I read this article over at From Sarah, With Joy which asks six questions on submitting to literary magazines.  The questions were:

  • How do you keep track of what you've submitted where and when?
  • How do you find new magazines to submit to?
  • How do you tell which magazines tend towards your type of work? [something more efficient though perhaps less effective than the obvious answer of reading the magazine.]
  • What do you put in the cover letter when they ask you to write a cover letter.
  • How do you know when a piece is ready to submit?
  • How do you know when to give up on a piece, and what do you do with it then?

These are all questions I have been struggling with myself as of late, and while I don't have all the answers, here's what I have come up with:
  1. Keeping track. I keep track of what I've submitted via email. Why? It's just evolved that way. Gmail uses color coded stars that I have assigned a meaning to (blue for submitted, red for rejected, green for accepted, etc.) I email most submissions but the ones that use an online form still send me a confirmation email which I then assign a color.
  2. Finding publications. I find places to submit the same ways Sarah mentioned in her post. Duotroupe.com is probably my main one. Sometimes I run across others mentioned via Twitter, Facebook, or blogs, and I bookmark them in a folder in my browser.
  3. Which magazines get my submission? I usually read the publications description and submission guidelines, then go with my gut. Admittedly, it's not very efficient.
  4. Cover Letter. My cover letter usually includes (not necessarily in this order):
    • My author bio
    • Anything they've specifically asked for (word count, page number, etc)
    • The website, blog, etc where I heard about them
    • The title of the story I'm submitting
    • Most important– A thanks for reviewing my work
  5. Done? I never get to the point where I think a story is ready for submission, but there is a "good enough". It occurs 3 to 5 rewrites after several people critique it. Many times I just get impatient and start submitting to places while I'm still editing it (just being honest).
  6. Giving up. I've never actually given up on a piece (maybe I'm still too new at this). I have set stories aside for future use.  If I run across a place I think may like it, I try to resubmit it again (after revising it again too). However, I know writers who have used Smashwords.com for works that weren't publishable. Offer the story for free and see what reviews come your way.  Maybe you'll learn what worked and didn't work about the piece for future reference.

What other suggestions/answers can you come up with?


  1. Great questions!
    We can't help you keep track of your work, but we CAN show you which magazines publish what. We review journals, interview editors, and even offer dozens of publishing tips!


    The Review Review

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