5 Points to Consider before Submitting an Article
Some young people so want their articles to be published on platforms great and small that they rush to submit such articles without taking care to put some things in place which will improve their chances of acceptance.
In running a writing group on Facebook and assessing submissions to The Record newspaper’s online platform, I’ve noticed some mistakes young people make in this regard which I want to extrapolate to the submissions they make to bigger and paying platforms.
Below are five such things they will do well to bear in mind.
5 Points to Consider before Submitting an Article
1. Is your piece in the niche of the platform?
Different publications or platforms have different goals and visions. Some are for literary writing (some of these are general, while others focus on specific genres of literary writing like poetry or fiction). Some publications are for parenting or motherhood advice, some for Christian devotionals ….
Go through editions or the website of the publication and understand what they offer to see if you write along those lines. Don’t just scour the Internet and dump your pieces indiscriminately in hopes that one of the receivers will bite. You may be setting yourself up for an avalanche of rejections.
2. Has your writing conformed to the style of the platform?
Publications work with style
guides which their contributors are expected to follow. Editors are too busy to go through every piece they receive to harmonise them with their style guides. Look at previous articles from the website, check for their style guide and apply the rules. For example, do they use block or indented paragraphs? What word processor, font families and font sizes do they require? (Some may have a default setup to which your work is converted upon uploading, some receive the work from you in specific formats for upload.)
How do they use italics and boldface lettering? What about the writing of names, use of punctuation marks and abbreviations? What range of word count or page numbers do they demand?
3. Is your piece offering something worthwhile?
We have discussed this under, “What’s the Purpose of the Article You’re Writing?” Some people write pieces that are hard to classify and use. Do you write just for the sake of writing or is your writing offering something of value to the reader? A little research (not hard at all in this digital age) will help you locate material you can use to enrich your writing.
And why drop a piece without specifying if it’s fiction or nonfiction? Also, if the meaning of your piece is not easily discernible, offer some clues in an intro or postscript to guide the reader in interpreting it. Deliberately mystifying your content just to provoke curiosity or argument without adding value to the reader is not the path to respectability.
Be sure that the reader gets something, don’t just tease and engage in self-promotion. It’s irritating to present a vacant piece and ask people to wait for Part 2. Each part of a series should be enriching and contribute to the overall satisfaction of the reader with the series.
4. Is your language error-free?
Spelling errors and grammatical mistakes are a turn-off. Sometimes, it’s not that the language of the writer is so bad but a lack of thoroughness is at play. Keep improving your language to learn new words and proper grammar, but also go over your work repeatedly for errors.
Word processors autocorrect spellings they’re unfamiliar with, thereby introducing errors into your work. Copying from one device to another with incompatible word processing soft ware can join words in a manner that riddles your work with errors.
But proofreading over and over can help you correct these avoidable errors while you polish your language to outgrow the limitations it imposes on your writing.
5. Are you willing to follow through with corrections?
The publications you submit your writing to may suggest changes to make before they accept your work. Some of them may seem so minor but so time-consuming that you may be tempted to give up and look for less stringent platforms. But it is the so-called little things that you want to sidestep, like the proper use of the comma and other punctuation marks, that separate good writers from the bad.
So, except you have a fundamental difference of opinion with the publishers on your content or message, be prepared to tackle everything they point out, however little. That is how you learn. That is also how you develop the discipline to do a fine job even when you are not supervised.
Writing is a rewarding but painstaking activity. If you do it well, you will get the rewards sooner or later. A little diligence and preparation can help you go far and not be stuck in mediocrity.
Pay close attention to what is changed when your work is edited and do better next time. You will become some editors’ delight when they see your progress and heartily work with you to push you further on your road to success.