You’ve worked hard on making your project as great as possible…and now you want to get it published. Whether it’s a short comic for an anthology, like the ones we publish at Oneshi Press, or a short story, a novel, a screenplay…really anything, you want to give your creative project the best possible chance of being accepted by the editor reading submissions.
In the case of Oneshi Press, that’d be me, Lynsey G. I’m the editor and curator of our Comics Anthologies series. We get a lot of submissions for each anthology, which means I spend a lot of time reading submissions from creators like you. And, over the years, I’ve learned what makes me want to work with a creator…or not.
So, from an editor and anthology curator to you, here are 5 tips on getting your work noticed by an editor.
#1: Know who you’re pitching to.
Look, I’ve been on the other side of this equation plenty of times. I’ve submitted a lot of projects to a lot of editors in my time. And I know that, as a creator, it’s smart to cast a submit to multiple publications! BUT. Each and every pitch must be done carefully, so that you’re giving yourself the best possible chance of working with that publication.
That means you need to know each publication:
- What are they looking for?
- How does your project meet their needs?
- How does it exceed those needs?
- What kinds of themes does this publisher look for?
- What is their deadline?
The point is: Know who you’re talking to, know why you’re a good fit, and make it clear that you know these things in your submission.
#2: Follow. The. Directions.
This is especially important for comics and other specs-heavy fields—with a lot of specs come a lot of opportunities to do something wrong. And the editor is going to notice when you haven’t taken the time to read and follow their directions.
A lot of publishers have their own submissions platforms that make it almost impossible for you to not follow directions. At Oneshi Press, for instance, we have a submission form that makes it difficult for you to submit a project without following the rules. It’s pretty rad!
But not every publisher has a submission form like this. Up until recently, Oneshi Press just asked people to email us their submissions. And some people decided to do that without doing their research. Nothing—absolutely nothing—says “I didn’t read the directions” like not meeting the standards I listed in my call for submissions.
Here are a few suggestions to help you follow the directions:
Click all the links!
If you’re submitting because of a call for submissions, read that call carefully and click on all the links contained therein. For instance: At Oneshi, we put out calls for submissions for each of our anthologies. Those calls talk about the theme and go into detail about how to submit. But we can’t always fit every detail on that post, so we also have a “Submission Guidelines” page that lives on our website, which contains more of those details. We link to that page from our calls for submissions, and we also display the link prominently on our home page. But you’d be amazed how many people read just the one and ignore the link to the other, then send us things that we just can’t use. Folks, the info is all there in the links.
Most folks are going to submit their work to more than one place at a time. Turnaround times can be brutal, and who wants to sit there waiting to hear from one publisher at a time? But not every publisher allows this, so check the submissions directions carefully for language about “simultaneous submissions” and be clear with the person you’re pitching to about your intentions if someone else picks up your work before they do.
If you’re submitting more than one project to the same publication, here a few tips:
- Be sure they’re cool with that.
- It may gunk up the works to be looking at multiple submissions from the same person. If you don’t see it mentioned in their call for submissions, contact them to ask directly. If they’re cool with it, follow the directions about whether to send each submission separately or together.
- Don’t send a ton of submissions.
- Editors need to read through every submission, and you’re not doing yourself any favors by monopolizing their time and energy.
#3: Got questions? Get answers!
If you’re not sure about something in the submission process, it’s probably better to find out the answer than to just guess. So if you have a…
- General question? Google it.
- If you’re not sure about something you read in a call for submissions, but it seems like something that other people might be wondering about too, Google it. The answer may be floating out there on the internet, and you may be able to find it.
- Specific question? Ask.
- Not every editor has time to answer a lot of questions from prospective creators. But if you have questions about the submissions process, it probably won’t hurt to send a brief message asking for clarification.
#4: Pitch it.
No matter what kind of work you’re submitting, no matter what kind of publication you’re submitting to—you are going to be one of many. You’ve got competition. That means you need to set your submission apart from everybody else’s with a pitch.
Pitch the project.
Tell the editor who’s reading your submission—in a few short, well-written sentences—what makes this project great. Why it fits this particular publication. And what sets it apart from everything else out there. The pitch makes your project stand out from its competition, and makes it more likely that the editor will open your attachment, read your script, and take your work seriously.
What makes you the right person for this editor to work with? Why are you the best person to tell this story? Why are you the person to work on this project? This doesn’t have to be a list of your professional successes—it can be anything that sets you apart from the crowd and helps the editor get to know you.
- Use links.
- You don’t need to send a full resume or portfolio file to us, but we do want to know more about your work. So if you’ve got an online portfolio, or a few examples of your work from elsewhere online, or a social media account where you aggregate your professional stuff—send it. Same goes for your creative team.
- Appropriate links.
- Portfolios, personal websites, or anywhere that creative work is on display are better than casually used Twitter accounts.
This all comes down to: know yourself and your work. Know where it fits in, know why it’s great, and know why it’s perfect for this publisher.
#5: Be professional.
This is kind of a big one, and it’s also really slippery because the word professional can mean a lot of different things, and sometimes gets used to exclude some groups of people. I don’t want to play into any of that nonsense, but I do need to address this topic. So here’s what professional means to me, and what I think it can mean for other editors, too.
It’s on you, as the person pitching this project, to make it clear to me, the editor, that working with you is going to be a pleasant process. That I’ll be able to communicate clearly and easily with you from beginning to end. That you’re responsive and responsible. That you understand my situation as an editor, and will work with me in the best interest of the thing we’re publishing.
- Be responsive.
- Whatever platform you’re using to communicate with an editor—be responsive on that platform. If you’re emailing, be sure to give them an email address you check frequently. Nothing will get you crossed off a list faster than being difficult to communicate with.
- A little formality can go a long way.
- Sometimes a casual tone can set your work apart from others, but let’s be real: The editor doesn’t know you or your work until you tell them about it. In any—and every—case, it’s better to assume a stance of cordiality and professionalism.
Check your pitch before you hit send.
Look for errors like misspellings, copy-and-paste problems, typos. Everyone makes typos sometimes, but if your first correspondence with a potential publisher is littered with them, you’re costing yourself points.
- This includes the project itself.
- Check your project before you send. Don’t send a half-finished script, or a story without a title. Don’t send a project that is just clearly not ready for publication. Because that’s literally the point of submitting it—for it to be published. If there’s a reason you’re sending an unfinished product, explain it in your message.
Bonus tip: Be a team player.
Most publishers out there are not big companies with huge operating budgets and plenty of time on their hands. So, if you want to get noticed and develop a strong relationship with these folks, the best thing you can do is show that you’re psyched about it.
That might look like showing an interest in the company’s other work or sharing, retweeting, liking, and commenting on the company’s social media.
Basically, show that you’re excited about the publication in question! Be clear that you’ll do everything in your power to help promote it. A little excitement can go a long way because, honestly, most small publishers need a high level of enthusiasm from the people they work with.
That’s it, folks! Thanks for reading and/or watching. Let me know what you think of my tips in the comments! Do you have any other ideas about how to get your work noticed by an editor?
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