My First Featured Post Experience: Scary Mommy

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Guest Post By Sarah Cottrell

In late 2014 I started a blog. It had no real direction or theme and no one knew it existed. For three months I posted stories about motherhood before I realized that mom blogging was actually a thing, and that there were LOTS of great writers out there sharing stories just like me. I joined some mom writing groups on Facebook, I applied to have my blog picked up by my local newspaper, and I started working toward my own niche writing style.

That is when I accidentally stumbled on Scary Mommy…and oh, my goodness, I had found my tribe. Jill Smokler and her band of funny and brutally honest mom writers were posting exactly the kind of irreverent humor and honesty that I was quietly publishing in my tiny corner of the Internet. One night after I spent hours exploring the Scary Mommy website I found the Write For Scary Mommy link. I drank a glass of wine, followed the link, and submitted my very first story to a website that wasn’t mine.

My First Accepted Submission: Scary Mommy - Guest Post from Sarah Cottrell on submitting to Scary Mommy, being rejected, and her tips for finally getting accepted

It was rejected.

I resubmitted. That was rejected too.

This happened about a dozen times, but not once did I give up. You see, the thing is, they responded to every submission I sent. That may not seem like much, but I knew they were reading my work and I also knew that they must have been interested in my burgeoning style because they started to give me feedback.

I wasn’t getting in and I was beginning to fear that I would soon exhaust these women with my steady flow of short essays. I spent a few weeks making a list on a scrap piece of paper of all the stories they published. I began to notice something of a pattern. There were topics that kept popping up that had these things in common:

1) Humor

2) List style

3) Broad or general interest

4) Feel good, make you laugh, relatable

I tried one more time. After a particularly difficult day with my then 4-year-old headstrong son, I sat down and wrote a story called, The Mother of Rage. I submitted the story to Jill and Samantha and within one day Jill wrote back and said that she loved it and was scheduling it to go live on Scary Mommy for later in the month.

There was a lot of screeching and jumping up and down in my kitchen right after I read that email!

The three weeks between that email and the date it went live moved as slow as pond water. Up until the big day my most popular story on my blog had 120 hits. Clearly I was a hotshot. The day The Mother of Rage went live it reached 69,000 Facebook shares.

Think about that for second. The town I grew up in had 30,000 residents. This story had more Facebook shares than that town has human beings. I was dumbfounded.

But while I was celebrating my new-found Internet fame I simultaneously discovered the tough part of being published on a highly trafficked website like Scary Mommy; namely the comment section.

For the most part the comments people left me were positive and welcoming of my work. But there were a handful of truly hurtful comments from total strangers who took aim at me personally by calling me a child abuser, a psycho, and a bitch to name a few.

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That night I had a hard time sleeping. I was so upset by the trolls who came out to play in the comments section, but I was also giddy that Jill Smokler chose my work to be featured on her marvelous site. Over time I continued to submit and I soon found a niche writing style that I reserve specifically for Scary Mommy stories. To date they have published me more than a dozen times and my work was included in the Scary Mommy holiday anthology, Scary Mommy’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays.

A few valuable lessons I learned from my first featured post experience with Scary Mommy are:

1) DO NOT give up if you get rejected. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and have the sense to at least consider what the editor says (even if you don’t agree).

Quote Don't Be Afriad To Ask For Feeback

2) DO NOT let the negative comments from trolls get under your skin. Try to remember that you are not writing for them!

3) Once you get an article published do everything you can to use that to develop a solid relationship with the editor and staff of that website. You never know what projects they are working on behind the scenes and if you are gracious enough and hard-working enough you may get asked to participate in some amazing projects!

4) Hold on to the feeling of giddiness when a piece goes live on a site you love. That feeling is better than gold. I return to that feeling in my head when I am stuck in a writing rut.

5) IF YOU WANT SOMETHING THEN GO GET IT. Don’t wait to be invited to participate in submissions or writing projects. Use your voice and ask for help, ask for an opportunity, ask for collaboration, ask, ask, ask!

