Submit Like a Man - Part 2 of Yesterday's Request Question

Rejection Letter:  Dear Mr. Warhol...

FLASHBACK to YESTERDAY:  I know you didn't ask this, but tomorrow (before I answer your second question), I'm going to write about what I see as the difference in men and women in resubmitting.  This is something I've noticed as an editor and with my women writer friends...

So it's tomorrow and yesterday I mentioned the above--how as an editor, I've noticed that in resubmitting to press, men and women do it differently.

Here is what I've noticed (and I would *love* to be proved wrong on this, btw) --

If an editor of our press rejects work from a male writer, but writes something like, "This came close.  We'd like to see more of your work in the future, please resubmit" - we will usually receive another submission from the male writer within a month (though sometimes two) after he receives his rejection.

When we send this same note to a woman writer, she will resubmit maybe in 3-6 months (if that) but more likely it will be later than 6 months and sometimes a year (or the next submission season later).  Sometimes she will not resubmit at all.

I do not know why this is, but as a woman writer who grew up in the age of not imposing on people or being a bother, here is my guess to why--

When we ask a man to resubmit, he thinks, "They like my work and they want more; I better get them more soon before they don't want it anymore."  And the submission is sent.  (Right now, there's that cliche' line about men "wanting to spread their seed" going through my head. )

When we ask a woman to resubmit she thinks, "When would be the best time to resubmit?  I don't want to seem pushy, but I do want to get them my work.  Maybe I should wait a few months so I don't seem desperate or so I don't irritate them by submitting so fast.  Do they really want to see more work, or were they just being nice?  I'm sure they want to see more work, but I should probably wait a couple months, I wouldn't want to be an imposition and it would be better manners and more respectful to wait a bit.  Or should I?  Yes, I'll play it cool and wait a few months. I wouldn't want to impose."

And then the woman writer waits and either forgets or send her submission out a few months to a year later.  (The generalization of women over-thinking things is going through my head right now.)

I hope this post is a big generalization, but so far as being an editor (and a woman writer) it's been my experience.

I have even done this myself.  Once to the point where I was so happy with the handwritten rejection from the New Yorker when Alice Quinn was there that said to "send more," I didn't resubmit for years because an almost from the New Yorker was good enough for me.  And in fact, by resubmitting, I might actually fail, get back a blank rejection as opposed to this feel-good-rejection-note I had just received.  Why trade mediocrity for possible rejection? I must have been thinking.

I have also received a note saying, "We'd like to see more of your work.  We liked what we say, please resubmit."  And my response was to wait until the next year to send again because I didn't want to send too soon.

I no longer do that.  If someone likes my work and wants to see more (and it's a journal I want to get published in), I send them more within a month of receiving their note.


So Ladies, Women Writers, Sisters of Poetry and Prose--

When an editor tells you they like your work and asks you to resubmit, do so and do so soon after.

The men have it right-- the editors do want to see your work and you want to submit before they forget about you and your work.  You want your name to be on the tip of their tongues and not hiding in the back of their mind.

This is where many of our "have good manners and think about other's feelings" good-girl childhoods do not serve us well.

I know when we say at Crab Creek Review that we want to see more of your work, we do.  We're not just saying it to be nice.  And we don't say it to everyone.  If we did, we'd be creating a lot of unneeded work for ourselves.

So let's say it together-- If an editor says they want to see more of your work, they want to see more of your work--they are not just saying it to be nice.  So send them more work and within the next two months of receiving the note.  No later.  I mean it.  You have permission to respond quickly and professionally.  And no one thinks anything bad of you.  Promise.

You are not being pushy or rude, you are taking care of your writing life.


And to the Gentlemen who are reading--

Men, Good Chaps, Brothers of Poetry & Prose ---

Keep doing what you're doing.  But less poems about killing frogs when you were a boy.  And less epic work, we like your shorter poems best.

~ ~ ~ 

P.S.  To anyone who got to this blog because they googled "submit like a man" - you are probably very disappointed right now...



  1. Wow, Kelli, how did you SO EXACTLY hear what goes on in my head?!?

  2. This is good to know. Generally, I do resubmit, but not right away. I always thought this meant "during our next reading period." Hmmm. And when we sent those letters at RHINO, that's what we usually meant, unless we specified otherwise--saying "before the end of this reading period." Yeesh, I let some opportunities pass by! Thank you.

  3. Nice post, Kelli. Thanks.

    I'm with Kathleen--I usually assume that they mean in the next reading period, but I now realize that if the journal reads year-round, I should get those poems into the mail in a month.

  4. I NEVER submit to an editor/magazine who reacts with such a simplistic/trite/standard
    message back to me.

    I submitted a book in 1972 to John Martin

    he wrote me: ""very interesting. We WANT to see your NEXT book."

