Tips for submitting to lit mags

RampallianFacebook2012Hi everyone! My name is Rebecca McKeown and I’m a member of RocNaNo. I’m also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Rampallian literary magazine. As EIC, I go through a ton of submissions and I see a lot of people who, quite frankly, are submitting their work the wrong way. I originally posted this over on my blog, but I think it fits right in on this one, too.

Here are my tips on how to submit to literary magazines without annoying the editors:

  1. Read the submission guidelines… twice. This is the biggest problem I see when going through submission emails–people don’t read the guidelines. If a publication states “No simultaneous submissions,” don’t send them a simultaneous submission. They won’t look at it. If they tell you to send work via an attachment in .doc or .docx form, don’t send your work in the body of the email without an attachment. If they ask for a bio, send them one. Read the guidelines. Read them carefully.
  2. Proofread your submission email. You’re trying to sell publications your writing, correct? Then don’t send them a submission riddled with typos and errors. Read it over before you hit send.
  3. Get the editor’s name right. This one goes along with number 2. If you’re addressing the submission email to one of the editors, spell their name correctly. Copy and paste it from the site if that will make things easier, but do not spell their name wrong. Just don’t.
  4. Check the reading period dates before submitting. This goes along with number 1. It baffles me when I receive submissions when the website clearly states–in bold letters–that submissions are closed. Always check the website before submitting. Most publications will list the dates they accept submissions right on their submission guidelines page. If the reading period is closed, don’t send your work. It won’t be read.
  5. Don’t be cheeky. You might think addressing the editor in a cutesy, quirky way will make you seem cool and interesting. It won’t. It will only annoy the editor. Keep your cover letter or email straight to the point.
  6. Don’t constantly check up on your submission. Not all lit mags send out an automated response when they receive your submission. If you don’t hear from them within a couple days, do not email them asking if they got your submission. Most publications list an average response time on their website. If that time frame has passed and you haven’t heard from them, email them about your submission’s status. Otherwise, hang tight. Editors are busy people and most of them have jobs outside of their lit mag duties. Be patient.

That’s it for now. Happy submitting!

About Rebecca McKeown

Rebecca McKeown grew up in a small western New York college town, which has inspired many of her fictional settings. A horror junkie, McKeown creates stories about normal people thrown into very abnormal situations.
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