How do scientists decide where to submit manuscripts? Many factors influence this decision, including prestige, acceptance probability, turnaround time, target audience, fit, and impact factor. Here, we present a framework for evaluating where to submit a manuscript based on the theory of Markov decision processes. We derive two models, one in which an author is trying to optimally maximize citations and another in which that goal is balanced by either minimizing the number of resubmissions or the total time in review. We parameterize the models with data on acceptance probability, submission-to-decision times, and impact factors for 61 ecology journals. We find that submission sequences beginning with Ecology Letters, Ecological Monographs, or PLOS ONE could be optimal depending on the importance given to time to acceptance or number of resubmissions. This analysis provides some guidance on where to submit a manuscript given the individual-specific values assigned to these disparate objectives.