The No B.S. blog about Travel, Writing and Life

5 Tips to Avoid Writing Rejection, part 3: Do Your Homework

While my previous entries are about avoiding rejection letters have been about writing style and craft (Why We Sucks and Use Your Words) this post is about how to do your homework in advance of your submission and paying attention to the details. The easiest way to avoid rejection is give the editor exactly what they are looking for by following their submission guidelines. Here is an example of a real note I send to writers to help get them started.

“Here are a few generic pointers I offer anyone who is interested in writing for ITKT. Triple check spelling and grammar (we don’t have a lot of time to edit, so the stories we publish are darn near finished.). We tend to focus on 1st person narrative that includes something on culture or positive tourism (sustainable, eco, what makes a destination unique) with word counts between 500-800 words. We also avoid “you” and “we” voices, I think the heart of a travel story is the personal experience — “I” is the way to go). I want to read about something you absolutely loved that inspires others to travel, be honest, tell me as if I were your best friend, not what you think I want to hear or what you think a travel article should say.”

Hopefully these directions are pretty straight forward.

Most Submission Guidelines are found on the “About Us” page or the “Contact” page, although the writer may need search around online to find exactly where these directions are located.

Here are some other “do your homework” topics:
* Read any publication to see if the articles they publish matches what you are about to submit or query.

* Personalize your query. When I see twenty-five other editor names in the email address bar and a form letter attached to follow, I just delete the email. Write specifically to each editor.

* Submissions with something other than “Dear Editor” written in the introduction note should have the editor’s name spelled correctly. I have received numerous letters sent to Derwin, Darwin, Darvon, David, and Sherman. I am not as much a stickler for this error, but I know several editors who are and consider it a sign of laziness.

* Know voice and style requirements beforehand by consistently reading the publication.

* Search the publication’s site to see if the story idea you plan to pitch/submit has been covered.

Since I have been in Japan, I received seven submissions. They are all pretty good. However, they also have one thing I common. Care to guess what? Can I get a drum roll please? Tbtbtbtbtbtbtbtbtbtbtbtbtbtbtbt… Not one of the writers bothered to read In The Know Travelers’ Submission Guidelines.

Good luck and happy travels.

The complete series
For Part 1, Why We Sucks
Part 2, Use Your Words
Part 3, Do Your Homework
Part 4, The Dreadful Epic
Part 5, The Easy Opening

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  1. Devin, this is right on! As editor/pub of TRAVEL THRU HISTORY, and also a travel writing instructor, I am amazed at the number of submission that arrive in my email where they writer has obviously not paid attention to the submission guidelines. Quite often they are much too long, unidentified (no by line attached), often badly written and sometimes not a topic I cover in my ezine. Pay attention, folks!

  2. Hi Ruth,
    Thanks for the confirmation. Of course, this gives a huge leg up on the competition when I receive articles offering what I am looking for show up in my in box.

  3. I just read the whole 5 parts in one go. The best 30 mins of my (writing) life so far 🙂
    I have been taught to always to personally address the editors (and employers when looking for jobs too, and customers/suppliers when I was a sales rep – works the same magic), interestingly enough, I’ve actually just recently had an editor addressing me with a different name! It was clearly a cut and paste. They did welcome my submission, but I am still reluctant about submitting to them. I guess the communication method works both ways.

    Thank you Devin!

  4. I appreciate the insight. It’s good to know what not to do!

  5. Really useful and insightful series Devin, for both neophytes and the more experienced writers out there. Great stuff!
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