How We Choose Submissions

One of the most frequently asked questions I get about the magazine is, "how can I write for you"?  (So much so that I even wrote an eBook about it to help you.)  Getting published is often a goal for many people as they want to see their words in print.  I get it.  It's thrilling to see your ideas, thoughts and images put out there for the world to see.  I still get giddy every time the new issue of the magazine lands on my doorstep.  While there are many steps to take before submitting your ideas for consideration (the eBook details those), today I wanted to talk about what we do on the H&L team to choose what goes into each issue.

Our opening for the winter issue of Holl & Lane will be coming at the beginning of May, so let's use that one as an example.

After choosing our theme (winter's is The Heart), Mia (our Editorial Manager) and I will begin to think if there are topics that we really want to see covered within the issue or people that we're really interested in writing for us and we'll put those into a Trello list to go back to when we're ready to contact contributors.

At the beginning of May, we'll announce across social media that we are now accepting submissions for our winter issue (which will be available in October).  In general we leave submissions open for one to two weeks to allow people to submit their ideas to us (crafting the perfect pitch is also detailed in the eBook).  Though we have a general theme in mind, I don't like to give any more specifics than that as I like to see how different people interpret the theme themselves.

Once we close submissions, both Mia and I will spend time reading through everything that was submitted, as well as any previous submissions we've had that have not yet been used.  I ask Mia to make a list of the ten articles that really stood out to her, while I do the same.  Though I can only speak for myself, I look for:

  • articles that have a topic we haven't yet covered or that take a different angle than we have covered. 
  • a pitch that is concise and well written
  • an idea that has real emotion behind it 
  • an idea that fits in well with our theme

I then also take a look at the list of articles to see how they flow together.  Sometimes there might be a topic that has come up repeatedly and so I will choose just one of the submissions to move forward with.  We try to make sure there is a large variety of articles within each issue so it doesn't read as one note.

After we've both come up with our list, we compare notes.  The majority of the time, we've chosen most of the same articles.  From there I will narrow our list down to 10-15 total articles based on how they flow together.  I also love giving people who haven't written for us a shot because I know how great it can feel to be published.

Once the list is narrowed down, I will go back through and, based on topic, assign a word and image count to each story.  Then, Mia will reach out to each contributor individually to let her/him know that we'd love to feature their idea and provide them with their word/image counts as well as deadlines and submission instructions.  Then we get to sit back and wait for them to roll in.  Reading the finished product is always the best part.

For more insider tricks on how to get published in a magazine, check out our eBook (now on sale!)  And if you're interested in writing for us, keep an eye on our social media pages as we'll be announcing how to submit your ideas soon!