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How To Submit To Literary Magazines

August 8, 2018

Submitting to magazines can be nerve-wracking! If you’ve never done it before, it’s hard to know where to start. That’s why we’ve put together this list of must-know tips for sending your work out on submission—give them a try, and maybe we’ll be hosting you at a future Word On The Street Festival!


Step 1: Find who’s accepting submissions

First things first: you need to find somewhere to submit to. Each literary magazine will have their own submission periods. Some magazines do take submissions year round, but a lot of magazines will have specific calls for issues they have coming up. You can usually find calls for submissions on Twitter or in writers’ groups on Facebook. Make sure you’re following literary magazines on social, and sign up for their newsletters so you never miss a call.

It can definitely be hard to keep track of all these literary magazines and when they’re actually accepting submissions, but don’t worry! We’ve got you covered for the immediate future. We compiled this list of magazines that are accepting submissions from August to October!

But if you’re not ready to submit just yet, you can find more submission opportunities through free trackers like the Submission Grinder or paid services like Duotrope.


Step 2: Get to know the mag

Once you’ve found the magazine(s) you want to submit to, you shouldn’t just send off your manuscript without doing some digging. You want to make sure that you’re submitting to a magazine that will fit your story or poem or creative nonfiction.

Start by reading the submission guidelines for the magazine. Make sure that they accept the type of submission you’re sending in. If you have access, read some of their past issues. Find out what style of writing they typically purchase for publication.

It’s also good to check if there are fees for submitting, and think about whether it’s something you want to do—there are many magazines out there that don’t require them. You also definitely don’t want to pay a submission fee if the magazine you’re submitting to doesn’t even print work in your genre!

And check to see how they accept submissions. Do they take email submissions? Are they still only accepting hard copies? Or do they have a submissions manager set up? Make sure you’re sending your manuscript to the right place, or you might never get a response at all!


Step 3: Polishing up your submission

Where to send? Check. How to send? Double check. Now you’ve got to put together your final touches on your manuscript before you send it off!

The first rule of sending out submissions is always copy edit. Always, always do another round of editing for typos, spelling errors, and grammatical mistakes before submitting your manuscript! Not all magazines are stickler for perfection, but you also want to make sure your piece isn’t riddled with errors.


Step 4: Setting up your submission

Another tip: set your submission up in standard manuscript format. This makes it easier for the editors to read the piece, and it also helps make sure the reader is paying attention to your story—and not your font choice!

It also helps to have fresh eyes take a look. Before sending a piece out, send it to some beta readers for feedback!. Maybe there’s an awkward sentence or you left out some background information—how did the character exit through a closed door?! Having someone else look over your submission will give you a little more insight into how it reads outside your brain.

You’ll also want to find out if your manuscript is going through a blind reading process. This means that there shouldn’t be any identifying information on your manuscript, including your name, email, or business. This is very important! Forgetting to remove your information from a blind submission could automatically disqualify you.


Step 5: Put your best foot forward

There’s one last step before you’re ready to send off your submission: your cover letter. Don’t be alarmed! Most magazines prefer a short, sweet cover letter that gives them a snippet of who you are as a writer—and it’s totally fine if who you are is previously unpublished. Your work should speak for itself!

But let’s break down the anatomy of a cover letter.

Let’s start with your greeting. Unless specified, it’s best to start your cover letter with “Dear editors,” and a quick greeting. You don’t want to make wrong assumptions about the submission reader—many magazines have first readers who sort through the submissions pile, and you want to include them, too! Plus, there’s no better way to frustrate an editor than by misgendering them with a not-so-catch-all “Dear Sirs”!

Next, tell them about yourself. When including a biography with your cover letter, you want to keep it short. Just give a quick overview of your background and relevant professional experience. When listing off recent publications, keep it to your most recent or your most relevant credits.

Ultimately, it’s all about the writing—a short, sweet cover letter lets editors skim to know who you are, while still giving context to your submission.

Now you’re ready to go! We’ll be keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll be reading your next story or poem in a literary journal sometime soon!