For the new writer, literary journals offer the opportunity to showcase your work, and make a name for yourself. For the experienced writer, it’s a great way to share your work in community with others who love to read. But, how do you go about choosing which literary journal to submit your work to? In this article, we’ll discuss the process.
If you think of literary journals as not a 5-star hotel that only a few privileged people can get into, but more of a public park where you can have a picnic anytime, anywhere, then submitting becomes far easier. Consider having a portfolio of writing that includes three to five polished pieces to submit, and begin sourcing markets. Here are some ideas to consider:
1. Author Biographies: Begin by looking for the right literary journal through the biographies of the authors you read and love. Where have they been published. Author bios become an immediate source of creating a plan and path for your own success. For instance, if you’re a crime writer, you can see that Val McDermid, the Queen of Mystery, published one of her earliest short stories, “Driving A Hard Bargain,” in The Mail on Sunday. If you have similar aspirations, you might do the same, or find a similar opportunity.
2. Writers Conferences: Conferences like the annual AWP will give you an incredible opportunity to meet the editors of literary journals directly. If you have the opportunity to attend, ask them what they are most interested in reading and what they have seen too much of. Doing so, you may find that journals you thought perfect are less so, while realizing that others not on your original radar are a perfect fit for you. Conferences also connect you with new markets and startups, giving you a chance to be part of some early issues before they take off.
3. Online market listings: Weekly or monthly listings are available online, and offer writers a cache of market opportunities to scour through on a regular basis. It can seem like an easy way to know at a glance which markets are accepting what and when. The one (possible) downside is that they’re being viewed by thousands of other writers, all submitting, too. The upside is possibly gaining an opportunity you might not have known about if you’d searched on your own.
Check out the following online sources:
Erica Dreifus’ The Practicing Writer
4. Yearly anthologies: Best of Anthologies are cultivated through the editorial recommendations of the most prominent journals over the preceding year. It’s an added bonus to publish with journals that submit work to these yearly collections because, if your work is chosen, it gets published and read again. Collections like The Pushcart Prize, Non-Required Reading; Best of Sci-fi & Fantasy; O. Henry Prize Awards, are great places to start. At the back of each edition is a superb list of journals that can be utilized as a resource for submitting your own work.
And what about rejections? Aren’t they part of the process? Sure, but they are also a needed part of the process. If your work is declined, don’t take it personally. Make sure you did your homework, and keep trying. Always be willing to go back and revise, and keep writing. Consider the writing process of the late author, Ray Bradbury, who wrote a short story a day. He wasn’t waiting around to hear ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Instead, he continued to write and develop his craft for many years, even after he gained success.
We have so many opportunities and places to write for today so keep busy. Pretty soon, you’ll get one acceptance, and then another, and another.
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- Submit to Anthologies to Promote Yourself and Your Book(s)! – By Johnny Townsend
Hunter Liguore is a writer, professor, and historian. Her work has appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, Irish Pages, Anthropology & Humanism, and more. Her picture book, “The Whole World in Nan’s Soup” is forthcoming from YeeHoo Press. For more: www.hunterliguore.org or @skytale_writer.
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