The Common Mistake That Could Cost You A Lit Mag Acceptance Letter (And How To Avoid It)
Sharing your work with other writers is one of the best ways to gain honest, constructive critiques. But if you want to post your short works online in order to share them prior to submitting for publication, you may find yourself caught in the trap of “previously published” writing: Editors of reputable literary journals rarely accept any writing that has appeared anywhere online, whether on a website, blog, or social media profile.
Many writers fear this means they shouldn’t share their work online at all. But if you’re cautious and forthright, you can use the Internet to share your writing with a small group of other people—without endangering your odds of getting an acceptance letter from a lit mag.
How, you ask? We’ve got answers below!
Can you share your work via email?
Yes! Never underestimate the power of old-fashioned email. This simple method is one of the best for sharing your writing among a select handful of readers. You can send your work to individual recipients, or create a group message (in programs like Outlook, you can even save the group!). This method will let you share your work privately and control the number of people seeing it—so long as the recipients don’t forward your work to anyone else. As long as the number of readers is minimal and private, literary journal editors won’t consider the work to be previously published.
Can you post your work on social media?
This one’s tricky. Posting your writing on a social media profile—like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn—could invoke the wrath (or at least the discomfort) of editors. After all, when you post a poem or story on your profile, it becomes semi-public (and therefore, most editors will consider it “published” online). To avoid this conundrum, use your social media network’s private messaging system. Share your work with just a few friends and you’ll be in the clear to make submissions to literary journals when the day comes.
Can you post your writing on your author website?
Work posted on your personal author website will most likely be considered previously published. However, you can restrict public access by password-protecting the portion of your website that features your work. You can also start a brand-new, password-protected website particularly for sharing with a select few.
What about sharing my writing in an online writers workshop?
Joining a workshop or critique group seems like a win-win situation: You get the benefit of feedback from other writers, and editors get the benefit of better-crafted work. Joining a private, online writers group could be the perfect solution to your problem of how to share writing online. However, be careful: Some forum-style workshops have hundreds or even thousands of members, all of whom can read and comment on your work. Editors may balk at this, so stick to smaller and more privatized groups.
Can you create an interactive community online?
Absolutely! You can create personalized groups using sites like Yahoo and Facebook, or you can share your work using programs like Dropbox or Google Drive. You can control settings so that members must be invited to join the group you’ve created or view your work at all.
The bottom line: Make sure you have control over your work’s readership prior to submission to literary journals. If the work is made public, it will most likely be considered previously published by lit mag editors. If it remains private, you’re probably in the clear.
Writer’s Relief is an author’s submission service that has been helping creative writers make submissions since 1994. Their work is highly recommended in the writing community, and there are TONS of freebies, publishing leads, and writers resources on their website. Check it out!