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.


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.


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!


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.


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: 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.


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!


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!

5 Less-Known Spooky Short Stories

Halloween may be over, but the incoming cold, overcast weather is still perfect for bundling up by a fire and reading some spooky stories. Perhaps you’re tired of reading the same old Goosebumps book you’ve read since you were in elementary school. There’s too much going on at this point in the semester to have time in your schedule to read your favorite horror novels anyway. But you still want something scary to read under the safety of your covers at night, don’t you? 

Here are five of my personal favorite short stories that will be sure to scare you. Here’s the catch though—these weren’t written by the likes of Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft. These were written by folks just like you! That doesn’t mean they are of lesser quality, oh no my dear readers. There are plenty of these short stories out there that’ll make your skin crawl. Now, onto my top five!


Ben Drowned is one of the many haunted video game stories out there, but it outshines them all with how the author sets up their story. The narrator makes a stop at a local garage sale and goes home with the Nintendo 64 game The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. Once he plugs in the game he notices a file from the previous owner. All hell breaks loose from there as he documents every strange and terrifying moment that happens within the game and outside of it. What makes this haunted video game story unique is how the author created videos as “proof” of his experiences in the game. Majora’s Mask is already a dark and unsettling game, but Ben Drowned manages to up that by twenty percent and sprinkle some paranoia onto it by the end of its story. Fans of the game will never look at it the same way again. Be sure to have the lights on when you watch the videos.



Tired of going to the same old haunted house attractions with the same old boring scares? NoEnd House has something new and terrifying for you. The trick is you need to make it through all nine rooms. The treat? How does $500 sound? Totally worth it! But can you get to the final room? It’s been said that the house got its name because no one ever has. Just what lies in each room that manages to scare everyone away? You’ll have to find that out on your own. Put on your brave face and step through the first door in NoEnd House.



Something has gone horribly wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but your gut instinct warns you to not leave your room no matter what. You can’t trust your friends anymore. You mustn’t let them lure you out, no matter what they tell you. You set up a webcam to see what all is happening outside your door. Can you even trust your own eyes? This is the tale of Psychosis, told through journal entries by our narrator going through these terrifying events.


4. My Brother died when I was a child. He kept talking.

It’s just as the title says—the narrator shares a time in his life that was both heartbreaking and disturbing. Strange people examine his brother and encourage the narrator to talk to him, to ask him what he is seeing, where is he, if there is a heaven or hell. The more the narrator’s brother speaks of his journey, the more maddening it becomes. Definitely not the story for those who are looking forward to a happy afterlife. Definitely the story for those who want a reason to not rest peacefully for a while.



A rather long story with a slow burn, but trust me when I say to not skip this one. The atmosphere and slow build-up is worth the read. Told through blog entries, a couple of friends discover a small hole in a cave they’re exploring. They decide to chip away at it until the hole is big enough for them to get through and explore the uncharted side. With each day they revisit the cave to enlarge the hole, it becomes more evident that they are not alone. Something is lurking on the other side, and it is well aware of their presence. Pictures of the cave are included as a bonus. Just be sure to cuddle up with your closest pal, as this is one story you do not want to explore alone.