Advice on Submitting to a Literary Journal

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.
~Mark Strand, “Eating Poetry,” Reasons for Moving, 1968

I’m sure I have used this quote before, but it’s one that is really meaningful to me this week. I haven’t been posting because I’m working hard on choosing work for our school literary journal and trying to finish my 4th packet of work which is due on Monday. Although I can’t give the students who have submitted work to the journal any advice, (they will just be accepted or not) I thought I could post some here as a reminder when sending in work to a literary journal.

1. Write a professional cover letter.

2. Don’t use obscure language when a simple word would do.

3. Don’t only check for spelling errors but check for word errors, if you can’t find any ask a friend or family member to read your work line by line. Sometimes you can’t see errors in your own work.

4. Read your work aloud before submitting, if you are stumbling over the words so will the editor who is reading it.

5. Don’t send in first drafts, even if you think your first draft is brilliant. Very few first drafts are brilliant. Work on revision and edit your work.

6. Know your form. If the journal is looking for sestina’s don’t send in a haiku or a personal essay because it’s kind of like a sestina.

7. If you don’t get accepted, try another literary journal but study the market. A personal essay about being abducted by aliens will probably not get accepted in a journal that says “please no more abduction stories.”

I also wrote an article on Sunday when I was procrastinating doing my “real work”

Hot Spiced Apple Cider
I guess if writing is my procrastination for writing that’s not too bad.

Today, write one writing related goal for 2009 that relates to submitting work. Now get back to work!


The Writing Nag

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