Jessica Bell, co-publishing editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, shares some great tips for how to submit your work to literary magazines to help you get noticed.
Authors often overlook literary magazines or forget they even exist. But what many fail to realize is that they offer the perfect opportunity for you to get your name and work out there, available to the public. Let’s face it, the more you and your books have the chance to be noticed, the better.
Getting your work published in a literary magazine is a bit like having proof that you’re a worthy read. Why? Because it means there are editors out there who loved your work enough to include it in their publication. A publication that they consider their pride and joy. No literary magazine or journal is going to publish work that isn’t good enough. Their reputation is on the line, and they want to make sure that the loyal readers they have gathered over the years will stick around.
“What readers?” you ask. “Who really reads these things anyway?”
Writers. Lots of writers. And more importantly, literary magazine editors. They all want to see what their fellow magazines and journals are publishing. And there’s always a chance that you’ll make great connections with these editors, too.
Reach Writers By the Score
I’m the co-publishing editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and I can tell you for a fact that there are more than a few handfuls of authors that we’ve published which I now follow on various social media platforms, whose writerly news I like to pimp. I love their work and I think they deserve to be noticed. I’ve even bought books by authors that we’ve published.
See what’s happened here? Not only have these authors had their writing published in a literary magazine which they can flaunt on their website, but they’ve made a new fan, a sale and wowed a magazine editor enough to gain extra web exposure for subsequent published works. Pretty handy, yes?
But your chance of making great industry connections doesn’t stop there.
The community of writers that regularly submit to literary magazines is huge. And I can guarantee that if your work gets published in a literary magazine, every other writer that is published in that same issue is going to check you out. Why? Because they want to see what other writing their work is being associated with.
And guess what’s going to happen when the issue these writers are published in is released? They’re going to share it with all their friends and family. And their friends and family are, of course, going to share it with their friends and family (because everybody likes to know a published author, don’t they?). And all these people are going check the magazine out and read their friends’/family members’ piece(s). This means that these people could potentially read your work too. Bam! More authors to discover and connect with. More exposure.
Explore Every Opportunity
If you’re new to the fabulous world of literary magazines, I suggest the very first thing you do is subscribe to The Review Review’s newsletter to get all the latest news in lit mags delivered to your electronic doorstep.
Then, the very next thing you should do, is become a member of Duotrope.com. Duotrope is an established, award-winning writers' resource whose listings cover the entire spectrum. They offer a robust search feature to help you find the perfect match for your work from thousands of current fiction, poetry, and non-fiction markets. They have also compiled millions of points of data on the publications that they list into useful reports that help you make smart submission decisions. They also have a submissions tracker, which will keep you organized. You'll know what you sent where, when to expect a response, and when, if necessary, to write a follow-up query.
While you’re at it, I also suggest you check out NewPages.com which offers colourful “news, information and guides to independent bookstores, independent publishers, literary magazines, alternative periodicals, independent record labels, alternative newsweeklies, and more”.
Try Entry Level Options
Before I sign off, I must stress that you don’t ignore non-paying and token-payment markets. In fact, if you’re new to this, I suggest you focus on these for now. The list is massive, and if you submit widely, you’re bound to spark the interest of at least one editor. And if you collect a decent amount of publishing credits, you have a better chance of being published by the big guns like Granta, Tin House, or The Paris Review.
Some weekends I like to go on what I call “a submission binge”. I gather all the pieces of short fiction and poetry that I want published, and submit them all to about 50 different markets that accept simultaneous submissions. Then I wait. The last time I did this, I had eight acceptances. And I was fortunate in that they all chose different pieces, so I didn’t even have to withdraw any of my subs.
So what are you waiting for? Get your work published in literary magazines, and get noticed, today!