How to Submit Your Work to Literary Magazines : Step Two – Submission Guidelines

submissions series pic

Writing is no easy task. Any writer knows this. Creating from a blank page presents its delights and frustrations, but the reality of writing is far from the romantic idea of being a writer. But, we do it anyway. We have to.

For many writers, sending their work off to a literary magazine is a first step in “becoming.” It takes many drafts, revisions, and edits, but eventually that sensation hits you and you know it is time to present your baby to the publisher. There is just one snag.

The publication you have prepped and readied your manuscript for does not accept pieces over 6,000 words. Your piece is just over 8,000. You have just spent hours, perhaps even days getting your piece just right. You ask yourself one question: “Should I send it anyway?”

Our handy list below will help you navigate the submission guidelines of a publication.

1. Read

According to Duotrope, only twenty-five percent of writers who submit their work to a literary magazine have read the posted submission guidelines. This means that the majority of pieces sent off to literary magazines do not fit the criteria of the publication three out of four times. It also means, that the work you labored over is not getting read. It is a “No!” before a single word of yours has even been looked at.

We do not want that, do we? We want your work to be read, to be enjoyed, and to be published. The best way to increase the visibility of your work is to ensure it is aligned with the right outlet. The first step in ensuring our work is a match for a publication is to read and review the submission guidelines of a publication.

Literary magazines will post their submission guidelines on their website. Limping Devil Press posts its submission guidelines under the Submissions page and also under our Contact page. We do this to provide writers the opportunity to be read. The submission guidelines are more of a writer’s ally than a foe. Use them strategically.

2. Details

The submission guidelines of any publication are pretty innocuous, straight-forward parameters. Their purpose is to inform anyone who is interested in submitting their piece for publication. The types of writing the editor is looking for and the word limit is detailed. These are two crucial parts. If you have written a 10,000 science-fiction piece for a poetry journal, your work will not be read. It may even get thrown out.

If a publication stipulates a word limit, adhere to it. If a genre is specified, take note of it. Pay attention to these outlined details. There are plenty of literary magazines out there, so the odds that you will find a publication that matches your talents are good. Do not feel pressured to submit work to a publication simply because it exists. Place your work in the hands of someone who can appreciate it.

3. Simultaneous Submissions

A simultaneous submission is submitting the same piece to several publications at once. Writers will often find more than one publication suitable for their work. Since the submission process can involve a fair amount of time, writers will send the same piece out to multiple editors. Rather than sit on a piece and wait several months to learn if their piece has been accepted, he or she will cast a wider net by sending their work out to other literary magazines.Check to ensure that the publication you are submitting work to accepts simultaneous submissions.

4. Questions

If something is not clear to you in the submission guidelines, ask. On the publication’s website, look up the appropriate editor and contact them. In your correspondence, be brief, polite, and professional. Editors are often on overdrive, so be patient as you wait for a response.

5. Avoid Rejection

Editors do not like writing rejection letters. In fact, it is often cited as one of the least favorable aspects of the role. An editor dislikes saying “No!” about as much as a writer dislikes hearing it. Reading the submission guidelines and ensuring that your piece fits the criteria will only increase your chances for publication.

Approaching the submission process well informed will increase your chances for publication. Next week, we will revisit this topic to further discuss another step in the submission process: simultaneous submissions. We will outline a few navigational and strategical approaches to submitting a piece to multiple publications. If you have any tips or experiences you would like to share, please feel free to leave a comment or contact us.

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3 thoughts on “How to Submit Your Work to Literary Magazines : Step Two – Submission Guidelines

  1. Pingback: Approaches to Simultaneous Submissions |

  2. Pingback: Submit One, Submit All | The (anti) Procrastination Diaries

  3. Pingback: Cover Letters for Literary Magazines and Journals |

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