What Makes Journals Reject Your Submissions?

Here’s a list of my hard nope’s

Lindsey Danis
The Joyful Writer

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Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

When you’re reading for lit mags, do you reject pieces when you don’t like the title?

I definitely don’t reject pieces when I don’t like the title!

I struggle to come up with titles myself. I notice the title when I’m opening the piece, but unless it stands out in an obvious kind of way (very long, overly formal or stilted, or crude/gross are a few examples of what I mean here), it passes out of my mind pretty quickly.

If I love a piece but not the title the writer has chosen, I will see if they’re open to changing it once I’ve accepted the piece. But title alone isn’t a deal breaker for me.

So what is a deal breaker?

The most obvious ones are pieces that are too long for the publication, that don’t fit the aesthetics of the publication or conform to submissions guidelines, that hew too closely to work that was published in the last issue, and that have the feel of being unfinished.

This last criteria is the hardest for writers to spot since they’re so close to the work. A writers’ group can help, as can time away. Don’t send something out the day you finish it. Give it a week or two to have some distance, then you can edit it with fresh eyes.

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Lindsey Danis
The Joyful Writer

Writer. Traveler. Queer. Passionate about self employment, LGBTQ finance and the writing life. Visit me at http://www.lindseydanis.com