Use these resources to get your work out into the community
The Writing Center's Creative Writing Publication Guide will give you all the information you need to get your manuscript ready for publication (and the FGCU Writing Awards). Find FGCU creative writing classes and writing clubs on campus and in the Southwest Florida area. Learn about some of the great creative writing craft books available in the FGCU library.
Creative Writing Publishing Guide
First StepsToggle More Info
You have written a short story, poem, or nonfiction essay. You’ve gotten feedback from your peers, professors, and consultants at the FGCU Writing Center. You revised your work, revised it again, and find yourself adding and removing the same commas, switching the word “big” to “large” and back to “big” again, and so on. In other words, your work is as good as you can get it. Now it’s time to see if someone else likes it enough to publish it.
The biggest thing to keep in mind is that editors read a lot of submissions. To help with this, they often look for reasons to reject pieces as opposed to reasons to accept them. A spelling error or simply not following directions can really hurt your chances. So, it’s important to read the journal’s submission guidelines as carefully as you do your own work. Don’t do anything that goes against the journal’s guidelines, and don’t ask for information that you can discover on your own.
The next thing to remember is about rejection. Expect it. Journals receive many, many more submissions then they can publish. Don’t take rejection personally because it isn’t personal; pieces are often rejected for reasons beyond the writer’s control. For example, the style might not be “right” for the journal, or maybe they published something similar recently and want to give their readers something different. Most importantly, don’t get discouraged; after all, you are in good company when you are rejected. Imagine an invisible number on the back of your manuscript. That’s how many times the manuscript must be rejected before it’s published. One rejection means one step closer to publication, so don’t give up.
Before and During SubmissionToggle More Info
To decide if a journal is right for your piece, read its website, paying particular attention to the submission guidelines for writers, which are your road map to acceptance. Make note of the following:
- Submission Length: The submission length is how many words or pages the journal will consider in a submissions. Don’t submit a work if it doesn’t meet the guidelines. You’ll be wasting your time.
- Submission Fees: Increasingly, journals are asking for submission fees to read your work. This is
something to plan for. Consider setting aside a certain amount of money each month
for these fees.
- Genre: If a journal publishes horror fiction stories only, they aren’t going to publish
your memoir. Save yourself time and rejection; do your research.
- Reading Periods: Reading periods are the times journals read submissions. Since most submissions
are electronic, you will not be able to submit your work outside of a journal’s reading
period because the online system won’t let you. But if you send a manuscript through
the mail, make sure it is during the journal’s reading period. If it’s not, you’re
wasting time and money.
- Snail Mail: If you send a manuscript through the mail, include a self-addressed and stamped
envelope (SASE) for the editors to use to inform you of their decision. If you don’t
include a SASE, the editors won’t inform you of their decision. Then, you’ll never
- Simultaneous Submissions: If a journal’s submission guidelines say that they accept simultaneous submissions,
this means you can submit a work to the journal when it’s being considered by another
journal. In other words, you can submit a single work to multiple journals, but the
journals must specify that they accept simultaneous submissions. You must also specify
that your submission is a simultaneous submission, usually in your cover letter (see
- Acceptance of a Simultaneous Submission: If your work is accepted by a journal and it is a simultaneous submission, you must
immediately withdraw your work from the other journals considering it. Often, you
can do this online. If you can’t, email or call the journal to let them know your
piece has been accepted elsewhere. Editors and readers work really hard, usually for
free, and if they spend the time reading and debating your work only to discover it
was accepted elsewhere, they may be upset, which will decrease your chances of getting
published in the future.
- Proper Manuscript Format: Submission guidelines will often have specific rules for the format of a manuscript.
Follow these guidelines exactly. As mentioned, editors are looking for reasons to
reject your work. Improper manuscript format is something that can lead to an easy
If the submission guidelines don’t specify a format, follow these guidelines for short stories and nonfiction essays and these guidelines for poems.
