Getting Published in Literary Magazines and Journals
One of the best ways to get published early in your writing career is to submit your work to literary magazines and journals.
There are publications for every form, genre, and style of writing, and most of these publications have fairly simple submission processes that you can complete online. Some are explicitly looking for young or new writers.
If you’re fiction writer, poet, or essayist, then these publications could be a great way for you start your career as a published author.
The Benefits of Getting Published in Literary Magazines and Journals
If you hope to build a career as a published author, starting with literary magazines and journals is a good way to prepare yourself for publishing books in the future. Even if you intend to eventually self-publish your work, something I suspect more and more writers are considering these days, starting with literary journals has some benefits.
- When you submit your work, you need to follow the publications’ guidelines, many of which force to polish your work and properly format your documents.
- Many publications require that you write a brief letter of introduction, similar to a cover letter, which builds your professionalism as a writer.
- You’ll probably have to include a personal bio, something all published authors need if they expect to establish a viable career.
- Your publication credits (also called clips) can boost your reputation and credibility among other writers, the publishing industry, and readers.
- All of these magazines and journals have readers, something you’ll need as a writer. By getting published in their pages, you are exposing your work to a broader readership. Some of these readers may become the first fans of your work.
- Through the process of submitting, you’ll (hopefully) read these magazines and journals. You’ll discover other writers. You may even develop relationships with your fellow writers or with the publications’ editors. In other words, it can be a networking opportunity.
- When your work gets rejected and you keep trying, it can strengthen your resolve and thicken your skin. The submission and rejection process is a test of your fortitude!
- When your work gets accepted and published, you’ll enjoy a sense of validation and acceptance.
- If you intend on building a career through traditional publishing, these publishing credits can help you land an agent or get your work read by editors at publishing houses.
How to Get Started
The first step is to find literary magazines and journals and familiarize yourself with them. You won’t find these publications in the checkout line at your local grocery store. You can find them in bookstores and of course, online. Here’s a comprehensive list with short descriptions and links to tons of publications.
Look for publications that accept work in your preferred form (poetry, fiction, nonfiction). Make sure that any publications you decide to target are a match to your genre. You wouldn’t want to send a science fiction story to a romance zine. Furthermore, you’ll want to read the publications for style and submit to the ones that are a good match to your style of writing. For example, some poetry journals prefer abstract while others prefer concrete. Do not randomly pick publications off a list and submit your work. You need to read through the publication, thoroughly. Chances are, if you are personally compelled by the work in the publication, it’s a good match for you.
If you do nothing else, read the submission guidelines carefully. This can’t be emphasized enough: make sure you review the guidelines carefully and follow the requirements to the letter. Failing to do so could mean a rejection that isn’t even based on the quality or substance of your writing!
Are You Ready to Get Published?
Getting your work published is not easy, but it’s well worth the effort. We’re writers, so we’d rather be writing. But the reality is that if we want our writing to be more than a hobby — if we want it to be a career, we have to learn to wear many hats, like marketing ourselves. Going through the submission process might feel like it’s taking us away from our writing, but it’s actually an integral step toward success.
If you’re ready to get serious about your writing, then check out these tips for submitting your writing, and then start looking for publications that are a good match for your poems, stories, and essays.
Have you ever submitted your work to a literary magazine or journal? Have you received a lot of rejections? Did you get published? Share your experiences by leaving a comment.