1. Get organized. Give yourself a large layout space and organize all the show descriptions you've been contemplating by deadline date, notification date, show dates. Place available artwork on its own sticky note. Make sure no one disturbs this. It could impact the dinner table for, like, days. Oh, except you never eat there anymore anyway because it's always covered with your crap and the island in the kitchen is way closer to the bottomless carton of whole milk in the refrigerator.
2. Allow plenty of time. Days, really. Computer glitches happen. Kids need snacks and bike rides and summertime trips to the library and then there was that last time you hung up the phone and said, "Unless you're bleeding, do NOT bother me when I'm on the phone!" Right, you need to apologize for that when they wake up. That was a lame thing to say.
3. Pay attention to notification dates so you can leapfrog rejected work immediately to another show. If you're upset about being rejected, this is because you aren't submitting enough (insert laughter here).
4. Start that digital file with all those artist statement variations (20-word count, 100-word count, 1000-character count ... ) and indicate which show you've sent which statement to. Adopt a confident stance. I suggest a Wonder Woman pose for one full minute before copyediting your statement, just one last time.
A cool hipster pose is okay, too. It gives everyone the impression that exhibiting is no big deal. Meanwhile, remember that emerging artists need to apply widely. Except there's the other advice that you shouldn't enter just any old show lest it doesn't further your career, so, actually you should be really picky.
Or some lousy dichotomy like that.
Also remember that "callouses only develop in response to irritation and consistent use," so the prickliness of rejection will eventually go away.
Bite it a little. There, did it go away?
Darn. Maybe later.
5. Read the fine print. I nearly submitted to a show once that couldn't accommodate shipped artwork. What? I live in Alaska. Here, let me just walk it to your loading bay. Wait, just let me walk it through Canada first. I also submitted an enormous piece to a show last winter, failing to notice their clearly stated size restrictions. Right. That piece didn't get in. Duh, Meissner. On the flip side, I had to phone a gallery yesterday, because upon re-reading said fine print, I discovered there were no show dates listed, just the opening reception. Duh, Show.
Did I mention that callouses only develop in response to irritation?
6. Respect the jurors by offering beautiful, professional photos sized appropriately (as per fine print, which will specify different dimensions for each exhibition submittal ... naturally). Also, don't refer to your work as "mixed media" when specifics are so much more revealing and exciting . Also, poof read, I mean, proof read. You have to stand out from 100's or 1000's of submissions, so don't screw up your chances in the first round of jurying because of a silly mistake. No pressure.
7. Photocopy your entry form and staple to the hard copy of the prospectus. In 2 months, when acceptance/rejection letters are finally sent it's likely that you will have forgotten not only what you submitted, but what you said about it, who you are, and where you live.
8. Save all your rejection letters to prove to the IRS that you aren't just sitting on your rear.
9. Do your best to just really get right in there, focus and do the hard work. Like somebody said, "Under commit and over perform."
Somebody also said that thing about "A job worth doing."
Somebody also pointed out that only disgusting people let cats sit on their table. Except that we don't eat at our table. Because I never cook anymore.
If any of this advice is appealing, or makes you feel far superior, you might want to check out the alarmingly popular post "How to box & ship a quilt (like a Swede)" or a myriad of other posts in the "How to" category of this blog. I mean, why bumble along when someone else (me) has clearly done that part for you?