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7 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Submitting To Literary Journals

submitting to literary journals

Ready to send your poems, short story, or essay out into the world? Stop right there! What do you really know about the literary journal you’ve chosen to submit your writing to? Before you hit “send” on your keyboard or stick a postage stamp on that envelope, make sure you’ve answered these seven important questions.

What You Should Ask Before Sending Work To A Literary Publication

Is the journal a good match for my writing?

The style and genre of the literary journal you’re sending a submission to should match your own. If the journal features edgy, experimental pieces, your nostalgic holiday story about baking apple pies with your family isn’t going to work. Likewise, you wouldn’t send a sonnet to a magazine that specializes in traditional haiku.

And watch your word count! Sending an 8,000-word story to a publication that only accepts works 3,500 words or shorter will automatically result in rejection.

Is this literary magazine in my league?

Take a look at the work the journal publishes and be honest: Is your writing of the same caliber? No one can predict whether an editor will like your particular piece, but the closer your writing is to the quality already found in the magazine, the better your odds of being accepted.

And if you feel that your writing is actually better than what you’re reading, you might want to consider sending your submission to a journal that’s a step up.

Will this publication credit advance my writing career?

Of course, when you’re just starting out, any publication credit is a good credit! But what writer doesn’t dream of seeing his or her work in The Paris Review or The New Yorker?

While there’s nothing wrong with reaching for the stars, it’s important to be realistic. A publishing credit in a well-respected, mid-range journal will give your writing plenty of credibility—and more importantly—exposure. Agents and editors are always reading literary magazines in search of new writers.

So when you’re choosing which literary journals to submit your work to, be sure to cast a wide net and include good mid-tier magazines along with your top-tier favorites.

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Is there a fee to make submissions?

The number of literary magazines charging fees for online submissions is steadily increasing. The cost is generally minimal and helps the journals meet expenses, host contests—and in some cases, offer writers payment on publication. Make sure you know if you need to pay a fee when sending your submission.

Are simultaneous submissions acceptable?

Submitting to journals that accept simultaneous submissions means that you can send your work to multiple magazines all at onceand increase your chances of getting an acceptance!

If you’re really interested in a journal that does not accept simultaneous submissions, you can still send your work there. Just be prepared to wait (and wait) for their response before you can submit that piece anywhere else.

Does the journal have theme issues?

Submitting your work to a magazine’s theme issue can help tip the scales in your favor. Your poem about enduring love may have a better chance with the journal’s Valentine’s Day issue than it might in a regular submission during the summer. Or that piece you wrote about your “Rosie the Riveter” grandmother working on WWII airplanes? It could be perfect for a publication’s special issue celebrating strong women.

Are there reading dates?

Some journals read year-round, others only during specific months or weeks. Occasionally, a magazine receives so many submissions that it abruptly closes its reading period. Confirm that the literary journal you’re thinking of sending work to is actually open to submissions.

So, how do you find all the answers to your questions? Research! Research! And, yes, more research! Read back issues of the literary journals you’re considering. Use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc.) to follow and learn more about the publication and its readers. And always, always, pay attention to the magazine’s submission guidelines.

If the thought of researching and preparing your submissions to literary journals—or of using social media like Facebook—seems like more than you want to attempt on your own, Writer’s Relief is ready to help you with both.

Writer QuestionsQUESTION: What do you think is the most important information to have before you send out submissions?

One Response to 7 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Submitting To Literary Journals

  1. I would agree with your first point about whether it is a good match. Making sure the tone is a fit is the most important. It helps you not to waste their or your time. I think a lot of writers like the publication and like their piece and try to force it when submitting to another publication might work better. Great article – thanks!

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