Let’s get the most obvious advice out of the way: Read the submission guidelines! This is mentioned on every editors panel I have participated in, and with good reason. Read the guidelines thoroughly—hell, read ’em twice, all the way through. While you’re at it, also read the publications you’re submitting to. Is it possible to read everything published by each magazine you’d love to be included in? Probably not. Can you read the three most recent pieces, or find three pieces relevant to your own submission, for each magazine you’re reaching out to? I certainly think it’s worth your time.
But the advice that has meant the most to me, personally, as a writer and as an editor, is to protect one’s time. To practice (groan, I know) self-care. You don’t need to be on Twitter every day to be a brilliant success. Step away from your inbox, too. As Melissa Febos writes in an essay that I wish I could make required reading: “Do you want to be a reliable source of literary art (or whatever writing you do), or of prompt e-mails?” Febos recommends scheduling dates on the calendar with ourselves to write; I would add that, especially during the pandemic, participating in online generative workshops has been useful for me. And if or when you hit a wall and need a break from writing, take that break. Be kind to yourself, always.
The writers and editors I admire most are people who genuinely love books and language. They are, almost without exception, voracious readers. And so my final words of advice are: Read widely and broadly, across genres and outside of your usual comfort zones, and never stop doing so.
—Marisa Siegel, editor in chief and owner, the Rumpus
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