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Amy Lou Jenkins is the award-winning author of Every Natural Fact: Five Seasons of Open-Air Parenting

"If you combined the lyricism of Annie Dillard, the vision of Aldo Leopold, and the gentle but tough-minded optimism of Frank McCourt, you might come close to Amy Lou Jenkins.Tom Bissell author of The Father of All Things 

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Get Published with clean pertinent submissions

Your Chances of Getting Published are better than you think, because most writers don't follow the guidelines.

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 are, and that is great news for you. I've worked on three anthologies, and been in position to receive submissions from writers for about four years. From that experience I can give you some great news, the competition is not as harrowing as it appears. Well over 70% of article submissions are in no way publishable for the specific market submitted to. So now if you are checking out numbers of submissions received versus those published, that number should not look so daunting. You'll increase you chances over 70% just by following the publishers guidelines. Here are some tips that will put you on the write track.

Use professional fonts and ink color. Stick with 10 or 12 point, black ink, Arial, or Times New Roman.  Purple ink and comic sans front do not help you stand out as a creative person. They help you stand out as an amateur. Let the quality of your writing be the thing that stands out.

Put yourself in the editors shoes, if they have a space for poetry, or essays or whatever-- it's a physical place. They can not subvert the laws of physics and place a 2000 word story in a place reserved for 750. I've heard writers wine about their art and editors need to change their form to accommodate the writers. Michaelangeo had to fit his work perfectly onto the Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and did not ask the Papal authorities to change the dimensions of the room.

Write to the guidelines. You may see a guideline and think, I've already written something that may work. I'll send it out. Nope, your previous writing means you've got a start. Study the market and send a query or rewrite your article based on their guidelines, not your article. There may be a time when you accidentally hit it right on the mark, as in reprints.

Submit by e-mail when they ask, according to their directions. Pay attention. Many writers write one letter and send it to everybody they can think of. It's obviously a form letter, not individualized per market. It's not unusual for me to just block that persons e-mail, because they are wasting my time. I think I'm a tad nicer than most, because I only do this in the case of multiple offenses. I think it's fine to submit to multiple sources, simultaneously, but each submission needs to be tailored. If they say, no attachments—No Attachments. If they say submit in a Word attachment, with a 50-word bio—that's what you must do. In fact when you see a specific requirement that seems picky, yell "Yahoo." Many others will miss this and screen themselves out leaving more room for you.

We didn't even talk about the actual writing. If you don't follow these points, they probably won't even read your stuff. If you are John Updike Jane Smiley, you can likely get away from this conformity. Still, I bet their submissions look polished on simple professional letterhead, and they have followed the guidelines perfectly. They know not only how to write, but how to get published.