How To Submit Short Stories And Poems To Literary Journals

You’ve written, rewritten, proofed, and polished your short story or poetry. Now comes the part that leaves many writers quaking in their boots — getting your work published. It’s time to submit your writing to literary journals!

Initially, literary magazines favored the print format; so did writers. But these days, savvy writers appreciate the advantages of publication in online literary journals. And since the Internet has made it possible to produce great periodicals without enormous financial outlays, many respected literary journals — from magazines created by individual editors to big, well-known publications staffed by important contemporary writers at large universities — are choosing to publish online. Here’s what you need to know about submitting your work to these literary journals.

Where To Find The Right Literary Journals For Your Writing

There are more literary magazines online and in print than there have ever been before. Here’s the good news: Because there are so many great publications now, you may be more likely to find a home for your creative writing. But there’s a little bit of bad news too: Identifying the right literary magazine for your submission can be extremely time-consuming. Finding the one editor who is going to love your short story or poem means weeding through the thousands who won’t.

If you are taking a DIY method, consider subscribing to a reputable database of literary markets and publishing opportunities.

The Top Ten Essentials For Getting Published In A Literary Magazine:

  1. Do not share or publish your writing anywhere on the Internet prior to seeking publication with a literary journal. Most editors will not consider previously published writing (in any form).
  2. Follow submission guidelines.
  3. Don’t explain your story or poem in your cover letter.
  4. Know your market by reading samples, checking out masthead and bylines, and more.
  5. Don’t include the copyright symbol (it’s not good etiquette in the publishing industry).
  6. Trust your instincts. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  7. Embrace rejection. It happens to every writer and is part of the submission process.
  8. Find a great proofreader.
  9. Research, research, research (in part to be sure your target market is trustworthy).
  10. Format your submission to industry standards: no fancy fonts, spacing, or colors.

Can You Make Money Submitting Short Stories And Poems For Publication In Literary Journals?

Unfortunately, there is not much money to be made from publishing short stories and poems in literary magazines. Many journals operate on a tight budget — if there’s any real budget at all. Very few actually turn a profit.

The Rights Literary Magazines Will Acquire

When a literary magazine publishes your short story or poem, it usually acquires first North American serial rights. Essentially, this means the publication will be the first to publish the work in North America, and after that, all rights revert to the writer.

Can New Writers Really Get Published In Literary Journals?

There is a myth in the publishing industry that “you have to be published to get published.” But that’s not true! Literary journal editors love discovering new writers. And getting published in the literary magazine market is one of the best ways to establish a toehold in the larger publishing industry. Many new writers make a name for themselves through literary magazine publications.

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