Why You Should Submit to Literary Magazines

stack-of-magazinesWith all the recent changes in publishing, there’s been increased moaning about how hard it is to score a book deal—especially as a fiction writer without an author platform. We agree; it’s not easy. You need talent, a great book proposal (natch), perseverance, and also the luck to land on the right desk at the right time. But there’s something else that is often overlooked, something that can help your chances of being noticed and signed by an agent or publisher: publication in a literary magazine.

Sure, The New Yorker and Harpers publish short stories, mostly from established writers (though that shouldn’t stop you from trying). But what we’re talking about here are the many well-respected literary mags that pride themselves on showcasing short fiction from all sorts of writers, magazines like Glimmer TrainChicago ReviewPloughsharesZoetropeTinhouse, and Zyzzyva. McSweeney’s Quarterly trumpets the lovely philosophy that they’re “committed to publishing exciting fiction regardless of pedigree.” There are many more to choose from, including a wealth of regional options, from The Seattle Review to the South Dakota Review.

Yes, most literary magazines are small in circulation and have  little (if any) money to pay you. But publication in one ups your literary cred significantly. Remember, these mags are used as scouting grounds for young, hungry agents and editors looking to make their mark. Think about it: You’re new at an agency or publishing house, and you dream of discovering an unknown writer and signing him or her to a book contract before anyone else does. Where’s a good place to look? The pages of these magazines.

So even if you’re knee-deep in your novel, consider whether you have a short story that you can polish to a high shine and start shopping around. If you’re able to get it published, you just might get a call from an agent trying to pitch you, rather than the other way around.

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6 Comments

Filed under Publishing News, Publishing Series, The Business of Books with Jen & Kerry, Uncategorized, Writing/Publishing Tips

6 responses to “Why You Should Submit to Literary Magazines

  1. Pingback: Tuesday Auf-ternoon « These Fractured Symphonies

  2. It has always been my assumption that literary magazines are among the best places to begin, and I appreciate any confirmation of that as fact. I frequently read the lists at Poets & Writers to see what the different magazines and journals are publishing, and then “favorite” the ones which seem the most appropriate for my style of writing. Thanks for the article.

  3. Pingback: A Treasure Trove of Miscellany | Indies Unlimited

  4. I’m impressed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and interesting, and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The problem is something which too few folks are speaking intelligently about. Now i’m very happy I found this during my search for something regarding this.

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