How Submittable Works

March 6, 2015 § 11 Comments

From top: Glimmer Train, Tin House, Ploughshares, Paris Review...

From top: Glimmer Train, Tin House, Ploughshares, One Story, Paris Review, Prairie Schooner, Kenyon Review…


So much better than stealing photocopies at our temp jobs or wondering if no response means “lost in the mail.”

If you’re not already using Submittable, the site is a service for authors to submit work to literary magazines, and for magazines a way to control and organize the tsunami of submissions without letting anyone slip through the cracks. In terms of paper saved, Submittable is probably responsible for half a rain forest, or at least the contents of several hefty recycling dumpsters.

Editor Kelly Davio has helpfully broken down how Submittable works, in a post worth checking out if you are new to using the service, or have been using it without really knowing what all those status changes mean. Submittable’s blessing and curse is:

greater involvement in the submission process. Using Submittable’s features, you can see the progress of your submission and even manage withdrawals and edits.

Not that we’re checking it every day or anything…

Davio also discusses that if an author sees a status go from “received” to “declined,” it may mean that the status changed quickly (the piece was read and a decision made immediately) or that one’s work has been rejected without a reading. This would, at the very least, be unethical; seriously so for any magazine that charges a fee to submit.

Here at Brevity, we’d like to confirm: We read every submission.

We read. Every. Submission.

Your work may be perfect for us, terrific but like something we already plan to publish, terrific but not for us, in need of some polishing, or a great try and part of your growth as a writer. But no matter where it falls on the spectrum, we will never–never–reject your work unread.


Allison K Williams is Brevity’s Social Media Editor and the author of Seven Drafts: Self-Edit Like a Pro from Blank Page to Book. Want writing news, events, and upcoming webinars? Join the A-List!

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§ 11 Responses to How Submittable Works

  • ascreamin says:

    As managing editor for Solstice: A Magazine of Diverse Voices (SolLit) since the fall, I’ve only recently begun working on the back end of Submittable and getting a behind the scenes look at all this. So interesting. SolLit reads every single piece too – which is why it sometimes takes so long. If a piece gets past the first few readers, then on to the next until the final editor’s decision. And with a mostly volunteer staff of readers (who also have busy lives), this can be a timely process. So while I used to think ‘hey I haven’t heard back on my piece so they must LOVE it and still be considering it”, I’m now realizing this is not always the case. The process can just be slow unfortunately – although everyone is trying their best. And mistakes can and do happen. Someone at Brevity accidentally sent me an email stating only that the status of my piece was changed from In Progress to Declined. No rejection note, form or otherwise. Dinty was quick to apologize. ; ) And I recently sent off a rejection to a woman who had submitted to Solstice who had already received a rejection on the same piece a while back and was not happy to be rejected twice for the same piece. For some reason it wasn’t noted in Submittable (before my time!). But still, as an editor and a writer who is also always waiting for submittable responses, you sometimes feel badly.

  • addeol46 says:

    Thank you for the info!

  • Kelly Davio says:

    Thanks, guys, for sharing! And I hope that bringing to light the fact that some journals don’t read every piece encourages editors at the offending places to do a better job, and to, as Brevity does, give every writer a thorough and fair reading.

  • Thanks for the reminder for those of us who do use it, and for those who will begin. Like me, I bet we all concur that Brevity is a trustworthy friend.

  • Very helpful and much appreciated. Thanks.

  • The Memetrix says:

    Reblogged this on The Memetrix.

  • Reblogged this on Darryl Foster and commented:
    Great post by Allison K Williams

  • RON BURKE says:

    is there anyone out there who can tell me how to use submittable? JUST TELLME: STEP 1—- THEN STEP 2.— THEN STEP3 ETC, ETC.

    • Allison K Williams says:

      Hi Ron – go to Click Sign up, and enter your information. That will give you a Submittable account.

      Then you can do two things:
      1) Submittable sends out a newsletter that has opportunities on it, so read the newsletter and see if there’s anywhere there you want to submit.
      2) When you go to literary magazine sites and click “Submit” some of them will redirect you to Submittable. Sign in to your account, and the instructions to submit to that magazine will show up. Note that this happens from the literary mag’s site, not starting at Submittable.

      Hope this helps!

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