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New Writers: How To Get Your First Publication From A Literary Journal

You’re a new writer ready to pursue your first publication credit, but you’re hesitating because of the what ifs. What if your writing isn’t good enough? What if your submission screams “newbie”? What if you have to be published to get published?

It’s easy to let indecision and the what ifs stop you from submitting your first piece to literary journals. But don’t overlook the most important what if—what if you get an acceptance? While getting your first publication credit isn’t easy, the truth is that  literary journals love discovering new talent! Here’s how you can go from new writer wannabe to your first publishing success.

6 Tips For Getting Your First Acceptance From A Literary Journal

Write well. When a literary journal editor is deciding whether they want to publish your work, they’ll consider several factors—and the most important will be the strength of the writing. Is your concept interesting and unique? Does your writing style epitomize craft? A well-written piece will help you overcome any shortage of writing credits.

Edit even better. Before you think about making submissions, go over your story, essay, or poem with a fine-tooth comb. Formatting your work to publishing industry standards is crucial—and eliminating typos is too. Literary journals hate sloppy proofreading errors like spelling slip-ups and grammar gaffes! Proofread your own work meticulously, ask a grammar geek friend or colleague to look it over, or hire a professional to review it for you.

Create a solid cover letter. Many new writers are stumped when it comes to composing a cover letter—if you don’t have any publication credits, what else can you talk about? Don’t panic! Keep it simple and professional: Introduce the title of your piece and include a brief biography. Fight the urge to pad your new author bio with irrelevant information: Read more here.

Submit to Review Board
Research the right markets. The best writing in the world won’t ever be accepted if it’s sent to the wrong place! Start with an Internet search and then narrow down a list of journals that are right for you. It can take many hours to find the best markets most likely to be interested in your work—but it’s the only way to improve your odds of getting accepted.

Read the submission guidelines carefully for the genre, the word count or page count the journal accepts, the themes and topics they prefer, etc. Does the journal require emailed submissions, or do they have a Submittable account? Do they want the author’s contact information to appear on the work, or do they read blind submissions?

If researching and targeting the right literary journals seem too time consuming and complicated, let Writer’s Relief help! Finding the best markets for your work is what we do best!

Submit your work to many different journals. Instead of submitting your work to a handful of the highest caliber literary journals, expand your horizons and send your submission to a larger, more eclectic mix. Literary journals small and large, old and new, each have their own merits—you may be surprised where you find the best home for your piece!

And After You’ve Sent Out Your Submissions…

Prepare yourself for rejection. Whether you’re a new writer or a seasoned author, rejection is a fact of life—but it can be especially discouraging when you’re just starting out. Remember, frequent rejection has nothing to do with your writing skill. Getting an acceptance can be a numbers game. Each rejection brings you one step closer to an acceptance!


Writer Questions


QUESTION: If you’re a seasoned writer, what’s the number one tip you would give to a new writer?





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