Submitting to a Literary Magazine

Submitting to a Literary Magazine

Do you have some stories or poems you want to publish in literary magazines, but you don’t know how and where to start? Have no fear, for I am here to tell you how! Follow along as I take you on a step-by-step process, and then you’ll be able to submit your work in no time.

STEP ONE: FIND LITERARY MAGAZINES TO SUBMIT TO

Pretty simple step, right? But it’s important to know how to classify your work so that you submit them to the right kind of magazines! It would be silly to submit a fairy tale to a horror fiction magazine, wouldn’t it? It would also be wise to read the stories/poems they’ve published so you can get an idea of what they’re looking for. Don’t forget to subscribe to the magazines you’re interested in! That small step may come in handy later to mention in your
cover letter.

Did You Know? If you subscribe to CARVE magazine, you’ll get one free submission! That’ll save you one $3 submission fee.

STEP TWO: READ THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES, HOW AND WHERE TO SUBMIT, AND KNOW THE SUBMISSION DATES

This is a very important step, so pay close attention when you’re reading the submission guidelines. The worst way to make a bad first impression of yourself to the staff behind your literary magazine of choice—especially if they’re a top-tier magazine—is to make it very clear to them that you didn’t read their rules, submitted your work by mail when it should be submitted through the Submittable website, and/or missed the deadline. Rule breakers are usually automatically tossed aside, and of course you don’t want that to happen to you!

Did You Know? New Plains Review accepts blind submissions—that means your name and contact information must not be included in your submission. Make sure to quadruple check that your name does not show up anywhere in your file before you submit!

STEP THREE: PUT YOUR MAGAZINES-OF- INTEREST IN A TIER ORDER

Have a few magazines you really want to be published in? Make those the magazines you first submit to. Secondary interests should go in the middle-tier; submit to those when all of your top-tier magazines have declined your submissions. The rest go in the bottom-tier. Be sure to also keep in mind which magazines are more popular and have lots of competition; it may take several months for you to hear back from them. If you start submitting to magazines in your other tiers when you haven’t heard back from those in the top-tier, you run the risk of getting your work published in those magazines…and THEN receiving an acceptance letter from a top-tier magazine.

STEP FOUR: PREPARE A COVER LETTER

All submissions require that you include a cover letter. You need to make sure it’s short, to the point, and professional. Not cute or clever lines here and there, no synopsis of your submission, no long paragraphs of your life story—your submission will automatically be discarded just for having a bad cover letter.

Here’s a useful article written by New York Times’ bestselling author Michelle Richmond on how to write a good cover letter: https://medium.com/a-writers- life/how-to- write-a-cover- letter-for- a-literary- journal-submission-df0d3687907d. If you’re not sure if your cover letter is on point, you may ask someone who’s done this plenty of times before to look it over for you.

STEP FIVE: READ OVER THE WORK YOU INTEND TO SUBMIT SEVERAL TIMES BEFORE YOU SUBMIT

Track down those grammar mistakes. Edit any lines that seem wonky. Take out any mentions of your name if the submission is supposed to be a blind one. Have someone read through and make note of any errors or if parts need improvement. Edit, edit, edit! If there are far too many mistakes, your submission will likely be discarded. And of course you don’t want that to happen!

STEP SIX: SUBMIT

Once you feel that you have everything ready (your story/poem, cover letter), go ahead and submit. And then relax. Go on a walk, take a drive, get that snack you’ve been craving for. All of the required work is finished. Now the hard part is waiting. If your work gets declined, don’t despair! Every writer goes through many rejections—you’re not alone. Pick yourself up and start over again. That’s what being a writer is all about!

Did You Know? You can familiarize yourself with rejection letters by looking up your magazines-of- interest on Rejection Wiki. Some magazines have a standard rejection letter, while others will have special ones that indicate your work was highly considered and passed along to upper staff but was rejected in the end.

Best of luck to you all out there, my fellow writers!

Kelly McConnell
Kelly McConnell
Poetry Editor

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