Quarterly Column Archive
Get Published in Literary Journals
Getting published in literary journals is not easy. But you can increase the odds by submitting your work to journals that are open to your style. How do you find such journals? By reading contributors notes in literary journals and copyright pages in collections.
Read the contributors notes
When you read a story, poem, or essay that is similar in style to your work, flip to the contributors page. It is usually in the back of the journal. Authors list where they've published before—a goldmine of information.
If a journal has a very specific style, then it's worth reading all of the contributors notes. For example, 3rd bed publishes "work informed by a surreal or absurdist aesthetic." Why not check out where all these writers are publishing? Chances are some of them have placed this style of work elsewhere.
Read the copyright page
When you read a collection of stories, poems, or essays by a writer whose style is similar to your own, flip to the copyright page. It's on the back of the title page.
If any of the individual pieces were first published in literary journals, you'll find out where here. First and second books are especially good to mine for this information. Writers who are firmly established tend to be solicited. It's more helpful to see where they published when they were still emerging. But this is not a hard and fast rule. Journals that solicit work are often open to new and emerging writers too.
Read the submission guidelines
Once you've found some promising journals, go to the web. Most literary journals have a website. Read the submission guidelines and some of the sample work. If the journal still looks like a good fit, submit.
And to further increase your odds, follow the submission guidelines to a T.
Some dos and don'ts for snail-mail submissions
Most journals still require you to mail your submission the old-fashioned way. The exception to this rule is online journals.
Some dos and don'ts for email submissions
Very few print journals accept email submissions even if they have a website. Make sure you read those submission guidelines. But online journals do accept email submissions. Most of them prefer email submissions. Some will only accept email submissions.
The Q2 2005 column will be about getting the most of your MFA.