Monday, January 31, 2011

My Love/Hate Relationship with Locks

My love/hate relationship with locks began in junior high school. Those combination types, minimal time to change for gym class, and nerves always added stress to my day.

Memories of those days surfaced when I accidentally locked myself out of the house. Mom came to my rescue that time.

Then, my front door deadbolt decided to throw a tantrum. If I didn't turn the key in just the right way, it refused to open. Well, the other day nothing worked. My neighbor checked it out, tried putting it on life support, but finally pronounced it dead. At 8:00 P.M., I'm running out to Home Depot for a new lock. Sigh.

Publishing sometimes reminds me of locks and keys. You spin that combination dial. "Now, was I supposed to go to the right passing zero twice?" Publisher A says simultaneous submissions are okay, but Publisher B threatens life in prison if you even consider such an offense.

I've been submitting to some new markets. Rather than spread myself out too thin, I picked a few and am concentrating on their instructions. This paid off with an acceptance at the end of 2010. I'm working on a couple of submissions to this periodical, hoping I'll once again find the right combination.

Whether it's book publishers, agents, or periodicals, do you study their guidelines before querying them? Do you concentrate on one at a time or send to multiple people?

32 comments:

LittleWomen21 said...

Checking guidelines is crucial! Loved the analogy with the combination lock though. Even when you check submission guidelines, its hard to tell if what you're right is too far one for publisher A, too far another direction for publisher B.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Praying about this very thing right now.

Your lock descriptions reminded me of the locker locks and spinning the dial a little too far. Tricky tricky...not much different than querying. ;)
~ Wendy

DenaNetherton said...

Hi, I love the analogy, too. I feel as if I've got a checklist and I'm gradually working my way through: submitted to A Publisher. . . check. Move on to B Publisher. . . check. Build writing resume with several small publications. . . check, etc. I'm still trying to build up the courage to send off the query for my latest completed work.
I really enjoyed this post!

sarah said...

I do check guidelines...I think to put the key in the right way...you gave to. I love the way you wrote this

Cindy R. Wilson said...

This post makes me smile! I hate locks, especially combination locks. I've had at least three dreams in the last several months that I couldn't get a lock open and something terrible (okay, maybe just that I'd be late) was going to happen).

But anyway, yes I try to check guidelines. And I check them again and again because I'd hate to miss out on an opportunity just from not following the rules. Thanks for this post!

Dolores Ayotte said...

Great analogy Susan and great advice about checking guidelines too!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Little Women 21 -

I totally agree with you. Publishers get so many submissions that they're looking for reasons to eliminate you. The closer you stay to their guidelines, the better your chances of catching their eye.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Wendy -

Ah yes, those lockers all appeared in our school days' nightmares.

I know the Lord will give you wisdom on how to proceed.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Dena -

Thanks!

It sounds like you've got a good plan. One of my goals for this year is to send out a submission every month.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Sarah -

Thanks!

It's amazing how we can take daily occurrences and use them in our writing. Hmm, I feel a post coming on. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Cindy -

My, oh, my! The lock phobia seems universal.

I once submitted to a well-known Christian magazine. While they didn't pick up my article, they editor remarked on the fact I'd followed their guidelines.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Dolores -

Thanks for your comment.

You'd think following guidelines was a no-brainer, but some people ignore them. Why not improve our chances of publication? A writer who follows the instructions will be viewed in a positive light.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Ryan and Melanie said...

Susan,

I like the lock analogy! I'm so new to this entire process. This year I want to more research about the markets. I feel like a little baby when it comes to publishing. But I'm loving this journey so far.

--Mel

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Mel -

Do you have Sally Stuart's Christian Writer's Guide? I've found it helpful in locating new markets. Friends have also made recommendations.

If I can be of any assistance, please let me know. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Becky Lange said...

Interesting thoughts! I haven't done much submitting, but in one of my writing classes we had an assignment that required us to look into guidelines for various publications and submit some of our work. I remember getting a little overwhelmed and slightly stressed about following the guidelines. I can be that way about other things as well - I realize the importance of following rules and guidelines, but I sometimes look ONLY at the details and miss the fun parts!

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

I'm fine with multiple submissions, but I make sure to make each one specific to whoever I query.

Karen Lange said...

You too? I used to stress over my combination, even in high school. I'd forget it over breaks...silly looking back but it was a big deal then!

I always study a publication before I submit. It can be hard enough to find the time to write, let alone submitting amiss.

Blessings,
Karen

Patti Lacy said...

WOW, this post rocks! I am seeing a devotional from this material...

Girl, you are a good writer!!!!

Though my agent unlocks places for me, I think you are wise to choose carefully, read the fine print, and PRAY, PRAY, PRAY!

Blessings, dear one.

After so much pub stuff, it feels good to be here at "home."

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Becky -

Guidelines tend to be wordy. Highlighting things like word count, spacing, and target audience help me to separate what I need from the other stuff.

Think of the technical manuals you've read. They cover every possible question. I pull out the directions, "hit button A."

Hope this makes sense. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kristen -

Thanks for weighing in on the subject.

You made a great point about tailoring each one to the individual publisher.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Karen -

I refuse to purchase a combination lock because of the difficulties I've had in the past. :)

After putting so much work into a submission, I don't want to be disqualified because of a formatting or word count problem.

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Patti -

Your comment made me smile. Since I write devotions, it tends to spill over into my blog posts.

I completely agree about the prayer. Many times, I've thought the bases were covered, and the Lord prompted me to read the guidelines again. If I hadn't, I would have sent the devotion or article out with something missing.

Nice to see you back on the circuit.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Nancy said...

When I sent my writings out, I had already sent for and read and followed all of the guidlines. I tried sending to a few at a time, but found this confusing. It was easier to concentrate on one at a time.

Rhonda Schrock said...

This is a great word picture, Susan. I'll bet you'd love locks if you had four boys. Just kidding! Just kidding!

Waving and smiling,

Rhonda

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Nancy -

I did the same thing. It also helps to see sample copies of the publication. It gives you an idea of their format and the type of articles they like.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Rhonda -

LOL! I have a love/hate relationship with locks. Coming from an urban area, they're an essential part of life.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Gayle said...

I'm just learning the trade.You have made the perfect analogy! Following guidelines seems to be the key to unlock the door.

I also believe that having God show us which door to knock on is essential.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Gayle -

Yes, I also pray about where to submit my work. The task always seems easier when I'm sensitive to His direction.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Jean Fischer said...

I love your analogies, Susan. When I was in junior high, I had trouble with combination locks too. I always follow publishers' guidelines. Like you, I find it helpful to highlight the key points to create a visual checklist.

Thanks for another great post.
Jean

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jean -

I should use this lock analogy in a devotional. Everyone relates to it.

Blessings,
Susan :)

kristen said...

This is great, Susan! What a great analogy. It really does feel that way sometimes. I submit pretty regularly to a few places, and then I try and check out a few new every month.
For shorter pieces, I concentrate on one publisher at a time, but have my list so when/if it comes back I'm ready to send it out again.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kristen -

You're very organized! I have an EXCEL sheet to keep track of submissions, but not a list of publications.

Blessings,
Susan :)