Thursday, May 23, 2013

How To Submit to Literary Magazines

Step 1: Write a story. This is not just the first, but the most important step. You're friends and writing group should have already gone over it, given you feedback, and put the piece through the ringer. It should be your best work.

Step 2: Research and read several literary magazines. Skip this step because you're too anxious to get your piece out there already.

Step 2b: Make a quick list of potential magazines using sites like NewPages, Poets&Writers, and maybe even the wikipedia lists of literary magazines that have been selected for Best American Short Stories, even though you know deep inside they're totally out of your league.

Step 3: Strictly follow the guidelines on each magazines website and submit.

Step 4: Eat chocolate to celebrate. Preferably a big bag of Rolos or white chocolate Lindor truffles.

Step 5: Check your email.

Step 6: Watch too many reruns of Frasier and Doctor Who.

Step 7: Sleep. Not really, because you're up checking your email all night on your iPhone.

Step 8: Wake up. And wonder why you haven't heard anything yet when its THE NEXT DAY ALREADY.

Step 9: Repeat steps 4-8 until you're five pounds heavier and the bags under your eyes look like purses.

Step 10: Work on other projects. In those moments when you can focus on something besides refreshing your email or checking your mailbox. This phase, along with number 1, should hopefully take up most of your time and energy, but we all know that some days that doesn't happen.

Step 11: Get an email. Beware of heart attack. You will most likely be driving and checking your phone, so be careful and at least come to a red light before you read the email. You will most likely need a few minutes to breath before you look at it anyway.

Step 12: Get rejected.

Step 13: Eat chocolate.

Step 14: Watch too many reruns of Frasier and Doctor Who.

Step 15: Finish another story.

Step 16: Repeat. Until one day the email you get doesn't start with "Unfortunately" or "We're sorry to inform you," but rather, a personalized note about how fabulous your story is and how they would love to have it in the magazine. Because that day will come. Along with much screaming and squealing and jumping and dancing and hopefully not car wrecking.

And that, my friends, is how you submit to literary magazines.


  1. Am I right to assume congratulations are in order???!!! If so, who-hoo :-)

    And you're lucky if you've had to wait until the next day... My quickest rejection has been within the hour - darn email. Although in days of snail mail, I had a rejection the next day!!

  2. Funny and good advice! Trying to find time to work on stories along with a book is not easy - but then nothing is, in the writing field. Thanks for the chuckle!

  3. I say slip in a 4.5 getting writing your next story. It helps with the stress.

    Notice how I left the chocolate before this step. It is definitely celebration time.



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