*We recently held an event where several experts explained how to submit your work. Here is one of the handouts from the event:
Submit Your Work to a Literary Magazine!
Tips from Kate McIntyre, managing editor of The Worcester Review, katemcintyrewriting.com.
• Be sure your piece is absolutely ready to submit. Once it’s published, it’s published forever. Check that your piece is 100% free of typos, and get a trusted reader to review it. Once I believe a piece is finished, I don’t send it out immediately. Instead, I set it aside for two weeks then read it through again. If I still can’t see anything to edit, I’ll send it out.
• Identify potential journals. Be sure that they are publishing good stuff! Five to ten years ago, there was a debate in the literary world about the relative “value” of print vs. online publication. Many writers only wanted to publish in print venues, feeling that online publication was somehow less legitimate or real. This attitude has relaxed, I’m glad to say. One boon of online publication is that it’s likely that your work will be read and seen by more people.
Resources for learning about literary journals:
Duotrope. www.duotrope.com ***charges $5/month for the service—you could join for one month, do a whole bunch of research, and quit***
An online, searchable database of literary journals. You can put in details about your work (word count, genre, etc.), and it will provide a list of journals that fit your criteria. You can make a list of favorite journals and limit your search to those. Also features a submissions tracker so you can see how long your submission has been at the journal and how long an average submission is at a journal before it receives a response. Has links to journal websites, which can help you decide if the journal is a good match for your work. Journal websites also post submission instructions, sometimes clearly marked as such, sometimes buried under headings such as “About Us.”
New Pages. www.newpages.com
Free website. Offers reviews of journals, calls for submissions, and other writing resources.
Perpetual Folly. https://cliffordgarstang.com/2019-literary-magazine-rankings/
A personal blog that offers a ranked list of journals based on how frequently the journal has pieces appear or receive honorable mention in the Pushcart Prize anthology.
Erika Dreifus’s list. https://www.erikadreifus.com/resources/where-to-publish/
This page contains links to a variety of publishing resources. Dreifus also offers a free newsletter called The Practicing Writer, which collects fee-free submission opportunities monthly: https://www.erikadreifus.com/newsletter/current/
Other literary journals. If you find a journal you like, flip back to the list of contributors to see where else they’ve published their work. These journals might have similar sensibilities to the journal you like.
• Prepare a cover letter. Keep it very, very simple. Here’s a model:
Dear Fiction [or your genre] Editors:
Please consider my story, “xxx,” for The Southern Review. My work appears or is forthcoming in xxx, xxx, xxx, and elsewhere [if this would be your first publication, you can say that instead, or give a very brief biographical detail here instead—no need to get cute].
Thank you for considering my work.
• Be sure to follow the journal’s submission instructions exactly—they might want the submission formatted in a certain way, i.e., word count at the top, footer with your name and the page number at the bottom of each page. Generally speaking, you want your submission to include a header on the left top corner of the first page with your name, address, email address, and phone number. You should use an easily readable, 12pt. serif font, such as Times New Roman or Garamond. Prose submissions should be double-spaced. For poetry submissions, you can single-space, but you should start a new page for each new poem. Number your pages. For online submissions, the least problematic file types are .doc, .docx, or .pdf. Some journals only take print submissions, some only take online submissions, and some take a mix.
• It is now common practice for journals to charge a small fee for online submissions. This fee usually ranges from $1 to $3 and goes to pay the submission manager (Submittable, usually) and to support the journal.
• Most journals take three months to a year to get back to you. They are able to accept only a very small portion (in some cases tenths of a percent) of the submissions they receive.
• If you receive a rejection, look carefully. Is it a form rejection, sent to all submitters, or a personal rejection, in which whoever read your piece offered you more specific feedback or invited you to submit again? That’s great news if you get a personal one. From now on, be sure to submit your new work to this journal. You might have found a good match for your style. Make sure to mention in future cover letters how you appreciated the editors’ kind words about your previous submission. A website, www.rejectionwiki.com, can help you to determine if your rejection is form or personal.