Friday Speak Out!: How to Get Published in Literary Magazines

Friday, July 29, 2022
by Bethany Jarmul

Do you have a short story, essay, or poem that is ready for publication? Ready to see your name in print (or online) and start building your writing portfolio? Here are a few tips for getting your writing published in literary magazines:

1. Discover and research literary magazines.

Chill Subs is a great place to start. Also, check out: New Pages and Poets & Writers. You’ll want to get a feel for what literary magazines are out there that publish work similar to yours.

2. Read the magazines.

Once you identify a few literary magazines where you’d love to see your work published, read them “cover-to-cover”—read everything they’ve published in your genre for the past few issues. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to read everything in every journal to which you submit. However, you should at least read two or three pieces of any magazine where you’re submitting, to see if your work is a fit.

3. Triple-check the submission guidelines.

Check the formatting and submission guidelines. Edit your work to match. Check the guidelines again. Check one more time. Not following the guidelines is the quickest way to get a rejection.

4. Include a brief, professional cover letter.

Address your cover letter to the section editor or “Dear Editor” if you are unable to locate the person’s name. Include the title of your piece, the word count, and any content warnings. Thank the editors for their time and consideration. You’ll also want to include a short third-person bio.

5. Submit each piece to many publications.

At first, you’ll want to send each piece out to 10-15 places. The benefits of this approach include getting familiar with the submissions process, learning about more journals, increasing your chances of getting published, and decreasing the sting of rejections.

6. Don’t worry about how prestigious the publications are.

Just aim to get published. Try submitting to newer literary magazines that receive fewer submissions. Once you start getting acceptances, that will help to fuel your desire to keep writing and submitting.

7. Learn to embrace rejections.

Rejections are part of the process. Even the best writers still receive rejections regularly. Embracing rejections leads to celebrating acceptances. Keep moving, keep writing, keep sending out the next piece. Don’t give up!

8. Celebrate the small wins!

You finalized a story, essay, or poem and submitted it. Celebrate that. You got a personalized rejection from a literary magazine (meaning an editor liked your work enough to give it close attention). Celebrate. You got an acceptance from a tiny literary journal that no one’s ever heard of—shout it from the rooftops!

9. (BONUS) Participate in the literary community.

There’s a supportive and vibrant writing community on Twitter that you don’t want to miss out on. Plus, you can participate in the literary community by reading and sharing work that you love, buying books, writing reviews of books, going to readings and book launches, cheering on other writers in their writing journeys.

Best of luck with your submissions. I’m cheering for you!

* * *

Bethany Jarmul is a writer, essayist, and editor. Her work has appeared in
The Citron Review, Brevity blog, Gastropoda, Literary Mama, and Sky Island Journal among others. She earned first place in WOW! Women On Writing's Q2 2022 essay contest. She lives near Pittsburgh with her family. She loves chai lattes, nature walks, and memoirs. Connect with her at or on Twitter: @BethanyJarmul.
Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


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