    I went and continue to so do go elsewhere and tend towards those who "dig" what I do.

    rejection is never an issue. and,
    I am not responsible for any editor's/person's understanding or intelligence.

    your conclusion is a very hasty generalization and well non-sensical "political correctness"

    how I got to your site? I just don't know.

    editors tend to lean/nod towards their own biases and club...

  5. You've got me questioning my own masculinity, now...because my reaction when editors say they'd like to see more of my work, usually falls more on that "cautious over-thinking" side of the fence.

    So thanks for posting this. I will learn from it and take those comments more seriously, from now on.

    Oh, and another big thanks for starting my day off with a great laugh, by pointing out:

    "anyone who got to this blog because they googled "submit like a man" - you are probably very disappointed right now"


  6. Good advise but I think it really does vary from editor to editor. I have gotten to the point where when I send a note saying we like your work I advise we will look at more after 30 days but not before.

    I've had other editors tell me that they want to see more work but not until the next reading period at the earliest which usually does mean 6 months or a year later!

  7. LOL – the commotion I hear must be writers running to their therapists. Good post!

    And why am I not surprised you have an almost New Yorker note. Here’s my challenge… don’t let another year go by without resubmitting to them. I can see your work in them someday (but only if you send it).

  8. Loved this. Rushing off to re-check all rejection emails NOW.

  9. Damn. Guess I won't be sending my "Frog Story: an Epic of Boyhood in 36 Cantos" to you now. . . .

  10. OMG..this is so true...I find myself holding back in order to not be annoying..

  11. I agree with cause and effect — 100%. Lots of applicable research to support your point about gender differences in response to "not quite rejection." Negative self-talk takes over sometimes and keeps us stuck. Overthinking for sure. I'm going to borrow from you and put on my blog with details of research next week. Sounds like you'd be OK with that.
    Judy Tingley

  12. I love this, Kelli. Gives me the kick in the butt I need!

  13. Perfect~ And I often do take those good words to heart, and submit shortly thereafter. Must be in touch with my inner male. . .

    = )

  14. Who is Ed Baker? He looks like that Travelocity gnome. How nice that he decided to take time out from his world travels to comment on your blog. For the record, a lot of us out here in the blogsphere "dig" you. Thanks for this post. It's very informative and instructional for those of us finding our way in the poetry submission world. You are very generous to share your wealth of experience with us.

    BTW, my word verification is "pomat" which is short for "poetry matters", if you ask me.

  15. Thanks everyone!
    And I'm glad this post stirred the pot a little bit. I think it's good to talk about this.

    I'm going to do a follow-up post on this, but did want to acknowledge Jessie's comment that is does vary from editor to editor. That said, it's just been my experience that many women writers take just a bit too long to resubmit a journal as they don't want to impose.

    I personally struggle with this, which could be why I'm kind of passionate about it. I would err on the side of "too early" than "too late." Especially because you were asked to resubmit, it's not as if you're just pulling this out of the air.

    Thank you for all your comments. I really enjoyed reading this.

    more on this soon.

  16. P.S.

    RE: You've got me questioning my own masculinity, now...

    Shawnte - your comment made me smile.

  17. I wonder if women sometimes think "I'll re-submit when I've written new work" and men send other material already written. Do we see re-submission as about sending other writing or our next/new writing.... Nancy P.

  18. Wow, i am so glad i read this post! i am one of those women writers who doesn't submit again for a year (sometimes more than a year) later! i always thought i would be irritating the editor to resubmit again any sooner than that

  19. Nancy-- Good question. I think sometimes women must think that and sometimes they think "I don't want to intrude" or "I don't want to submit too soon."

    I'm sure there are so many reasons, but seeing how differently men resubmit when we ask them vs. women makes me worry that women are trying to be the "good girls" and that idea is failing them very much.

    Renee-- You are so not the only one who thinks like this and does this. Definitely don't wait a year! ;-)

  20. I just got one of these letters with an invitation to send work to a journal again and I'm wondering - does one mention something in the cover letter about the fact that the journal asked for new work in a future reading period, something along the lines of "as suggested, I am sending you some new work for your consideration" blah blah blah or is it best to keep the cover letter pro forma? (I'm guessing it varies by editor, but what's your sense of this?)

    Thanks for any feedback from any direction on this.

  21. Jennifer,

    If asked to send more work, I'd definitely acknowledge you were asked to in the cover letter. If you know the name of the editor who asked you, I'd suggest to use that too.

    It can be as easy as-- As suggested by Molly Jones, I'm sending new work for you consideration.

    But yes, if they ask for more work, send it and yes, remind them they asked! Good question!


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