Publications 101

You have a polished piece of writing. You have your bio ready to go. You want to submit your work, but to where??

Here’s the great thing: you have so many options. The internet is overflowing with literary magazines, ranging from century-old publications to some just a few hours old. How do you find them? Look for lists!

One of the most complete lists of publications on the internet today is Submishmash. Designed by the owners of Submittable, Submishmash compiles all of the open submission calls on its mother site and puts them on one comprehensive page. You can sort by genre (poetry, fiction, nonfiction, or visual art) and then view opportunities by deadline or in random order. This is a great way to discover new literary magazines for emerging and inexperienced writers alike.

Another list — my personal favorite — is the Calls for Submissions (Poetry, Fiction, Art) Facebook group. While Submishmash only covers publications registered on Submittable, this group is open to anyone and everyone regardless of their submission protocol. Magazines and contests post in the group whenever they open for submissions, usually providing a link to their website as well as any other relevant information. It’s easy to access and membership is free, unlike Duotrope and other similar websites. This database is especially useful as it exposes you to publications from different parts of the country and the world. Even if you don’t submit to them, you have the opportunity to read literature that you wouldn’t have encountered otherwise.

At some point, the sheer number of publications available to you might become overwhelming. Luckily, they’re not all the same! Due to differences in genre, missions, staff diversity, and reader base, each literary magazine has its own personality. If you write food-based humor, there is a magazine for you. (Seriously, I thought about submitting to it.) There’s one for sci-fi, one for experimental romance, one for translations of century-old plays, one for fictional obituaries, one for poems written from the perspectives of various inanimate objects… you get the idea. If you write it, you can submit it somewhere. So do your research! Before committing to a magazine, read past issues to see if your work would fit in. Some magazines also cater specifically to marginalized writers, so if you see yourself in that category, track those magazines down. Find the space that you are most comfortable sharing in.

Speaking of committing: don’t. Or don’t feel like you have to. While it’s fine to have a favorite magazine, there’s no reason not to submit to more than one. Most publications will let you know their stance on “simultaneous submissions,” or writing that you’ve sent to multiple place at a time. It’s generally fine — just make sure you keep everyone updated if your work is accepted somewhere.

In the end, selecting a publication is a matter of personal taste. While I lean towards magazines with experimental tendencies and just a few issues under their belts, others may choose well-established genre journals. Either one, or anything else, is fine! Your preference is your own. Sharing your writing can be terrifying, but if you find the right community and setting for it, sharing can be a magical thing.

If you missed the last post about submission basics, check it out here. Now get submitting — and good luck!

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