4 Tips for a Winning Submission from a Rectangle Contributor

Thinking about submitting to one of Sigma Tau Delta’s scholarly journals? A year ago, I was working on my poetry submission for the Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle and—Spoiler Alert!—I am happy to say that today I am a contributor to the 97th edition, as well as a reader at the Sigma Tau Delta 2022 International Convention in Atlanta, GA. I felt honored to even be at the same table as such talented writers that day. Should you choose to apply, this could be you in a year! This was my first time submitting to Sigma Tau Delta’s journals, but having gone through similar processes for many other journals, anthologies, and having been on the poetry committee for my own university’s creative writing journal, I have learned a few things that make the process a bit easier.

Here are my tips for putting together a winning submission:

1. Pick your top pieces—things you’ve been working on and editing for a while.

A poem or story written the night before the deadline might not necessarily make for the strongest application. I like to spend a few days combing through my portfolio, especially pieces that I have workshopped in class. I have a writer’s group with whom I meet regularly to workshop creative pieces, and almost every poem I have ever published has been critiqued (sometimes even multiple times) by this group. Compile all of these onto a Word document to get a good look at the pool you’re working with, putting the strongest ones at the top. (This might not necessarily be the move if you are submitting longer pieces, but that is up to your own preferences.)

2. Narrow down the selection and get feedback.

Utilize your network—students, professors, other writers, even friends and family are all people you can enlist to quickly identify which pieces stand out from the rest. If there is one particular piece that nearly everyone is drawn to, you can highlight that one as a finalist for your submission. I took my pieces to my writer’s group (again) and took note of which ones were most consistent in receiving positive feedback. If you are not already a part of a writer’s group, I highly recommend joining one or even starting your own; it makes this part of the process a thousand times easier! I also sent my document of potential pieces to my Chapter Advisor—who not only teaches poetry, but has also overseen many submissions and is very familiar with the type of work the journals prefer—to hear his thoughts.

3. Make necessary edits, but don’t completely rewrite anything.

If it becomes apparent that one of the pieces needs significant rework, go ahead and remove it from the list of options. Small changes that aid in clarity of meaning are okay, but nothing that will alter the substance of the piece itself. Lean toward pieces you feel very confident about. If there is one you feel has strong potential but does not quite get the point across to readers, the best option might be to save it for later. It is much better to submit something for which you have already explored all possible options than to take a chance with something that still has room for growth. Don’t sweat it; there will always be time to improve a piece for your next submission, even if it isn’t with Sigma Tau Delta.

4. Finally, follow your gut—even if it means ignoring advice.

I love and appreciate my professors to no end for bestowing upon me their priceless wisdom, but even they can sometimes make editing suggestions that are not in the best interest of a particular piece. My first publication ever was the first half of a poem I wrote for a creative writing class and submitted for an anthology—the exact part that my professor suggested I cut down, but I chose not to do so. In fact, the very poem that was chosen for publication in the Rectangle was another piece that a different professor had advised me to rework, but I followed my gut instinct to submit it the way it was anyway. I had to weigh his expertise against the feedback I had received from other professors, students, and writers. But, it was a poem that I had drafted and redrafted multiple times, gotten consistent positive feedback on, and had reached a point where I felt like it would lose its essence if I changed even a single word in it. At the end of the day, remember that you are the artist and you get to choose what you put out there for the world to see.

I hope that these tips have been helpful and happy submitting!

Claim your copy of the 2022 Sigma Tau Delta Journals to read Angelea Hayes’ poem “The Anchor or The Balloon.”

Angelea Hayes
2022 Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle Contributor
Eta Psi Chapter
Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA


Sigma Tau Delta Journal Submissions

The Sigma Tau Delta journals publish annually the best writing and criticism of undergraduate and graduate active chapter members of the Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society.

All undergraduate and graduate students who are currently enrolled through the end of the spring 2022 semester and are members of active Sigma Tau Delta chapters are invited to submit their work to Sigma Tau Delta Review and Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle. Chapter Advisors, faculty members, alumni (including members of the Alumni Epsilon Chapter), and honorary members, are not eligible to submit. Works selected for publication are also eligible for overall awards and monetary prizes.

Submissions for the 2023 journals will be accepted through May 9, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. CDT. Acceptances and announcements of awards will be posted by August 31.

Sigma Tau Delta Review is our annual journal of critical writing, publishing critical essays on literature, essays on rhetoric and composition, and essays devoted to pedagogical matters.

Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle is our annual journal of creative writing, poetry, prose, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

Claim your copy of the 2022 Sigma Tau Delta Journals to read samples of the quality of work habitually accepted for publication.


My Experience Being Published in the Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle
Submitting to the Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle: You Can Now Call Me an Author
Sigma Tau Delta Journals
Submission Guidelines
Submission Tips & FAQ
Claim Your Copy of the 2022 E-Journal

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