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Avoiding Stupid

Every writer I know has hit the send button only to realize that they just sent the query to the right editor with the wrong magazine name or they missed an essential part of the submission requirements. Cyberspace does not deal kindly with such mistakes. There is no getting back what is already flying around the world.

“The reason writers often seem too stupid to follow simple directions is because our excess of enthusiasm does render us temporarily stupid. Wait for the stupid to pass.” This great advice comes from Johanna Harness where she talks about writing queries.

Enthusiasm is great but too much enthusiasm can cause you to do something that common sense would normally prevent. A successful freelance writer has to find a way to balance that common sense with the enthusiasm of a positive response from an editor or agent.

Steps to Avoid the Stupids

    1. Review the acceptance letter to see if there are any time constraints. Check the website to see what time limits are put on responses. Review your own query to see if you submitted your query with a predetermined time line. Set a schedule based on any time limits that you have or give yourself a week or two to follow through with the submission.

    2. Create your submission.

    3. Wait.

    4. Have someone review your submission (and the submission requirements) before you even begin formulating the email. That way you do not run the risk of accidently hitting send before the time is right.

    5. Read your submission several times through – at least once out loud. Reading out loud will point out more mistakes or troubles with the flow than anything else that you can do.

    6. Do not cut and past from old submissions. Create a whole new one just for that editor or agent. You are far less likely to make a name mistake doing it from scratch.

    7. Read the submission once more before sending it. Check specifically for name spellings.

    8. Do not read the submission after you have hit send. What is done is done and there is no use crying over spilt milk.

Be enthusiastic about the opportunities that come your way but temper the excitement with the common sense to send the right thing so that the excitement can continue on through the next level.

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