Have you ever written a story or poem that is just so amazeballs you’re like, “Dayumn, someone should really publish this”? Well, you’re probably right, someone should publish your work, because writer, your voice has value. So today I want to discuss how you can submit your work for publication. Also, let it be known, that this post is more geared towards creative writing, but there are good tips for all.
In high school, I was the one kid out of thirty who actually enjoyed, no, lived for English class. My teacher wasn’t exactly, ideal, but that’s another story for another day. One day, while sitting in the only desk in the entire school I felt comfortable in (the chemistry desks smelled like chemicals and the math desks always had that strange odor of a jock who had snoozed off while calculating the amount of air it would take to make his truck go thirty miles per hour with winds at blah blah blah).
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, my English desk. While I was sitting there one day I came across something called TeenInk.com. And that is what became my first experience with publishing. It was more sharing than publishing really, but with each story submission there was a chance for magazine publication. Then a few years later, I graduated to sites like Inkpop.com, Figment.com, and Wattpad.com. Pretty sure you actually still find some of my writings. Sadly, Inkpop is no longer. Again, basically these sites were just self-publishing to a writing forum of sorts. Kind of like Facebook for writing, but it taught me a lot about networking. And it taught me how to “market” or “sell” my stories.
What I really want to share with y’all is something I learned how to use in college. The Poets and Writers Database, or pw.org. Cue dramatic lights and someone singing “aaaaaaaa!”
There are many links on this website, all of which are very useful in writing. But the one I want to focus on is the Literary Magazine Database tab. This is an amazing tool for everyone who wants to submit their work for publication. *DISCLAIMER* Not all of your work will be accepted. And this is not because your writing is terrible or because you don’t have enough experience, because writer, you could paper your walls with rejections before that one acceptance. And it makes that acceptance all the more of a “HECK YAS” moment. So remember that the value of your voice is not based on any quote on quote success.
Okay, first thing first, what are you looking to publish? Fiction? Poetry? Non-fiction? Filter your search by the genre. Next, do you care what style of print your work is published in? Hard-copy print magazine? Digital journal? Online? All of the above? Narrow your search. And finally, how do you want to be paid? No payment? Free copy? All the dollas $$$$? My advice, after doing this for almost four years, is go for the free copy. I honestly, still haven’t been paid in solid cash. But that’s okay, because I am able to set my magazine copies on the coffee table and sing, “ta-daaaa,” very off key while doing jazz hands.
Once you have narrowed down your search, it’s time to start submitting. Pick and choose maybe five (make sure they are all okay with simultaneous submissions) and submit. Some magazines use Submittable, so it’s easy to create an account and keep track, but others have you submit via email, so I suggest keeping another log of what you’ve submitted, where you have submitted too and when. I also have kept Excel spreadsheets, and a hard copy in a notebook.
Now, as you begin this process, read each magazine’s submission instructions very carefully. Not all magazines are created equal. Some want cover letters with basically everything except your Social Security Number. Others just want to know what you had for breakfast. Make sure you format everything correctly, and then with as much confidence as you can muster, SUBMIT.
You did it! Now you may go eat all the ice cream and binge watch whatever it is you binge watch. (For myself it’s Bluebell Ice Cream and Doctor Who).
Remember, it might take a few months before you hear back. Three to four months is pretty normal. And also, a rejection does not mean your voice has no value. It just takes time. I’m pretty sure even J.K. Rowling has been rejected upon occasion.
If you have questions, feel free to contact us!!
Picture by @maerainphoto