Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Guest Post: Literary Magazines in 5 Steps {WriterlyWednesday}

{today's guest post is brought to you by Ciara Hope of Forward Your Goal}
My New Year Resolution for 2012 was to receive ten rejection letters from literary magazines.
This may seem backward, but from what I’d heard about the competitiveness of the literary market, it seemed both realistic and doable. For years I’d heard professional writers speak on the value of perseverance when submitting your work out into the world, some suggesting that writers get a list of fifty markets for a single piece, and that they should expect to get turned down at least as many times.
For the longest time, I let these facts discourage me from submitting. I figured I’d spend more time honing my craft on my own, getting together some quality pieces, and worry about publishing when I felt ready.
The truth is, no matter what you’re trying to get published, whether a novel, short stories, or poetry, literary magazines are the ideal place to practice your craft and get publishing credentials. The kind that stand out on a query letter and scream, “hey, I know what I’m doing, and I love writing too much to let a couple rejections discourage me.”
I wish I’d known years ago all I do now about submitting to literary magazines, so here I’m sharing what I’ve learned in the past year:
1.      Go to Starting next year, you’ll have to pay for an account, but it’s well worth it. Use the search function to find publications that fit the genre, style, even the specific topic of your piece.
2.      Go to the publication’s website and read some of their material. Most have samples available for free online, but some might require you to buy a copy.
What are you looking for? Assess the style, tone, length, and topics the editors seem to favor and compare it to your own. Are the stories funny? Grim? Disjointed, or omniscient? The more you read, the better you can tell the difference between editor’s tastes.
3.      Read the guidelines, and follow them. Most publications will have a submission guide on their website. It will give info like word count, format, page numbering, etc., as well as whether you should submit by mail, email, or online.
4.      Submit. The worst thing that happens is you get a form rejection. Even those are pretty encouraging, saying things like “it wasn’t right for us,” or “we didn’t have enough room.” The lines are corny, but it does soften the blow. And anyway, if you persevere and keep submitting, you may…
5.      Get accepted. In the process of colleting ten rejection letters, I received my first acceptance, way sooner than I thought it would come. It’s important to stay realistic and not have an unattainable timeframe for your goals, but dreaming is still allowed. And when a victory comes, don’t hesitate to celebrate, share your joy, and then get right back to writing and submitting.
Ciara Hope is a writer and blogger at Forward Your Goal. If you have a goal, literary or otherwise, check out her blog at

No comments:

Post a Comment