Good luck with your writing goals! Be tenacious! Be brave! Get writing!

cottrell_headshot_housewifeplusSarah lives in Maine with her boat-builder husband and two loud boys. In 2012 she earned her MFA and since then she has been featured on several popular parenting sites including BlogHer, In The Powder Room, Mamalode Magazine website, and is a regular contributor to Scary Mommy. Her work will appear in two new parenting anthologies in 2015. You can follow the fun on Housewife PlusTwitter, Pinterest, and Facebook

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22 Comments on “My First Featured Post Experience: Scary Mommy”

  1. Wow – that’s an intersting story and great advice. I’ve been thinking about submitting to Scary Mommy for months…but avoiding rejection. Maybe you’re right and it’s time to climb out of my box. Thanks Sarah!

  2. Thank you so much for this! I have been rejected from Scary Mommy as well as other sites. I haven’t tried again on SM but I do think that I have a piece that would work well. I think this is just what I needed to read to try again! Congrats on your big success!

    1. Molly, that is great! Submit your work and never be discouraged if it gets rejected because chances are it has more to do with behind the scene stuff than your talent. Just keep trying!! 😉

  3. This was enormously inspiring! I am a big fan of your work. I wonder how many writers out there (like me) are frightened to submit to Scary Mommy just because of their name alone?! Thank you.

    1. I know what you mean, I had to down a glass of wine to get up the nerve to submit the first time! But you know what? Scary Mommy is run by two incredibly kind women who want to support good writing and give moms a place to speak. You should do it! 😉

  4. I really needed to read this! I’m on rejection number 6 by Scary Mommy (or is it 7?) and was headed toward the “give up” zone. Thank you for the encouragement and tips!

    1. Oh, my gosh, I know that feeling!! Don’t give up! Sometimes it helps to join humor writing groups on FB. That was huge help for me! 😉

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  7. I, too, am a Scary Mommy success story. I had my first submission accepted, and every other one since then has been rejected, hehe. BUT I just a HUGE win when I had two submissions to HuffPost parents published. I couldn’t have been more thrilled. What are the mom writing groups you are in on Facebook? Like you, I’ve morphed into a “mom blogger” who is candid about motherhood – all 8 months I’ve been in it. Would love to meet more of my tribe! 🙂

    1. For Facebook groups, try: Publishing Mom Bloggers Writers and Poets comes to mind, and of course my group Beyond Your Bloggers :o)

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  9. Thanks for posting this article! I myself have recently started blogging…and discovered Scary Mommy. I took the plunge and have submitted on two occasions (the second being a couple of days ago). Both rejections. Ugh! However, I’m trying to look at it as a learning experience. Thought I’d go out and see if anyone had any advice or experiences to share. My exact thought was that I need to find my “Scary Mommy” voice for the next one. Third times the charm, right?!

  10. Sarah, thank you so much for putting this out there. As I write this, I’m eagerly awaiting my first Scary Mommy post to go live, and I honestly owe that partially to this helpful post. I needed some encouragement to keep trying after several weeks and multiple rejections, and your article really helped me keep pursuing that elusive first publication! And they DO respond to every submission, sometimes within 2 days–it’s a great site to send material to. God bless and thanks again.

  11. Bookmarked this post because of those five valuable lessons at the end. I especially love #4! My second Scary Mommy piece just went live a few hours ago, and “giddiness” is the perfect word for that addictive high — it’s a feeling worth chasing, which is sometimes difficult to remember when it feels like you’re not getting anywhere.

    Susan, your podcasts are so helpful, and Sarah, I always enjoy your Scary Mommy articles! Thanks for a great guest post.

  12. Great article! I have been trying to build my writing profile by submitting small articles here and there. I don’t consider myself a mommy blogger, but I am a mom with a sense of humor. I tend to write more fiction, but I’m trying to branch out. Thank you so much for sharing your experience.The giddy feeling of getting published is amazing. It’s the fuel that keeps us writers going.

  13. Very inspiring story. I just recently submitted my first article to Scary Mommy. I am not expecting that will get approve, but hopefully I can also share to you my success stories soon…

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