“To increase your odds of getting published, remember that a good writer—like a good criminal—needs to be prepared. You must know the market, the genre, an the ins and outs of what makes a mystery short story work.” -- Brendan DuBois in “Clue in to the mystery-story markets.” [The Writer, February 2010]You all know about my Six Questions For... blog. Right? Of course, you do. Anyway, it surprises me (it probably shouldn't) how many editors complain that writers don't read the guidelines. How stupid. Getting published is difficult enough without showing an editor how much of an amateur you are. This complaint isn't limited to magazines, either. Book publishers and agents have the same problem. The moderator of the Muse Online Writers Conference arranges book pitch sessions for the attendees. She requests basic information about the books and which publishers the author wants to pitch to. Invariably, authors ask to pitch romance books to publishers of children's fiction and vice versa. Come on folks. Stop being so lazy.
Another thing an author needs to do is read previously published material before they submit their work. Go to a book store or library and find books by a publisher of interest. Read stories in print or online magazines. I receive submissions that aren't appropriate for Apollo's Lyre. Reading a few stories should show the author we don't publish erotic stories, or stories that demean women--even if the author attempts to do so in a humorous way.
Writers need to do some homework before submitting their short stories, books, etc. If they don't, they look like amateurs; and their chances of getting published are slim.