From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

6 Questions about Submitting to Literary Magazines

I have some questions for you all in regards to submitting short stories, poetry, creative non-fiction, etc. to literary magazines:

-How do you keep track of what you've submitted where and when?
-How do you find new magazines to submit to?
-How do you tell which magazines tend towards your type of work? [something more efficient though perhaps less effective than the obvious answer of reading the magazine.]
-What do you put in the cover letter when they ask you to write a cover letter.
-How do you know when a piece is ready to submit?
-How do you know when to give up on a piece, and what do you do with it then?

I have some answers to these questions, but they either aren't working for me as well as I would like, or I would just like some corroboration or fresh ideas. I keep track of pieces by listing them in a word document along with where and when I've submitted them, color coded with submitted, accepted and rejected. I look on and NewPages. I am very lacking in ideas for how to see which magazines would like my work. I usually put previous publications and maybe something interesting about myself in the cover letters. I never think a piece is ready to submit, but I submit it anyway, and I'm still thinking of what to do with pieces I've given up on, but one place I've been using lately is DeviantArt. I've heard that a good rule of thumb is forty rejections.

Anyway, I really would love your answers to any or all of these questions. Any advice could make my and other writers lives much easier. So, what are your brilliant or even not-quite-brilliant ideas?

Sarah Allen


  1. These are all questions I have too. So here's what I do (not that I think that all my answers are right either):

    I keep track of what I've submitted via email. I use gmail which lets me color code with stars (blue for submitted, red for rejected, green for accepted, etc.) I email most submissions but the ones that use an online form still send me a confirmation email.

    I find places to submit the same ways you mentioned (, etc). If I run across any mentioned via twitter, facebook, or blogs, I bookmark them in a folder in my browser.

    I am also stumped as to which ones to submit to. I often just read the publications description and submission guidelines, then go with my gut. Not very efficient.

    My cover letter usually includes anything they've specifically asked for (word count, etc), my author bio, where I heard about them, the title of the piece, and of course, a thanks for reviewing my work.

    I also never get to the point where I think something is ready, but there is a "good enough". It usually happens after I have had several people critique it and I make changes based on those suggestions. I get impatient a lot and just do it.

    I've usually only given up on a piece for a short time. I still keep them around and if I run across a place I think may like it, I may try to resubmit it again. I know other people who have put this kind of stuff on for free and get what reviews they can out of them.

    Good luck! If you get any other suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

  2. I am so glad to see this post. Its tone reflected my attitude about managing submissions.

    I submit rarely, and only to publications I've taken the time to become very familiar with and feel fairly confident would be interested in my work.

    I'm considering using a service such as Writers' Relief to edit my work, decide on the best places to send it, submit it for me, and and track of the status of submissions.

    Dealing w/ social media (marketing myself) takes up a ton of writing time. I just don't want to devote the time required to managed my subscriptions . . .

    Wonder if I should look into Smashwords, though.

  3. Thank you all for your kind words and wonderful ideas. I appreciate it, and its nice just to know what other writers are doing and thinking. Thanks!



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