Publishing in Literary Magazines: new blog series

In Stephen King’s On Writing—a work of creative nonfiction that blends memoir with advice on writing craft—the author talks about keeping track of rejection slips for some of his earliest short stories. 

He hammered a nail into his wall and every time he got a rejection, he slipped it onto the nail and then tried again. 

Soon he had racked up so many rejections that he had to abandon the nail, which was becoming too weighted down with paper, and replaced it with a large spike. He kept writing, kept submitting, and kept accumulating rejections. 

Stephen King did, of course, eventually go on to sell a story; today, he’s one of the most popular American novelists in history. But he, like everyone, had to start somewhere. 

And King got his start the same way many creative writers do: by submitting his work to literary magazines. 

What Are Literary Magazines?

Also called literary journals, or sometimes shortened to “lit mags,”...

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How to Submit to Lit Mags

It's a big beautiful lit mag world!

Let's Talk Literary Magazines

If you caught my introductory post on literary magazines (lit mags) last month, then you might already be thinking about sending out your first submission to a journal. 

So where do you begin?

Well, to start, you want to make sure your piece is ready for submission. That means you’ve revised the work carefully, and proofread the final product to catch any errors.

Lit mag editors often receive hundreds—even thousands!—of submissions to go through every month. If you want to stand out among the slush pile, you want your piece to be as polished as you can get it. 

But once your piece is ready to be sent out for consideration, you might be mystified by the process. How do you format the manuscript? What do you include in your bio and cover letter? Should you include content or trigger warnings?

In this post I’m going to walk you through the process and help you get your...

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Lit Mag Publishing Tools: Submittable and Duotrope

Wondering how to use Submittable and Duotrope to help you publish in literary magazines? Or confused about Submittable vs. Duotrope and what the role of each might be?

And if you know your way around a fountain pen converter more easily than most software, don’t worry – I will break things down for you.

Submittable vs. Duotrope

If you’re new to submitting work for publishing and you’re just starting to build your lit-mag list, you’ve probably noticed Submittable on the submissions guidelines for many lit-mag websites. So, what is it?

Submittable is an online submissions tool that helps writers submit their work and keep track of submissions. 

You may have also heard of Duotrope, another submission resource that can serve emerging writers. Today, I’m going to give you some insight into both and tell you how they can help your writing career. 

This is not spon-con. No one from Submittable or Duotrope is paying me to write this piece, and...

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Submitting to Literary Magazines: What's Next?

I travel a lot.

In part because my day job requires it of me, but in part simply because it’s something I love to do—meeting new people, trying new foods, getting to see parts of the world I have only read about or seen on TV. 

But every time I get on a plane and whisk myself off on some new adventure, there are still some things that I fret about when I’m leaving my house for a long period. 

Did I lock the back door? 

Did I turn my oven off? 

Did that stranger behind me in the security line slip cocaine into my carry-on when I wasn’t looking? 

No matter how many times you do a thing, all of your anxieties—even if irrational (who the heck gives away free cocaine as a prank?)—don’t just go away.

And submitting work for publishing is no different. Now that we’ve reached the end of our lit-mag publishing series, let’s talk about the hardest part: the wait.

You’ve polished up your piece of writing to...

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