Chantelle Bentley has this advice for fiction writers and poets:
Determining what editors mean by "We want quality work" can be difficult, even frustrating. That task becomes easier if you keep in mind the following points when submitting poetry or fiction to a publication or press that lists "quality" as its only criterion for the type of work they publish.
- Quality is subjective and defined differently from editor to editor — what one editor may snub, another may hail as great writing.
- Reading the work of numerous authors publishing in your area of interest will provide a good basis for comparing and evaluating the quality of your own work.
- Quality poetry and fiction have impact, something that grabs the reader's attention — a startling image, a compelling theme, a delightful metaphor — and causes him or her to emotionally or intellectually respond to the work.
- Show you care about your work by paying attention to details. Quality poetry and fiction are neatly presented with correct spelling and grammar — unless style requires otherwise.
- Compare your work to the style and quality of the poetry or fiction published by the magazine to which you're submitting — not some hazy, academic definition of quality.
- Quality poetry and fiction require maximum effort. Do your best, and accept that as good enough.
Remember, all editors publish work that connects with their taste and temperaments. The best you can do as a poet or fiction writer seeking publication is write, to the utmost of your ability, whatever suits your fancy or soothes your soul. Then search for a magazine or press with work that resembles your own.
For more advice as well as hundreds of markets for your poetry, check out Poet's Market, available at your bookstore, via the Writer's Digest Book Club, or through our online bookstore.