Attention: this post is about poetry but all you fiction writers out there might find it useful too 🙂
Today I want to share my experiences about online magazines and how you can start sending your poems out for publication.
So, if you have a couple poems that you’ve run through the revision process multiple times and you are sick to death of looking at it, it might be time to send those poems out to a magazine. Here is a list of steps you can take to make the submission process a little easier.
1. Do your research. There are a few helpful databases out there that collect information on online literary magazines. Take full advantage of them but be warned, sometimes these databases list magazines that are no longer publishing content or magazines that haven’t been updated in years. When you find a magazine you like, check to make sure it’s accepting work and that the last issue wasn’t published in 2010. You will have a better chance of getting your poems published if you submit them to a magazine that has current and consistently updated content.
Here are a few online magazine lists:
2. Read what magazines publish. This is very important because editors want submissions that fit into their publishing ideals. While most of what a publisher is looking for will be explained in the submission guidelines, it’s an extremely good idea to check out what the editors publish so that you can evaluate your own work and determine whether or not your poetry is a good fit for that magazine. Here’s an example: if you write a very Edgar Allan Poe esq poem with lots of death imagery and unrequited love and the magazine you’ve found only publishes poems about food and cooking, the editors will probably reject your work, not because your work is bad but because it doesn’t fit their theme. Does that mean you should delete your death imagery and add a few lines about food? No. Well, only if you really, really want to.
The best thing about online magazines is that there are LOADS of them. If one rejects you or doesn’t fit with your poetry, you can find one that does. It might take a bit of time searching through lists or scouring the internet for that one magazine, but it’s out there and if you stick with the search you will find a good home for your poetry.
3. Read the submission guidelines. Once you’ve found a magazine that you think your poems would be a good fit for, READ THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES. A well put together magazine website will usually have the submission guidelines in an easily accessible place. Look for drop down menus or side buttons that say “guidelines.”
If you’ve spent over half an hour searching a magazine website for their guidelines and you still can’t find them, move on and look for another magazine to send your work to. It’s good to be thorough and take time to find things but you don’t need to devote your entire night to it. As I said in Tip 1, there are loads of other magazines to choose from.
Once you’ve found them the best thing to start with is the reading period; some magazines only accept submissions during a specific time of year, other magazines are very open and will accept submissions year round. If a magazine has a reading period, be sure to send them your poems within that time frame. Editors do not play around and if you send them something when they don’t want to read it, they won’t, and 9 times out of 10 they won’t tell you that they haven’t read your work, they’ll just trash it.
Editors won’t ignore you to be mean; they will ignore you because they have other things to do, like running a magazine. Also, editors could potentially receive hundreds or thousands of poems depending on the magazine’s popularity. They have scheduling rules like reading periods to help them stay organized. Now, be that as it may, you are concerned about you and your poetry, not the editor’s life, so if you don’t want to wait for a reading period to open up then find another magazine, you can always write more poems to send out when the reading period does open up.
But if the magazine you like is currently accepting submissions, jump on that and start getting your work ready to send out. But I must stress this: read through ALL the guidelines. Some editors have rules about format, some editors have rules about line length, some editors have rules about content and themes. The best thing you can do for an editor is follow their rules.
4. So now that you’ve found your magazine, read their guidelines and have formatted/organized your submission, how do you actually send it out? The majority of literary magazines I have seen use a website called Submittable to collect submissions. Submittable is your friend. It is a free site where, once you register and create a free user login, you can upload your poetry and the editors will see it. Other magazines will give out an email address and ask you to email your poems, either in the body of an email or as an attachment.
When you are visiting the Submittable site, there is a button that says “Free Trial.” This button is NOT for you. Submittable is free to writers and artists using it to send their work to editors. Submittable is not free to some editors and other institutions. Do not be put off by the free trial button. If you want to open an account with Submittable, the online magazines that use it will have a “Create Your User Account” form in with their submission guidelines.
If you have any questions about sending your work out to online magazines please leave them in the comments and I will be happy to answer them.
Kathy Boles-Turner’s Part 2 Interview with poet Robert Okaji is now live, go check out here.
You still have time to vote for your favorite Week 1 contest entry. Polls close Thursday, July 16 at 11:45 p.m. EDT. Support your fellow writers here 🙂
Week 2’s contest guidelines are up. Entries are due on Saturday, July 18 at 11:45 p.m. EDT.
Stay tuned for another in depth look at online magazines and publications next Wednesday, July 22.