Yes, we should all aspire to be writing, writing, writing, but sometimes in a rare moment, a piece is complete. Whether it has been polished to gleaning perfection, or you’re making the same cuts and uncuts, changing the color of the sunset/cat/noun from tangerine to cantaloupe back to tangerine, sometimes you gotta just be the mama bird and push your precious darling out of the nest. That’s when it’s time to submit.
I’m discovering that I love submitting. I’m discovering new journals that are full of inspiring artists. Plus I love seeing my submittable submission list get longer and longer. It feels like I’m kicking those tiny little DECLINED boxes’ asses with all the new PENDING, IN PROGRESS, and ACCEPTED(!) boxes I’m adding. And some journals even pay you. Ka-ching.
My advice as a former fiction editor and everyday freelancer is to submit to at least five different journals at a time, as often as you can. When you get one rejection, it can give you a false feeling of how your piece reads. Rejected by two or three, you can get stuck in the I suck spiral, and throw in the towel. Which is the exact opposite of what you should be doing. Keep submitting. I often submit the same piece to up to a dozen places at a time (most journals are fine with simultaneous submissions, so long as you give them a heads up in your cover letter.) Finding a journal for your work is so often about whether the fit is just right. That’s it. Your job is to submit. The editor’s job is to see if it’s a good fit (though you should at least be somewhat familiar with the journal. Are they formal, experimental, etc.).
As far as the cover letter, I often find three sentences is plenty cool. It’s just obnoxious when you write anymore than that unless they specifically ask for it. Editors have hundreds of submissions to read ALL OF THE TIME. Say hello, mention what you’re submitting, thank them for their loveliness and support of the literary arts in your own words, and attach a bio if they ask for one (where you studied, where you’re published, if you really love your cat.)
Being January, plenty of journals are beginning to read for their Spring issues. Below are seven I’ve submitted to or really enjoyed perusing that you should totally submit to. Like now, girl. Good luck!
Guernica is a magazine of global art and politics. With contributors from every continent and at every stage of their careers, it’s a home for singular voices, incisive ideas, and critical questions. Submit poetry and fiction aqui.
Paper Darts Website is super simple yet colorful and funky. They keep it super fresh and simple: click on lit to read some new rad lit, click on art to look at some dope new art. Submit your own right here.
With an emphasis on work that moves the reader, Rattle is accessible, lovely, and intriguing. They publish big names like Dunn and Levine and emerging authors alike. Submit your prose, poetry, and art here.
Hobart does print and web in such a stylish way that my eyes just feel good looking at it. Poetry, fiction, and non-fiction welcome. Submit here.
Fourteen Hills can be fairly experimental, so this is a great place to submit if you’ve got something beautiful and bizarre. You can submit poetry, prose, and experimental work twice a year, and right now you can enter their Stacy Doris Memorial Poetry Contest for free. Winner gets $500, and all other poetry is considered for publication in their Spring issue. Pretty cool. Check it out.
Concīs is an online and e-pub journal centered on brevity: “the succinct, pithy, condensed, laconic, crisp, compressed and compendious.” Submit poems, prose poems, flash fictions, micro-essays, reviews in miniature, sudden fictions, haiku, tanka, American Sentences, insights, and epigrams. What I really like is that the author can choose to donate their payment to charity and Concīs will match it.
A Public Space is an independent magazine of literature and culture founded in 2006 by Brigid Hughes, former Executive Editor of The Paris Review. It is gorgeous and adored by big names in the writing world. They’ve published authors from all over the world, and submissions are free. Submit poetry, fiction and nonfiction here.
Good luck my fellow writers! I look forward to reading your work in print and online 🙂