I’ve been really going full-force on my writing. I am spending part of every day writing, but I’m also looking out to the business end of it. I have several stories that are ready for submission. And submitting to literary magazines is a process.
First, I have to shamefacedly admit that I’ve been submitting to literary magazines since I was thirteen. That means I have done lots of silly things along the way. Like sending in a submission written on my old manual typewriter because I thought it looked cooler. Like putting a little hand drawn copyright symbol in the corner of the first page with my name one it. Like the period of time after I talked to an actor about how they made their resume stand out to agents, and I decided to literally staple dollar bills onto the first page of my stories with a dialogue bubble coming out of George Washington’s mouth that said, “Thanks for reading!”
The facts are: you should make your submission adhere as much to conventional format standards as possible (12 point Times New Roman, double spaced), no literary magazine is out to steal your creative work, so there’s no need to copyright it, and the only thing that’s really going to make your work stand out in a way that matters is if it is very, very good.
I’ve been submitting since back in the dark ages when you had to send paper copies. Which meant that it used to be a huge hassle. Printing out tons of stories. Getting together tons of manila envelopes and smaller return envelopes and stamps. Thankfully, these days it’s much often much simpler. Many magazines let you submit electronically through tools like submishmash. But there’s still the problem of knowing who to send to.
Obviously, the best thing to do is be familiar with a few different literary magazines. But there’s also listings. Resources like Writer’s Market will give you tons of listings, and so will the literary page section of NewPages.com. Scroll through, go to the websites, try to read what you can, and then send it off. And cross your fingers. For about three months or more.
There’s a really cool tool I recently discovered on duotrope.com that helps you keep track of your submissions, so that you know where your work is still under consideration, and who to contact if it gets accepted somewhere and you need to pull it from other places. For the longest time, I’ve been doing this on a spreadsheet.
Submitting to literary magazines can be arduous work. I’ve gotten more rejection letters than I can count. But I’ve also gotten really nice ones, ones that talked about my work in depth and in detail, ones that encouraged me. And, notably, two letters that made me happier than most things have made me in life, from magazines that had accepted my work for publication.
Well, I’ve spent the last couple days submitting, and now I have a new batch of stories out there….and I’ve got my fingers crossed.