Do’s and Don’ts of Submitting to Embers

CC image by soikkoratamo

We’re currently open for submissions until October 10th. To those of you that have already sent in your work, thank you! Also, you’re awesome.

Maybe you’re out there, hesitating to submit. Maybe you think your work might not be quite right for us, or maybe the idea of making sure you’re following our guidelines is stressful. I want to encourage you to submit by giving you a few simple dos and don’ts to make the process less intimidating. If you follow these, I feel confident you’ll have a pleasant experience.

DO…
1. Follow our guidelines.
We try to make it as painless as possible, I promise. We accept all submissions through Submittable, which makes things exceedingly easy. Just read our guidelines and follow the prompts, really. We have guidelines so that we’re all on the same page and know exactly what’s expected, not to complicate your life. Plus, if you ever have a question, chances are the answer is in our FAQ. If not, please ask!

2. Submit each piece SEPARATELY.
We consider each piece individually, so it makes our lives (and yours) easier when you submit them separately. You can send in up to five pieces in each of our three categories (fiction and nonfiction, poetry, and art). Just know that we read blind and look at every submission on its own.

3. Edit, edit, edit. Proofread, proofread, proofread.
Send in work that’s polished and as perfect as it can be. We can forgive a couple of typos—nobody’s perfect. But if it seems like the language is controlling you rather than you controlling it, we’ll have to say no. A lot of the time, even if a piece has a lot of potential and heart, if it’s riddled with typos and grammatical snafus, we just can’t accept it because editing it would be a massive undertaking.

DON’T…
1. Send in work with clichéd Christian themes.
I’ll be frank, folks—we’re not fans of “and then I got saved stories” or punny poetry where “Jesus is the sun.” We’re pretty staunchly anti-bonnet. These mainstream Christian stories certainly have an audience (obviously, since publishers only print what sells). However, we aren’t part of it.
We want brutal honesty, we want down-to-earth, we want Jesus hanging with lepers and whores. We want the scary holiness of God, human brokenness, and unabashed joy that makes us ugly cry. We want real. For more info, check out our submissions page.

CC image by soikkoratamo

CC image by soikkoratamo

2. Let pride win.
We’re pleased to send detailed feedback for ALL submissions. That means that if you get a “no,” we tell you why and what we did like about your work. It’s up to you, but hopefully you’ll take the opportunity to revise or at least look at your work with fresh eyes.
If you get a “yes,” you get the same thing—feedback that says what we loved and where we’ll focus our editing. We then edit your piece and work with you to arrive at a finished product we’re all happy with.
Whether you get a yes or a no, it’s to your benefit to check your pride at the door. Serious writers and artists want to grow, and we want to help them. None of us are perfect, but together, we can get a bit closer.

3. Be less than authentic.
Write, photograph, draw, create like you. In other words, don’t change your unique tone to sound more literary, or feel like you can’t use heavy fantasy elements because you don’t think we’ll take your submission seriously. Don’t go out and take ocean photos and send them in because we’ve published some in the past and you think it will increase your chances of publication. Authenticity in your work is essential, and work created without it almost always rings hollow and feels stock. Have conviction in your work.

I hope these tips assuage any hesitation you have about submitting. We want sending your work into the world to be an exciting, satisfying process, not the stressful mess it tends to be. Writing and art finds life in being read and seen. Therefore, let it live. And just maybe its home will be with us.

By Madeleine Mozley