How to Submit Work to a Literary Magazine

| Posted in Publishing.

Pile of magazinesThere are thousands of literary magazines out there. The topics covered differ, from ones that only publish creative works to magazines that publish review articles, interviews, and other non-fiction works. There are numerous reasons why you should start submitting your work to these publications. Apart from being good exposure, building you a readership, and adding to your resume, getting published in a literary magazine is a good way to see the response readers have to your work, and can help you connect with authors, editors, and agents alike.

If you wish to submit your work to a literary magazine, multiple factors need to be considered. Here are three things to consider before you start the submission process.

1) Research: Go online and look for databases that contain lists of literary magazines. These will help you get a feel for the kind of work that is accepted in these magazines. Look at the content, tone, language, and voice used in each, and see if they fit your style of writing. Doing your research will also help you avoid embarrassment; imagine submitting a short story or poem to a science-related peer review literary journal! Not good.

Also, try to find out which medium the publication uses; for example, whether it’s online or print. Find out how many times the magazine is published a year, and how long the magazine has been in circulation. Finding out how many times it is published per year will give you an idea of the number of times you can submit your work in a year, and how long the magazine has been in circulation will give you an idea of the size of the magazine’s readership. Though submitting to magazines with a large readership is preferred, it is probably best to start with smaller publications first.

2) Check submission guidelines: Once you have made a short list of the magazines you would like to write for, check their submission guidelines. Most literary magazines have websites with these details, but they can sometimes also be found in the magazine itself. Some magazines only publish certain genres and some have page or word limits. In most cases, your work will not be given the time of day if it doesn’t meet the submission criteria. Be sure to check the guidelines, otherwise all your work will be for nothing.

3) Cover letter: Once you have found the right literary magazine and you know their submission guidelines, the next step is to write a cover letter. The cover letter must be brief; it’s not a summary of the work you are submitting. It should include a brief motivation of why you are submitting your work, as well as a bio, and should mention of the work you are submitting.

Getting your work published in a literary magazine can be very beneficial for your career. Start writing and refining your work to suit the type of magazine you aim to write for. You will definitely not regret it.


Written by Zimasa Mpemnyama

Image credit: Sean Winters, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Flickr


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