The One Mistake That Will Ruin Your Chances Of Publication

Writer’s Relief
4 min readNov 8, 2022

This happens so often: You’ve written, revised, and carefully proofread your latest short story, essay, poem, or book manuscript. Your critique partners have given their approval. Now you’re ready to start submitting your work to literary agents or journals! And then you realize: There are hundreds (if not thousands!) of possible markets to sift through, and the time-consuming research will take many tedious hours. But you’ve waited so long and are anxious to get your work into the hands of readers — ASAP! Careful: You’re dangerously close to making the one mistake that will ruin your chances of publication.

No matter how great your short story, essay, poem, or book — if you don’t do the research and pinpoint the right markets, your work probably won’t be published. If you don’t properly research each and every potential literary agent or journal, you’ll end up making submissions to markets that would never be interested in your work. And it’s important to not only determine which markets you should target — but also which markets you should NOT send submissions to.

How Ignoring Research Will Ruin Your Chances of Publication

The literary agent or literary journal is closed for reading. Most journals and many agents only accept submissions during specific (and often limited) time periods. If you submit your writing to an outlet that’s currently not reading, odds are it will be deleted without consideration. Without diligent research, you might also submit to a journal that’s closed permanently. In either case, you’ve squandered your submission: It’s not getting published.

The genre is wrong. Each literary journal has its own unique brand to uphold, and not every piece of writing is going to fit those standards. Similarly, literary agents tend to specialize in a handful of genres and age ranges. Submitting a genre that the agent or journal isn’t interested in is likely to get you an automatic rejection (or no response at all). Not only have you effectively tossed your submission into the virtual trash, but you’ve wasted the reader’s time.

The materials are incorrect. Literary journals have specific requirements for the number of poems or short prose pieces you can submit at a time, as…

Writer’s Relief

Author’s Submission Service Est. 1994. We help authors reach their publishing goals with targeted submissions to literary agents and editors.