You might think literary journals only publish poetry, stories, and personal essays (narrative nonfiction). But guess what? There are other types of works that editors routinely publish! Some of these may totally surprise you—and they may also be something you’d like to try your hand at!
Surprise! 6 Things Literary Journals Publish Other Than Poems, Stories, and Essays
Book Reviews. Many literary journals publish book reviews that have been published by independent presses. Although each literary journal’s style is unique, some of the book reviews can often be quite personal, literary, and inspiring—more of a reaction than a review.
Want to get your book review published in a literary journal? First, check the submission guidelines. If there’s no mention of book reviews, query the editor prior to making your submission. Some editors do not accept unsolicited book reviews, but if you pitch them an idea they like, they might just give you the green light to send your review in for their consideration.
Want to get your novel or collection of poems/stories reviewed by a literary journal? Again, query the editor. But be sure your book speaks to the unique tone, style, themes, and concerns of the literary journal in question. Don’t send a cozy mystery for review to a literary magazine that doesn’t publish mystery. Also, be aware that sometimes a literary magazine editor may accept a free copy of your book without promising a review. All you can do is cross your fingers and, after a time, send a nice follow-up note.
Academic Essays. Typically, academic essays are best submitted to scholarly journals dedicated to specific topics. However, if you’ve written an academic essay that shares the themes and concerns of a given literary journal, it might be worth your time to send a preliminary query to see if the editor might take a look.
Photography, drawings, etc. Editors of literary journals are frequently interested in artwork from talented artists, and because we’re living in a digital world, submitting your art and photos is easier than ever! Many literary journals have online forms for uploading image files. If you’re not sure a certain literary journal would be interested in publishing your artwork, send the editor a polite inquiry. Be sure to mention why you think your artwork would be a good fit for that specific magazine.
Interviews. Many literary journals publish interviews with well-known or up-and-coming new authors. Often these interviews are in Q&A form. Discussion topics range from creativity to literary criticism, and the interviewer is often as knowledgeable and insightful as the author who is being interviewed. Do you know a new, buzz-worthy author or a famous author you could interview? Before conducting your Q&A, send a one-page query letter to editors asking if they are interested in your interview subject.
Features. Literary journals will often feature an extended section on the work of one author. Unfortunately, there’s really no good way to hint that you should be the subject of a feature. And unless you’re working for (aka, volunteering at) a literary journal, it may be difficult to pitch a feature as well. Here at Writer’s Relief, we have seen clients become featured authors simply by making a traditional submission that catches an editors’ eye. So keep sending out your writing submissions!
Cover letters. Yes, literary journal editors will occasionally publish cover letters, with or without the writers’ appended submission. Sometimes a cover letter is so clever, so off-the-wall, or so inspiring that an editor can’t help but add one in the forthcoming issue. We’ve seen it happen. Just be warned: If you want editors to pay attention to your actual submission, follow the rules when writing your cover letter.