#5onFri: Five Tips for Submitting Your Work to a Literary Magazine

by Elise Holland
published in Community

Getting your work published in a literary magazine or journal can serve to build your resume, and grow your writing community. From researching the publications that best fit your work, to writing your cover letter, to clicking “submit,” there are several important steps in sending work to an editor. Here are 5 actionable tips to help you efficiently submit your short fiction, essays or poetry to magazines and journals.

1) Know your options

When you first begin exploring literary magazines and journals, it is completely normal for the market to seem intimidating. A quick Google search will yield a dizzying number of options, and it is helpful to have some context to guide your research.

Sites such as Poets and Writers or Submission Grinder are great resources for sorting through the market. These sites offer a list of magazines and journals, along with some details regarding the type of work each publication seeks, and related deadlines.

Read as many literary magazines and journals as possible, to get a feel for the kind of writing different publications seek. If you want to conserve cash, many magazines and journals also publish work for free on their websites. Be sure to read those pieces in addition to any hard copies you select to purchase. Look carefully at each publication you read. Do they mostly publish poetry, essays or fiction? Do they prefer literary or genre work?

2) Find publications and editors that share a similar taste to your own

Editors at varying publications will have different taste/preferences, and you will see that reflected in the work they select to publish. When you are overwhelmed by the number of magazines and journals out there, consider that it is best to boil it down to those that you enjoy reading.

It’s very intuitive; if you find a journal to be boring or odd, then it is probably not a good fit for your work! If you love the stories a magazine prints, and you find them to be similar to your writing style, submit your work! While there is no way to be 100% certain your work will be selected, following this rule of thumb will point you in the right direction.

3) Make your cover letter sweet and simple

As editor at 2 Elizabeths, I see a variety of cover letters every day; some are excellent, and others could stand to be improved. With that in mind, there are a few key pieces of information you want to include in your own cover letters, while keeping them short and sweet. In fact, a cover letter should only be a couple of paragraphs long, and no more than roughly 100 – 150 words.

A few tips on writing cover letters:

  • Try to seek out the editor’s name instead of using a generic greeting. Usually, you can find this information on the magazine or journal’s website, or in their submission guidelines.
  • Be certain to read the submission guidelines thoroughly for each publication you send your work to. This should state the exact details that need to be included in each cover letter.
  • I recently wrote a full article on the perfect cover letter, here. Check it out for clear, simple instructions, along with sample letters.

4) Track your submissions.

Most magazines and journals will accept simultaneous submissions, meaning that you can send the same piece to several publications for concurrent consideration. Compound that with multiple submissions, meaning you send more than one piece of work to the same publication to consider at one time, and you can see how it might become difficult to remember what work you’ve sent where!

To avoid forgetting to send a piece to an editor who might love it, or alternatively, to avoid sending the same piece to the same editor more than once, it is a great idea to track your submissions with a simple list or spreadsheet. Click here for your free template!

5) Celebrate and Keep Going!

Take a moment to acknowledge what you’ve accomplished; you’ve submitted a piece of thoughtfully curated art, all your own. I believe it is important to celebrate our accomplishments, big or small, in some meaningful way. It is important to do this in order to prevent burnout, and to continue to love creating your work. So, call an old friend to join you for dinner, take your dog to your favorite park, or just pour yourself a relaxing bubble bath at the end of a long day. Choose a small celebration that resonates with you, and enjoy!

Once you’ve celebrated, the best thing you can do is get back to writing! Keep your creative juices flowing, and increase your odds of being selected for publishing, by writing and submitting work frequently. While you’re at it, send your short fiction or poetry to 2 Elizabeths! We would be honored to read your work.

Elise Holland is co-founder and editor of 2 Elizabeths, a short fiction and poetry publication. Her work has appeared in various publications, most recently in Story a Day, and at JaneFriedman.com.  Through 2 Elizabeths, Elise strives to create value and visibility for writers, through writing contests, events, and more!


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