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The Curious Cat Blog is all about writing, for writers, by a writer.


Free Download: Organize Your Literary Magazine Submissions

Carina Sitkus

Last weekend I went to the first ever Hippocamp creative nonfiction writers conference launched by Hippocampus magazine. Lee Gutkind and Jane Friedman were awesome keynotes, and the sessions covered everything from the craft of writing to getting an agent and everything in between. To top it off, the conference had an intimate feel, so I was able to get to know the other attendees and speakers. The highlight was being able to perform a reading from my book--I was terrified, but my colleague thankfully (and gently) nudged me to do it, plus my boyfriend was there to support. Overall an awesome experience-- if you’re looking for tips to prepare for your own upcoming conference, check out this great advice from Allison Williams via Brevity.

And with that, I couldn’t ask for a better segue.

Allison led a super helpful workshop with tips on how to submit to literary journals. I wanted to share a few of them here, plus give you a tool you can use to organize your submissions.

The takeaways:

  • Figure out what matters to you. Which of the “Three Ps” do you care about? Publication, Payment, or Prestige? Not all magazines pay, but that doesn’t matter if your goal is simply to get published.

  • Study the work of other writers who have been published in the places where you’d like to publish. You probably won’t get published in The Sun on the first go-around, but you can do your research and figure out what’s realistic for your current skill level.

  • Connect with other writers in your local area and figure out what local magazines are accepting work. This also helps you become a productive member of the literary community.

  • Make your cover letter short.

  • If you’re going to pay to submit, make sure the fee isn’t more than 5-10% of the prize that’s awarded. Oh, and by the way, your submission fees are tax deductible, so print a receipt.

  • Organize your submissions. Once you figure out what’s important to you, you can research which journals pay, which ones publish online or in print, when their deadlines are, and any other criteria that’s personally important to you. Allison said she’s a fan of making simultaneous submissions-- don’t be afraid to send your pieces to multiple places, as long as you’re sure they’re a good fit. It’s also always a good idea to research how long the journal holds the rights to your piece.

I pulled together a free resource you can use to organize some of this information.

Feel free to make a copy so you can make your own edits to the columns and cells. If you have trouble accessing the Google version, email me. I filled in as much information as I could for the unpersonalized parts, like submission deadlines and whether or not the journal pays. My only ask is that you pay the favor forward and send this blog to a friend!

Feel free to comment with your own tips! As always, stay curious. I’m headed to the beach.

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