How High Schoolers Can Submit to Literary Magazines (Part 1)
Do you write fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction? Have you ever thought about submitting to literary journals and magazines, but you are unsure of why you should, or where to begin? In this article, you will learn the benefits of submitting creative work, and where to begin to look for places to submit.
By JOSH DO
WHY SUBMIT AT ALL?
Getting your piece published looks great on a CV. If you are applying to a liberal arts college, an editorial internship, or looking for a job that involves writing; having publication credits in a literary journal can help show that you are serious about your writing.
2) Getting Work Out There
Writing doesn’t have to be an isolated experience. Sometimes, if you are writing by yourself, without a strong network of writers around you, it can feel like a neverending slog. To submit your work is to participate with other writers who are also trying to get their work out into the world. And if you do get published, then you’ll get to make connections with the editors of the journal, have a chance to have an audience read your work, and you will also be in conversation with other writers in the same issue.
If you are hoping to eventually submit your full manuscript for publication, then getting individual poems, or stories, published in literary journals is a good way to gain momentum towards that goal. Getting individual publications are good indicators that your work is reaching people, and editors will recognize that when they are sifting through their manuscript submissions.
Submitting can be fun and addicting! You may get a thrilling wave once you submit to somewhere, and there is nothing like the dopamine rush if your piece gets accepted somewhere (but remember, even if you do get rejections, it may not even have anything to do with your writing–something we will touch on in a different article).
HOW TO FIND PLACES TO SUBMIT TO
If you have never submitted before, or if you only have done it a few times, then here are a few places where you can find literary journals, or magazines, to submit to:
Chillsubs is a fairly new (and free) database of journals and magazines that make it easier for folks to browse places that they are interested in submitting their work.
When you get to the home page, click “Browse,” and then click “Magazines.” You should be able to see all the ways you are able to filter out the type of submissions you are looking for.
You can search by magazine name, for any specific demographics the journal is looking for, word count, genre, vibe, submission fee, and if the publication pays for publishing your piece.
Another unique filter on this website is that you can search by contributor name, which means, if you have a favorite writer, you can search for their name, and see which magazines/journals that your favorite writer has been published in.
You can also just scroll all the way down, and click on any random journal that seems interesting to you, and get into some submission rabbit holes!
You can also follow chillsubs on twitter by searching @chillsubs, and they do a good job at compiling recent journals/magazines that are open for submission.
This is a more old-school way of looking for places to submit your work, with less filters than chillsubs, but the places listed are approved by Poets & Writers, the nation’s largest nonprofit serving creative writers.
3) English Departments / English Teachers
If you have access to someone who is an English teacher, odds are, they will have a good sense of places you can submit your work (they may even have more tips to help you submit your work). A lot of English teachers, more than likely, write on the side, and they would be a good resource to help add potential journals/magazines to your list
4) Your Local Bookstore
The local bookstore in your neighborhood is a heartbeat of the community. Not only do they typically have their ear to what is happening in the city, they also have employees that appreciate the art of writing, and as a bookstore, they probably have subscriptions to literary journals and literary magazines.
You can ask someone at a bookstore if they have any extra copies laying around, and if they do, you can get a sense of the aesthetics of the journal, and see the pieces that were published in the most recent issue.
5) The Acknowledgements Page
One of my favorite ways of figuring out where authors are submitting their work is to grab a copy of their book, flip to the back, and see if they have an “Acknowledgments” section. If they do, they typically will have a list of individual publications where the pieces were published before their book came out.
Similar to using the “contributor name” on chillsubs, this is a way of finding out where your favorite authors are submitting their work to, and if you are like me, you may want to follow in their footsteps.
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HOW TO DISTINGUISH ONE PLACE OVER ANOTHER
When trying to figure out which journal, or magazine, is the best fit for your submission, there are three aspects that can help determine which journal or magazine you may want to submit to.
Does the place have a particular type of look, or style, that you find appealing? Does the place like to publish a certain type of writing? Do you like their social media presence? All these questions can help figure out if the aesthetics of the journal or magazine is something you want to be a part of.
Is there a submission fee? And if there is, can you afford the $3-$5 to submit to the journal at the moment? And if you do, do they pay their contributors? If you don’t have the money to shell out submission fees, that is okay, that just means that it’ll help narrow down what places you want to submit to.
NOTE: You don’t have to only submit to journals that pay their contributors, a lot of the most famous journals, like POETRY, have no submission fee, and they pay their contributors pretty well (though, it is really hard to get accepted to it).
Prestige journals are places that are really hard to get published in, their acceptance rates may be <10%. These can be journals that you wish to be published in one day, and so this can be a journal you submit anytime you can, in hopes for the day you eventually get in!
As mentioned earlier in the article, you may be interested in a particular journal, or magazine, because one of your favorite writers is published in it. When you are browsing the journal, sift through past publications if you notice any recognizable names. Also, look at the masthead of the journal, or magazine, to see if you notice any names, you may want to submit to a place so you can work with a particular editor.
A lot of journals also do specific calls, or a specific themes, for their issues. This could look like seeking work from writers of a particular demographic, or from writers who have poems that deal with a current topic (ex. poems about climate change). You can also look at the mission, values, or goals of the journal to see if it aligns with your own personal interests or ideals.
There are many reasons why you might want to consider submitting your work to literary journals or magazines, but whatever your reason, make sure you do the research to see which literary journals or magazines may be a best fit for your work.
In the second part of this article, which will be published next month, I will go over how to create your own submission tracker, work through Submittable (an interface that many journals and magazines use), and how to format your cover letter for individual submissions.