Never send your work directly to a publisher. Virtually no publisher will read an unsolicited manuscript. It is not personal. They want to avoid liability issues. Pretty much the only way to get your work read by a publisher is through an agent. I know, I can hear your cries of frustration. “But how can I get published if I do not have an agent?!”
Here is what you can do: You can send your work to magazines and literary journals, like our own Writers Tribe Review.
As you browse through the list of magazines, consider first what your piece has to offer. Most of the time, but not always, literary magazines are looking for specific pieces to publish. In Amoskeag’s Spring 2010 issue, the editors were gearing to compile a collection of fiction and poetry that primarily spoke to the theme of human recollection. Now obviously, if your narrative is about “farming,” then it’s likely that your piece will not be considered for publication.
Rule # 1: Make sure to seek literary magazines that cater to your writing interests.
So now that you’ve secured a handful of journals that you think suit you and your writing, it’s time to review some of the basic guidelines.
Not all literary journals are keen on the idea of simultaneous submissions. This means: the piece you are submitting should be unique from prior submissions you have sent to other literary journals. However, some literary magazines do, in fact, allow this. But be cautious. You don’t want to submit the same piece twice to a literary journal that has stated very clearly that they want a piece for their own.
Rule # 2: Be wary of simultaneous submission standards.
Furthermore, be sure to meet the word count requirement. Do not submit a piece you know is way over the limit. Standard literary magazine submissions are about 2,500 words (6-10 pages.) Keep it short. There is a lot of reading one committee has to do in a given period, and you want to make sure that your words are not only under the limit, but are also captivating.
When I worked on a literary magazine committee, if the narrative didn’t catch my attention within the first page, I rarely moved forward with it and handed it off to another editor. Not everyone is going to be patient and wait for a piece to “get good.”
Rule # 3: Watch how your words count; it is not about the quantity, but the quality of your prose.
Some literary magazines keep it old school and prefer that manuscripts be sent by post. Often times, along with your cover letter and manuscript, you will be asked to also mail a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope). This, my friends, is what literary magazines will use to send your rejection letters. Kidding. Though, it’s happened.
Because we’re all so digitally inclined, a lot of reviews will accept submission via email. However, I advise that you consider the pros and cons of digital post. Everyone’s word processor will read a document differently. If your narrative has a specific structure and you want to preserve its format, as it is imperative to the overall function of your piece, send it by horse and carriage.
Rule # 4: Unless you can send a PDF file, keep it old school and put your manuscript in the mail.
Lastly, be sure to note the reading period of each literary magazine. Some magazines are biannual, while others are annual. In either case, there’s a period where they absolutely do NOT accept any writing. Just because their email site, or their mailbox allows you to stuff it with your work, it will not be read. My advice is to be the early bird. Catch the worm and submit your work as early as you can (when called for). This means you have to be very attentive to dates.
Rule # 5: Mark your calendar, or have Siri remind you about a magazine’s reading period.
After you’ve submitted, be patent. It could take as little as 2 weeks to receive a response from the editors, or 6 months. This should not prevent you from creating. While you are waiting, keep writing – keep writing and search for journals that cater to your interests. Browse through your local bookstore for reviews and get to know their content. Become familiar with who they publish. It’s important to research and be privy to this basic knowledge as it could help you increase your chances of becoming published in the future. Who knows! Perhaps you can submit The Paris Review, after all.
Rule # 6: Don’t stalk your mailman or stare at your computer screen during the response period. Write. Research. Submit.
For an extensive list of literary magazines, please visit: www.newpages.com