Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Things to Do Before A Writer Hits Send

by Katy Kauffman @KatyKauffman28

There’s a little voice in our writer minds that likes to nag. Usually it acts as our friend, reminding us to double check our articles for typos. But sometimes this little voice becomes obsessive, causing us to worry that an editor will find something obviously wrong with our submissions even though we have no idea what the problem might be. 

Nag, nag, nag. How do we silence the little editor voice in our heads and have confidence that our articles and manuscripts are ready for submission?

It’s a good idea to have a checklist handy every time you submit something. The checklist will vary according to which publishing house, publication, or agent you are submitting to, so be sure to print those guidelines for each submission. Take a look at the list below and make sure you’ve covered the bases before you attempt to hit a home run. This double-check will help keep your little editor voice happy and silent. The first three questions are about the “technical” aspects of a submission, and the rest are focused on the content (for nonfiction). 

8 Questions to Ask Before You Submit Your Writing 

1. Does it have my “byline”?
Don’t roll your eyes, please. You would be surprised how many writers don’t put a name on their writing. You know that you wrote it, but when an editor (like me) downloads your file, along with everyone else’s, it costs time trying to figure out who wrote what if the byline is missing. Editors may not stop to investigate who wrote your submission, and put it in a slush pile.

2. Does it have the correct formatting according to the submission guidelines?
Don’t let zeal override good sense. Re-read every line of the submission guidelines before hitting “send.” See if your recipient requests a cover letter and specifies what should be in it. Double check that you have used the right font, size, and spacing. Make sure you have a header if requested. Everything we can do to follow someone’s guidelines shows that we are paying attention and we care. 

3. Is my word processor flagging any spelling or grammatical errors?
That red or blue squiggly line may save you from embarrassment if you find an error before you hit the send button. If I have cut and pasted a lot of sentences, I find it helpful to run the spell check one more time. 

4. Would the first three lines appeal to me if I were the editor or agent receiving the submission?
Because they are so busy, editors and agents may look at just the first few lines or paragraphs of your writing to make a decision about it. Don’t give them a reason to stop reading. Use vivid nouns and verbs to craft a story, or find an intriguing quote or alarming statistic to begin your submission. Make sure no “limp” words or sentences are sabotaging your chances of being published. 

5. Does my flow of thought stay on track?
A trick I’ve learned is to read the first line of every paragraph to analyze my own flow of thought. This helps me to evaluate whether each paragraph is an interesting progression of my point and needed in my writing. It also helps me to see whether the first lines of my paragraphs are captivating enough to hold the reader’s attention. 

6. Have I included enough “take away” and supporting evidence to back it up?
Look over your writing one more time and make sure that your take away (what the reader will apply to his or her life) is placed throughout your writing and not saved for just the end of the article or the end of each chapter. What can the reader learn and benefit from? Then see if you have used enough stories, statistics, quotes, and so forth to prove your point. Meaningful take away makes your writing sparkle and catches the eye of editors and agents.

7. Does my writing have a strong finish? 
Some writers end with a summary of what has been said. Others reinforce their point with a brief story or illustration. Make sure your writing engraves a memorable take away on the reader’s mind and heart, and moves an editor or agent to say, “Yes! That’s what I was looking for.”

8. Have I incorporated the feedback from my writing group and writing friends?
Someone else’s objective viewpoint has improved my writing more times than I can count. If my writing buddy has marked a printout of my writing, I double check every edit to make sure it has been included.

Do you have a system in place to check your submissions before you hit the send button? Share your tips in the comments below, and keep the conversation going!


Katy Kauffman is an award-winning author, an editor of REFRESH BIBLE STUDY MAGAZINE, and a co-founder of LIGHTHOUSE BIBLE STUDIES. She loves connecting with writers and working alongside them in compilations, such as Feed Your Soul with the Word of God, Collection 1 which is a 2020 Selah Awards finalist.

In addition to online magazines, Katy’s writing can be found at CBN.COM,, and three blogs on writing. She loves to spend time with family and friends, talk about art and crafts in her group MY ARTSY TRIBE, and tend the garden in the morning sun. She makes her home in a cozy suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. Connect with her at her blog, WINNING THE VICTORY, and on FACEBOOK and TWITTER.

Featured Image: Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash


  1. Great list, Katy! Reading the writer guidelines and doing what they ask is KEY. I get a lot of devotionals that make it obvious that the author did not read them at all. That costs me valuable time, as sometimes, if the message is good, I'll rewrite or add a paragraph. Then I have to ask the author for permission to post the new article. Time. Do your editors a favor and read the guidelines!! It's the first thing that will make you appear professional to your recipients.

    1. Thank you for mentioning this, Julie. I tend to read a publisher’s guidelines three times to make sure I got everything. 😀I hope all of your publishing adventures are going well!

  2. Excellent list, Katy! Thanks for the great tips!