It takes a lot of time to find literary journals to submit to. Even when you find one, you have to hope their submission period is open. Even then it’s as if you need a Rosetta Stone for writers to decipher the unique submission guidelines of each market. One place I submitted to recently required writers to add a specific line of text to the first page of their submission, otherwise the entire submission would be rejected. Is this the equivalent of a speakeasy passphrase?
Another market had long submission guidelines, which I finally wrapped my head around only to learn at the very bottom of their rules that you need to be a subscriber for them to consider your work. (That rule would be better placed at the beginning of the guidelines!) When I find a literary journal with reasonable guidelines, and stories and poetry that connect with me, it stands out. But it takes searching.
Browsing book stores and libraries for literary journals and magazines is fun (nerd alert!), but difficult during COVID times. (Our town’s library STILL hasn’t opened since they shut down almost a year ago.) But my most-preferred way of finding literary journals is from one literary journal.
Pick up a journal you have nearby, or search online for a digital edition, and flip to the contributors section. Then start reading about each of the writers. The bios should list their writing credits. I use this information to make a list. If there were particular submissions in the journal that feel similar to my own writing style, I check those writers’ bios first. Then I take out my Google chisel and start chipping away, searching for each journal. Are they still around? Many journals fold. Are they open to submissions? Do they have a submission fee? Are their guidelines reasonable?
I’ve found this to be the most focused and effective way for me to discover and screen markets where I can send my creative writing. What’s your favorite way?
In the spirit of Write Naked’s 10-year anniversary, here’s a video where I talk about my submission process and a personal rule to keep the submission pipeline active. Plus, a few popular posts about submitting your creative work:
Time management for writers: How I’ve blocked time for writing contests
Multiple submissions: What if your work is accepted by more than one journal?