Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Submitting via Post

I sent out a submission to moonShine review yesterday. It varied from my normal submissions in the way it got sent to the market; I sent it via U.S. Post.

This is very rare for me. Almost everything I sent right now is submitted electronically; it's faster, easier and requires much less effort to produce a ton more results. I can keep up with my submission tracking with my email up on the adjacent tab in my web browser, if I want. I can send out a dozen stories for free, in less than an hour, including the time it takes to compose a short email for each submission. In contrast, sending stories via post is slow and expensive. It requires ponderous visits to the post office to purchase stamps (and to make sure your envelope has enough postage... how many words were in that story again?). I also hear back much faster from electronic submissions; after all, if I can send an editor a story with a single click of my mouse button, she or he can send a rejection or acceptance back just as fast.

And yet there was a simple, charming hopefulness that filled me when I slid my pages into their freshly addressed envelope and handed the whole shebang over to the less than charming postal worker who helped me yesterday afternoon. The cover letter was handsome and I love the personal touch of signing my letters (one of the drawbacks to email submissions). Holding the heft of the printed story in my hands was exciting, and looking through the pages, it dawned on me that this copy would be in the editor's hands in a few days, these pages which I'd printed myself and then carefully packaged for their journey would be read by another person, someone who had the ability to embrace or deny my work. I liked being able to send a little of my good thoughts and hopes with the pages, from my hands to the editor's.

Sliding the pages into the envelope and addressing it, making sure it had the postage it needed and then ultimately handing it over to the stranger behind the counter was simultaneously exhilarating and daunting. What if it gets lost? How will I know when it gets there? What if someone bends/tears/burns/runs it over with a Nazi Tiger Tank? I imagine it's the feeling parents get when watching their kids drive away without them for the first time... fear, hope, anticipation, joy.

The tactile, personal touch really connected me with the piece again, and the submission process. It's so easy to press a mouse button and submit. With a posted envelope, it's as if your dreams go right into the envelope along with the story, and it makes it more special, somehow.

I also love the idea of submitting in the same way of my writing idols. The internet is so recent; it's easy to forget that. But as little as ten years ago, the majority of authors were doing exactly what I did yesterday afternoon with every submission they made. What perseverance! What raw courage!

What an inspiration!

1 comment:

ggray said...

There was something monumental about mailing off manuscripts through the post office - a ritual of sending our children out into the great publishing void. But it was expensive, time consuming and wasted lots of paper. While I'm glad I did submitted manuscripts that way, I'm also glad I don't have to anymore, although four or five times a year, I will send out subs by mail to magazines which really impress me. Keeps me humble, keeps me connected to the human aspect of submitting.