>Finding the Right Lit Mag for Your Story

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One of my projects this week is submitting my short story, “Stained,” to various lit mags. I’m beginning to think every topic and genre is covered by one or more journals. And it’s amazing how many fledgling publications keep popping up! This is a good thing because every one’s taste is different. But it can also be an overwhelming thing when you’re ready to submit. As a writer, how can you filter through the options?

Look at searching for literary magazines like shopping. If you go to the market with no list and no idea of what you want or need, you may either leave the store with lots of unnecessary items or leave empty-handed because there were too many items to choose from. On the other hand, a list or some kind of plan will get you in and out of the store with items that you can turn into meals and snacks.

With that in mind, your list or plan is what piece you want to submit. When you head into an online or printed directory of lit mags, you’ll have a direction and you can scan the markets to find one that sounds appropriate. Bookmark publications that look interesting but aren’t right for the current story. That way, you can stay on track and use what time you have to find markets for the piece in question.

Once you have a mission, it’s a lot easier to filter out what you don’t need. For instance, start by searching for markets that publish the genre or theme of your piece. My short story is straight-up literary so I can skip over sci-fi magazines or publications that want experimental or edgy literature. Duotrope’s Digest, a database of literary magazines, includes a search function with specific categories to hasten the process.

Check that the magazines you’ve come across are active and accepting submissions. Some close to submissions when they’re overloaded. The final elimination round is to read the magazines before you submit. It sounds obvious, but with every editor begging people to do so, I figure many must overlook this step. I know I used to. But it’s the only way to know if the magazine is right for your story.

Once you’ve done that, it’s time to submit! Remember to follow submission guidelines for each publication to the letter. Every magazine is different, which is a pain, but it’s necessary so they will actually read your work. A little forethought and prep work can go a long way to finding a publication that loves your piece.

How do you deal with the submission process in general? Do you have a system for getting everything ready to go?

Photo by bravenewtraveler

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