If you’ve haven’t tried getting published in a literary journal yet, you could be missing out on a career-building publishing opportunity. Short story writers, poets, and essayists can publish their work in lit mags to build their reputations, readership, and publishing credits. Book authors can publish an excerpt in a lit mag in order to build an audience or attract an agent. Are you ready to start your journey toward publishing in a lit mag? Here’s how to give it a try.
Step-By-Step Guide To Getting Published In A Literary Magazine
- Read like a writer. Many of the world’s best writers say there’s no better way to improve your technique than to read voraciously. If you hope to get published in literary journals, start reading them now. Subscribe to a few, or read online literary journals available for free. There’s a lot you can learn from reading across the lit mag market: craft and technique, editorial preferences, lit mag trends, and modern discourse on timely subjects.
- Cultivate a professional attitude. Take your writing seriously; take your submission strategy seriously. Most successful writers have treated their writing like a career from day one—long before they were famous. You’ll need to have a professional attitude about your writing to overcome the frustrations and challenges of getting your work published in a literary magazine, especially if you’re just breaking in.
- Start researching your target literary journals. Researching literary magazines is the key make-or-break step in your publishing journey. Why? If you’re sending your work to the wrong literary journals, the rejections will pour in. You might assume your writing is to blame and give up. Which would be a shame, since getting your work to the right lit mag editor at the right time might be all you need to strike publishing gold. We recommend targeting no fewer than twenty or twenty-five markets for your submission. Learn more about organizing your search for literary magazines.
- Prepare your submissions. Once you’ve identified the best literary journals for your submission (and eliminated the thousands of journals that aren’t right for it), you’re ready to prep your work. To make a good impression, your manuscript pages must be properly formatted and proofread. Your cover letter must strike the right tone. And your author bio must list your publishing credits according to professional standards. If you don’t have any publishing credentials, don’t worry! Everyone starts somewhere. You can demonstrate your dedication to craft in your cover letter by doing these things.
- Create a tracking system. Dashing off emails, filling out submission managers, or even mailing old-school letters sounds easy enough—but what happens when you want to submit a brand-new story or group of poems, and you can’t remember which editor is considering which work? You need a way to keep your submissions organized and easy to track. Create a spreadsheet file that lists: title of submission, date sent, title of literary journal, method of submission (email, submission manager, etc.), response, response date, and any other important notes (if they asked you to submit again, etc.). Start here if you’d like to use the Writer’s Relief system for your DIY submissions.
- Repeat. Making successful submissions can be a numbers game: the more often you submit quality writing, the better your odds are of connecting with a lit mag editor. Submitting a single round of submissions is only the beginning of your publishing journey. Expect to submit many, many more pieces to many different literary journals. We recommend casting a wide net and maintaining a positive attitude.
A Final Word About Creating Your Personal Submission Strategy
The steps we’ve outlined will get you started on the road to publication in literary journals. But for the best results, you should also set specific goals: I will send out twenty-five submissions every two months. Then, reward yourself for completing the process—not for the end results.
If the thought of losing all your spare writing time to researching and tracking submissions seems like a road you’d rather not travel—we can help. Writer’s Relief can target the 25+ markets most likely to be interested in your writing, professionally prepare your work, and track your submissions for you. We’ll do all the busywork—you focus on what you love to do: write!
If you’d like to see how Writer’s Relief can help you with the submission process and reaching your publishing goals, submit your work to our Review Board today.
QUESTION: Which of the above steps do you find to be the most challenging?
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