Many writers assume the best submission strategy is to focus only on the famous literary agencies and prestigious publications. But the harsh reality is, barely 1% of submissions to these elite markets are ever accepted. And when a popular literary journal receives 10,000 submissions in a reading period or a big-name agent gets a minimum of 5,000 queries a year, even great writing is going to be rejected. At Writer’s Relief, our research experts know a better strategy for getting published and garnering awards like Best of the Net or Pushcart Prize nominations. Here are 8 reasons why you should keep an open mind and try a lesser-known journal or agent.
8 Reasons To Try A Lesser-Known Journal Or Literary Agent
- Newer markets can be more open to variety. Most well-established literary journals or agents have a “brand” in place that they have to uphold—so they may only accept a very narrow style or genre of writing to fit that brand. However, newer and lesser-known literary markets don’t have those constraints, so they’re more open to considering a wide variety of topics and styles!
- Building a wide variety of publishing credits will help your career. When your work is accepted by a variety of literary markets, it shows that your writing “plays well with others” and appeals to a wide range of editors and readers. And if you’re a book author, having excerpts published in literary journals proves there’s a market for your story—which will help boost agents’ interest in your book!
- Lesser-known markets can be more welcoming. If you don’t yet have any publication credits, that’s okay—every writer has to start somewhere! Smaller literary journals or newer agents are more likely to consider writers with fewer publication credits as well as established writers who are trying a new genre.
- Newer agents and editors offer unexpected benefits. Junior literary agents who are just starting to take on their own clients come with huge benefits for writers: They’re likely to have more time for individual writers and submissions, since they don’t have as many clients. And they will be carefully supervised, so you’ll still benefit from the more established agents’ expertise.
If you take a look at the bios of the editors at newer or smaller literary journals, you’ll often find they are experienced, well-published, and respected in the publishing industry. And with less competition from other writers, you’ll have an easier time of catching the editors’ attention and getting an acceptance.
- A lesser-known or newer agent or journal may respond more quickly. Waiting for responses from journals and agents is sometimes the hardest part of making submissions. A market that isn’t quite as new or prestigious will still have a lot of submissions in their queue for consideration—but not as many as the biggest names! This means smaller or newer markets are more likely to get back to you in a timely manner. And unlike bigger markets sifting through 150,000 submissions a year, a lesser-known option may have time to offer valuable feedback on your writing.
- Better odds at the same “perks.” Writers who aren’t in the know tend to dismiss the power of smaller markets. If you’ve got your sights set on nominations for awards like the Pushcart, or a book deal with a traditional Big Five Publisher, you may think a prestigious literary journal or agent is your best shot—but that’s not true! Literary agents starting out on their own may have powerhouse connections, and many mid-tier journals nominate for awards (and you’ll face less competition from other writers!). As an added bonus, awards committees and publishers love discovering new talent, so they’re sure to take recommendations from smaller agents and journals seriously.
- Any agent or editor can help you network. The world of literary agents is a small, tight-knit one, as is the world of literary journals. These people are often talking to each other and refer writers to each other! Plus, newer or smaller journals and agents will network more aggressively, since they’re as eager to build their careers as you are to build yours. Making connections with these up-and-coming agents and editors could help you meet even more powerful names in publishing.
- Submitting widely boosts your odds of getting an acceptance. Having a solid submission strategy is imperative for any writer who’s trying to get published or land a literary agent. Submitting to a wide range of upper- and mid-tier markets is crucial for a successful submission strategy. With a saturated market of writers submitting to big-name journals and agents, branching out from your submission comfort zone is our number one tip for success.
Remember: Lesser known doesn’t mean lesser quality! If a market that’s less established or less popular seems like a strong fit for your writing, give this hidden gem a shot! If you’re ready to cast a wider net, the research experts at Writer’s Relief can help you create an effective submissions strategy that boosts your odds of getting an acceptance. Learn more about our services and submit your writing sample today!
Question: Which lesser-known journal or agent do you consider a hidden gem?