- Cover Letters: Often, journals will ask for a cover letter. Sometimes they will ask for a formal document—in business letter format—but they usually ask for something more informally typed into a text body. This means that you probably don’t have to worry about putting addresses at the top of the page, but the letter should still be professional. Don’t make grammatical mistakes and keep it simple. Editors read a lot of cover letters. Something you think is funny or interesting is likely pretty familiar (and may be annoying). Also, no one likes to be told how to interpret a piece of writing, so don’t interpret your work for the editor. A cover letter should include the title of the piece, the word count, a very brief (2-3 sentences) biography, and a “thank you.” When possible, address the letter to the proper editor—poetry editor for poetry, nonfiction editor for nonfiction, etc. — by name, which can usually be found on the journal’s website.
Here are examples of cover letters that should help you craft your own.
After SubmissionToggle More InfoIt takes editors a long time to read all the submissions they receive. Expect to wait—six months is very typical. After six months, you can consider sending a polite follow up to request an update on your submission, but before doing this, double check your inbox. Check your spam/junk mail just in case their decision was sent there by accident. After doing this, reread everything you can on the journal’s website. Often, they will give you their average response time. If your submissions doesn’t comfortably exceed this response time, don’t write a follow up. If it does comfortably exceed the average response time, you then may follow up. But, again, be careful. Don’t give them a reason to reject you.
Here are some other considerations:
- Records: Keep a record of what stories/poems you sent where and when. If you don’t, you will
forget, which can lead to a lot of problems and hassles, like resubmitting a work
to a journal twice, submitting multiple works to the same journal, or forgetting to
withdraw submissions that have been accepted elsewhere.
- Personal Rejection: Most rejections are form rejections. They will thank you for your submission but
decline publishing it. They may offer a few words of encouragement, but the feedback
will be generic and general.
But, sometimes editors take the time to personally reject your work. A personal rejection will include specific references to your work. If an editor takes the time to personally reject you, that's good news. This means that they did indeed like your work. If they offer you any suggestions for revision, revise and send the work again. Or, consider sending the journal another one of your pieces. But be careful. You don’t want to annoy editors by bombarding them with your work or emails.
- Pace: Send one story or essay or a few poems at a time to a single journal. If a journal rejects you, wait a few months before sending them something new. If you send too much too often, the editors may think that you are not taking the time to send your best work and you aren’t taking their time seriously. It will not help you get published.
- Records: Keep a record of what stories/poems you sent where and when. If you don’t, you will forget, which can lead to a lot of problems and hassles, like resubmitting a work to a journal twice, submitting multiple works to the same journal, or forgetting to withdraw submissions that have been accepted elsewhere.
Join the Creative Writing Community
CoursesToggle More Info
Search for course descriptions and prerequisites.
- CRW 2001: Introduction to Creative Writing
- CRW 2732: Introduction to Nature Writing
- CRW 3111: Narrative Techniques
- CRW 3311: Poetic Techniques
- CRW 3053: Writing Theory and Practice
- CRW 4120: Advanced Fiction Writing
- CRW 4320: Advanced Poetry Writing
- CRW 4930: Special Topics
- CRW 6930: Special Topics in CW
ClubsToggle More Info
BooksToggle More Info
ConferencesToggle More Info
- Streamlines: An Undergraduate Conference Celebrating Language, Literature, and Writing: This conference gives undergraduates the opportunity to present their scholarly products, in English or Spanish, in Language and Literature fields. They also allow undergraduates to present their creative works.
- National Undergraduate Literature Conference: Weber University's annual conference accepts creative prose and poetry pieces. As an added bonus, you'll have an opportunity to learn from some of today's most exciting writers.
- International Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities: A peer-reviewed, open access journal dedicated to the publication of research articles, fiction, poetry, photography, videos, and other creative works in all academic disciplines.
JournalsToggle More Info
The journals below are dedicated to publishing emerging writers who may not yet have a publication or may just be starting out in their publishing career. Many of these journals are still highly competitive, but they are good places to start your journey to getting your creative works published.
Poets & Writers Tools for WritersToggle More Info
Want to find your own publication, conference, and award opportunities? Follow the link below and find homes for your writing.