Quit Wasting Paper; Submit to Submittable

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If you’re a writer and submit to literary magazines, chances are you’ve heard of Submittable. Submittable, formerly known as Submishmash, is a cloud-based submission management system that takes the pain out of the process. Created in 2010 by “novelist Michael FitzGerald, filmmaker Bruce Tribbensee, and musician John Brownell,” Submittable saves publishers both time and money.

For Writers, Publishers, and Businesses

I’ve used Submittable both as a writer and to manage submissions for my magazine, Scintilla. From a writer’s perspective, it beats printing out a manuscript, including a self-addressed stamped envelope, and swinging by the post office. The submission process can be a barrier. And, there’s something about that old process which makes it even harder for a new writer. It’s more of an act, a long series of moments where your doubts may consume you. Besides, no one likes dealing with printers and buying ink cartridges. Submittable also allows writers to see the status of their submissions to any publication that uses the service.

Publishers can quickly brand their instance of Submittable and set up separate workflows for types of submissions. Poems can be funneled to the poetry editor, fiction to the fiction editor and so on. Images and video can also be submitted. Even better, there’s a WordPress plugin so you can tie submittable directly into your WordPress site. You can check out an example at Scintilla Press.


One recent upgrade is a resume manager for businesses.

Let’s Talk Money

The great thing about Submittable is that the price scales with no longterm contracts. For independent publishers the service is free. The free package permits two users access and limits the number of free submissions to 100 per month. Last I checked there wasn’t a limit on paid submissions. While there is controversy regarding reading fees, a publisher can help defray costs with a fee of $2 to $3. For larger operations, the monthly pricing ranges from $10 to $100.

Wonderful, But I Judge a Service on Who’s Using It, Not How Great It Is

I get it. Early adoption is scary. But, if Prairie Schooner, The Believer, Harvard University, and The American Scholar use Submittable, rest assured it’s a stand-up service.

Relevancy for Educators and Librarians

The cost to start an open-access journal is low. While Submittable was initially created with literary magazines in mind, the service has grown up. The type of publication doesn’t matter. Every journal or magazine needs to deal with receiving, managing, and responding to submissions. By using an architecutre like WordPress, one may create an open-access publication like the Code4Lib Journal or Scintilla and easily manage the submission process. It’s far cheaper and more customizable than Bepress’s Digital Commons. Moreover, if your institution is hosting a contest, whether it be in writing, film or research proposals, Submittable can be used for that as well.

If you want to learn more about how to use Submittable, turn your attention to Submittable’s blog for a few video tutorials.

Your Thoughts

Do you use Submittable? If so, what have been your experiences? Besides what’s outlined here are there any creative ways you’ve used the service?

3 thoughts on “Quit Wasting Paper; Submit to Submittable”

  1. While I’m all for paperless submission, and I see the upside for publishers taking in dozens or hundreds of articles and stories a month, where does this leave the submitter? The free plan you mention doesn’t appear to be in force anymore. If it is, then it is buried, as only $10, $29, and $100 per month plans are displayed on the main sign up page. There is also no clear way to sign up as a submitter. A handful of publishers I’ve looked at in the last month or two of having re-entered the short fiction game use this service. How do I, an otherwise barely employed/under employed ‘newbie’ justify shelling out over a hundred dollars a year for the pleasure of trying my luck with these pubs? I must take into account that I’m in a position where I’m unlikely to make back my investment over the small field of pubs requiring this service and the rates they pay, against my chances of publishing with them.
    Please clue me in if there’s a page I’ve missed which will allow me to sign up for free, especially as a submitter only. I’ve checked FAQs and every page I could find.

  2. Yes! Thank you for this information. I did a number of web searches as well as looking at the FAQs and this is not made clear. The fact that there’s no way to sign up as a submitter before making the leap into gods know what by honing and formatting a story toward a particular publication and /hoping/ that nothing unreasonable is asked in the last moments of uploading/submitting is I think a failure of organization. I am glad my assumptions stemming from this were incorrect. I will no longer simply dismiss these markets as too much of a risk out of hand and will leave a comment on my blog where I talk about this situation to clear things up for my readers as well.

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