How High Schoolers Can Submit to Literary Magazines (Part 2)

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 part two of our mission to help you start submitting your creative work, we will talk about the importance of keeping a submission tracker, creating a Submittable account, and putting intention in your cover letter.


[Click here to see part one of this article]


A submission tracker is important because it will help you keep track of where your pieces are out for submission. This is important because if you do get a piece accepted, you have to go back and let other places [where you submitted the same piece] that the piece got accepted elsewhere. A submission tracker is also important because it allows you to see your progress, keep track of any submission fees, and the opening and closing dates of some submission periods

Here is a step-by-step guide of how to make a quick submission tracker of your own:

  • Step 1: Go to google sheets or microsoft excel
  • Step 2: Label your sheet “Submission Tracker – [insert your name]”
  • Step 3: Populate the top role with the following categories: NAME, OPENS, CLOSES, COST, STATUS, and TITLE OF PIECE (S)
  • Step 4: Highlight the first row. Go to “View.” Hit “Freeze.” Now, you will always be able to view the headings no matter how far down you scroll in your tracker. 
  • Step 5 (optional): I like to color-coordinate my rows based on the status of the piece. Purple means that it has been submitted and I am waiting to hear back. Red means that the piece (s) were rejected. And green means that my piece (s) were accepted.


Most literary journals (not all) funnel their submissions into a Submittable interface. Submittable is a service that literary journals use so that they can easily keep track of all their submissions, make comments on them, decide whether to accept/reject them, and have easy communication with the writer.

It is free to use as the submitter, and there is nothing much you have to do beyond making a free account. When you go to submit something to a magazine, you will often be transferred to the magazine’s submittable page, where you log-in, and then fill out the required information that the magazine wants.


Oftentimes, when submitting to a literary journal or magazine, there will be a field for you to complete your cover letter. This is a prime opportunity to show that you care about, or show interest about, the place that you are submitting to. Readers of magazines who sift through submissions, who are often underpaid [or doing it on a voluntary basis] sift through so many submissions. So, if you put the wrong journal name, or the wrong editor, they may just move on from your submission. You want to respect their time and show that you did research with their magazine. This means showing that you know any of the following things about the magazine: their aesthetics, the editor of the genre you are submitting to, published pieces that you liked, their mission/values, and other authors that you know were published in the journal. 

Here is an example outline for the cover letter:

Dear [put editor’s name here],

Thank you for the opportunity to submit to [enter journal name]. I enjoy [say something complimentary about journal or magazine]. I have attached [enter number of pieces you are submitting] for your consideration: [piece title 1], [piece title 2], [piece title 3], and so forth.



[street address]

[city, zip code]




[Your professional bio can go below the cover letter, unless their submission portal has a separate field for you to enter your bio]


I hope these tips help you feel better about the process of submitting your work. A lot of the process of submitting can be very subjective, so don’t fret if you don’t get accepted to everything you submit to. These tips are not sure-fire ways for you to definitely get published, but these tips are to help you stay organized, to make sure you crossed off all the necessary logistics, and to help you feel confident that you submitted the best submission possible.

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