What is the Etiquette?

This morning I read an article from The Missouri Review’s blog called “Three Ways to Improve the Editor-Writer Relationship.” The advice was helpful particularly the first piece: email writers and editors when their work moves you.  I think letting people know that “hey this was great” is a wonderful way to build community and encourage writers (this may even be a News Years resolution for me). I’m not going to follow all the advice though—in particular number three, I just don’t see myself starting a magazine anytime soon. But the lack of relationships between editors and writers is something that I’ve been very much aware of recently.

Long ago, I learned that just because your work was rejected by a magazine that doesn’t mean you should stop submitting to them. Some of my favorite magazines have rejected me many times, and I hope they understand that the reason I keep submitting is because I love them.

However, I’ve recently realized that I don’t submit to magazine that have accepted my work. When I made this realization, I thought “That’s silly. Those places have already shown that they liked my work, I should submit again.” But I didn’t.

When writing the cover letters to these magazines, I suddenly became self-conscious of my formal tone—was I being insulting by not being more casual since they already accepted my work, or would I be acting entitled by assuming the previous publication put us on informal terms. Some may think this is silly, but I find conversation through technology particularly stressful. I hate making phone calls because I can’t see the other person’s a body language, and every email I write I imagine how the person receiving it reads it and must think I was being sarcastic. All this is with people I know.  Now throw in the fact that when I’m contacting an editor, I’m basically communicating with a stranger, who I want to publish me and who knows that I want them to publish me, and I become frozen.  It all comes down to the fear that they will dislike me, because I failed at some internet etiquette.  Obviously, I’m over thinking this situation.  I should just submit.

As you all obviously know, technology is changing how people connect and friendships run, and I can’t help but feel it is for the better.  But Lord, I’m bad at this internet thing.  I get so worried that I’ll stick my foot in my mouth, I often remain silent.

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5 thoughts on “What is the Etiquette?

  1. I hear you! Submitting things is always hard because you’re putting your work, your creations, your art on the table and saying, “Do you like it?” Maybe that’s not the right question, maybe it’s “Will this work for your magazine?” but it still feels like it will be either accepted or rejected and that’s hard no matter how you spin it. And writing to editors… it’s always hard. Keep submitting and good luck! Thanks for the post! -Liza

  2. I’ve experienced that similar issue with figuring out the proper tone of a submission letter. I tend to go more formal until I’ve had at least 2 exchanges with the journal’s editors and then try to adopt whatever tone they take with me. (Though I never resort to “Hey, Ann” as some of them do; it’s just “not me.”)

    Your hesitancy to resubmit to a journal that has accepted your work reminds me of — is it Woody Allen? — who said “I wouldn’t want to belong to a club that would accept me as a member.”

    Yeah, let go of that….

  3. By all means choose you weapons carefully but don’t shoot yourself in the foot. I recommend spraying your fire in a wide arc to hit as many bulls-eyes as possible and don’t worry about multiple hits to one target. This strategy will greatly improve your chances of survival.

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