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A Complete Guide to Literary Magazine Submissions

Books & Writing

June 22, 2023

Navigating the world of literary magazine submissions can be overwhelming for teenage writers who are just starting out. This article acts as a comprehensive guide, providing essential steps to follow when submitting their work.

It covers important aspects such as selecting the right magazines, understanding submission guidelines, polishing writing pieces, crafting engaging cover letters, tracking submissions, achieving publication, and effectively managing rejections. By adhering to these guidelines, aspiring young writers can approach the submission process with confidence, enhancing their chances of publication and fostering growth in their writing careers.

1. Selecting Suitable Magazines

When it comes to selecting magazines, reading them is a fantastic way to start. Duotrope is an excellent resource that provides a comprehensive list of literary magazines, allowing writers to search based on factors like pay rate and genre. By researching and reading these publications, writers can determine if their work aligns with the magazine's style.

It's important to prioritize magazines that resonate with your aspirations and that you genuinely enjoy reading. After selecting a range of magazines (around 10 to 30), organize them into tiers of about five. Begin by submitting your work to the top-tier magazines that appeal to you the most. If they reject your submission, move on to the next tier, and continue this process until you've gone through all your tiers. This strategic approach maximizes your chances of publication while focusing on magazines that truly interest you.

Pixabay From Pexels

Pixabay From Pexels

2. Understanding Submission Guidelines

Literary magazines have specific submission guidelines that writers must adhere to. It is essential to carefully read these guidelines before submitting any work.

1. Word Count

Understanding the word count limitations set by a literary magazine is crucial. Magazine editors are intentional when they establish these limitations, as it determines the space allocated to each author's work. Unless the magazine explicitly states flexibility in word count, it is important to treat the specified limit as a firm rule.

2. Genre

When it comes to genre, literary magazines typically have specific preferences or focus on particular genres such as poetry, creative nonfiction, fiction, artwork, or a combination of these. It is important for writers to research and identify the genres that a particular magazine specializes in or showcases.

3. Format

The format is another critical aspect to consider when submitting to literary magazines. Each magazine may have specific formatting requirements for manuscripts, such as font size, spacing, margins, and file format. It is important for writers to carefully review and adhere to these guidelines to ensure their work is presented professionally.

4. Reading Period

Another important aspect to consider when submitting to literary magazines is the reading period. Literary magazines typically have specific periods during which they accept submissions. It is crucial for writers to be aware of these reading periods and submit their work within the designated timeframe.

Following these guidelines shows professionalism and increases the chances of acceptance.

Energepiccom From Pexels

3. Polishing Your Work

Once you have selected the appropriate literary magazines and familiarized yourself with their submission guidelines, the next crucial step is to polish your work.

1. Edit & revise

Review your work with a critical eye, focusing on elements such as clarity, coherence, grammar, and punctuation. Make sure your writing flows smoothly and effectively communicates your ideas.

2. Seek feedback

Share your work with trusted friends, writing groups, or mentors. Their feedback can provide valuable insights and suggestions for improvement. Consider their perspectives while staying true to your artistic vision.

3.Take breaks

Give yourself some distance from your work before the final edit. Stepping away and returning with fresh eyes can help you spot areas that require improvement.

Cottonbro From Pexels

4. Crafting Cover Letters

A well-crafted cover letter is crucial when submitting your work. Personalize it by including relevant information like writing credentials, publication history, and why your work is a good fit for the magazine. Keep the letter concise and genuine, and showcase your enthusiasm for the publication.

A great example can be found at The Caffeinated Writer:

Image From The Caffeinated Writer

5. Tracking Submissions

An essential aspect of the submission process is effectively tracking your submissions. One popular method for organizing this information is by using spreadsheets. Creating a spreadsheet allows you to easily record details such as submission dates, magazine names, response times, and any feedback received.

You can customize your spreadsheet to include additional columns for tracking follow-ups or categorizing submissions by genre or theme. By maintaining a well-organized spreadsheet, you can stay on top of your submissions and make informed decisions moving forward.

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6. Achieving Publications & Managing Rejections

When you receive an acceptance from a literary magazine, take the time to celebrate and appreciate your accomplishment. It's a validation of your talent and hard work. Congratulations!

Danilevich From Pexels

However, it's important to recognize that rejections are a common part of the publishing process. Even the most successful authors have faced numerous rejections before achieving success. Instead of feeling disheartened, use rejections as motivation to improve your work and enhance your writing skills.

Embrace the opportunity for growth, seek feedback, and continue honing your craft. Remember, persistence, resilience, and a commitment to self-improvement are key to navigating the publishing journey.

Milton From Pexels

Submitting to literary magazines is an exhilarating journey for aspiring writers, but it can also be challenging. By selecting magazines, understanding submission guidelines, polishing works, and crafting cover letters, writers can increase their chances of publication. Additionally, getting published and learning from rejections are meaningful parts of the journey. So don't hesitate and start your literary magazine submissions journey today!

Christina Zhang
5,000+ pageviews

Christina is a high school junior from China currently living and studying in Massachusetts, United States. She has a deep passion for international relations, public policy, and social justice. She finds particular delight in musicals, with “Hamilton,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” and “Six!” being among her favorites!