“As an editor, it’s a thrill for me to read a piece of writing that grabs me in the first paragraph, carries me along, and moves me in some way – whether to tears, laughter, or amazement that someone could so clearly express powerful feelings, ideas, and metaphors that I can deeply relate to as a fellow human being.”
Katherine Mayfield, Editor of the Maine Review
As both an editor and a writer who frequently submits to literary journals, Katherine knows that “the process is fraught with anxiety, hope, and an occasional bit of dread. It’s sad that there’s no easier way for editors to discover excellent writing than through an impersonal submission process…” With the goal of making this process easier, Katherine shared some helpful advice in an article called “Tips for Submitting to Literary Magazines,” on the Book Baby blog. Her no-nonsense tips:
1. Scope out the territory: In a nutshell, do your homework. Review one or more issues of the magazine you’re thinking of pitching. You may be able to borrow copies through your local interlibrary loan system, or find previously published issues on its website. My reading group just ordered copies of a recent issue of the well-known journal, Glimmer Train, which we plan to analyze to get a feel for the types of submissions its editors might be receptive to.
2. Don’t hold back: “Go deep,” says Katherine. “Readers love to experience what they’re reading, to relate to it on a visceral or emotional level. Gutsy writing is always appreciated.”
3. Edit carefully: “Reading a piece through without noticing an error is a real joy for editors,” notes Katherine. She suggests having someone else edit your work before submitting: A piece riddled with typos creates a negative impression, no matter how strong the writing.
4. Read the instructions: Editors have created them for a reason and if you’re submitting to them, follow their lead. If you don’t, the editors can easily assume that your writing might not be any better than your ability to read their guidelines.
5. Retain your rights: When submitting, “offer first time rights or nonexclusive rights only – that way, when you’ve written enough short stories, poems, or essays, you can combine them into an anthology and publish it under your name.” Write on!