New Author Starter Kit – Acceptance Prep

Last week, I listed six things you need before you send out those first submissions in New Author Starter Kit – Submission Prep. Today, I’ve put together a few things you’ll need when one of those submissions is accepted for publication. From (much) experience I know rejections are a lot more common, but, hey, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be prepared for an acceptance. Here are four things you might need for the blessed event.

1) PayPal account. When you sell a story, one of the best parts is getting paid for that story. Many publishers prefer to pay through PayPal and some won’t pay any other way but PayPal. Often times a publisher will ask for your PayPal address in the acceptance email. So get an account. It’s free and easy to set up.

2) Author bio. Often a publisher will ask you to include a short author bio in the cover letter for your submission. If they don’t, they’ll almost certainly ask you for one upon acceptance of a story. They’ll usually give a max word count somewhere between 50 and 100 words, though the shorter end of that spectrum seems to be more common. It’s a good idea to have a short author bio of around 50 words ready to go. Here’s one of mine as an example:

Aeryn Rudel is a writer from Seattle, Washington. His second novel, Aftershock, was recently published by Privateer Press, and his short fiction has appeared in The Arcanist, Havok, and Pseudopod, among others. He occasionally offers dubious advice on writing and rejection (mostly rejection) at www.rejectomancy.com or on Twitter @Aeryn_Rudel.

Of course, if you’re just starting out, you may not have publications to list, but there are lots of different things you can put in a bio. For more info about building a short author bio, check out Submission Protocol: Short Author Bio.

3) Author photo. Not every publisher asks for this, but it’s common enough I think you should have one on hand. That said, often times publishers will give you the option of not including an author photo if you don’t want to. IN my opinion, an author photo should conform to the following guidelines:

  • Format: A hi-res jpeg or TIF file. Personally, I think a head shot works best for the type of author photos that appear in magazines, but you could do a wider shot with you sitting at a desk, standing against a wall, and so on. Both color or black and white are acceptable. My preference is black and white, but that’s just me.
  • Expression: Depending on what genre of fiction you write this can vary, but my rule of thumb is to try to look like someone people might want to talk to. For me that’s usually a smile, but go with whatever makes you comfortable.
  • Professional: Basically, not a selfie. You don’t need to drop a bunch of cash on professional head shots if you’re just starting out, but I’ll bet you know someone who knows their way around a camera. Have that person take your photo against a neutral background or somewhere, you know, writerly.

4) Model contract. I mentioned this one in submission prep, but I’m gonna mention it again. When you get an acceptance, you should get a contract detailing what rights the publisher is acquiring to your work. Read the contract thoroughly and then compare it to something like the SFWA model contract, which is a fantastic indicator of industry standards. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your contract if something feels wrong. This is your work; make sure it’s protected.


Like the submission prep list, this doesn’t cover everything a publisher might ask for, but these are the most common in my experience. Did I leave anything off? Let me know in the comments.

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