How do I know which publishers or magazines to submit my work to? Should I submit to them all?

I wouldn’t suggest submitting your work to all the publishers and magazines. Not only is it likely impossible, it wouldn’t be a good use of your time and resources. When it comes to deciding where to submit your work, it pays to do your research.

If you’re like me, chances are you’re unable to buy all the literary magazines and books you want to read. However, you can learn quite a bit from scouring publishers’ websites. Take a look at their mission statements, their about pages, their author lists, but most importantly, read as much of their published work as you can and consider whether your work aligns with their aesthetic.

It’s possible that you’ve never considered fitting your writing into a particular category, but the more research you do and the more you identify with other writers, you’ll come to understand where you fit in the literary landscape. This is one of the most effective ways to narrow down your submissions.

Organizing your research in a document or spreadsheet can be helpful, too. There is a great deal of information to consider, and if you’re doing a huge amount of research, it will be difficult to keep all the details straight. It helps to record whether there’s a submission fee, whether you need to include return postage, the type/genre of the publication, whether it’s a print publication or online or both, whether it pays royalties to its authors, and so on. As you learn what’s important to you, you’ll slowly tailor your submission list to reflect your identity as a writer.

There may be publications you admire with authors whose creative bios seem about a mile longer than yours. Don’t be discouraged. Try to step back from yourself and observe your reaction from a distance. There’s a difference between being humbled and being intimidated into inaction. On the one hand, you may want to save your printing and postage costs if you don’t think your work is up to snuff, but on the other hand, what do you have to lose other than printing and postage costs? You may decide it’s worth it to include a few “long-shot” publications in your submission list. You don’t want to overextend yourself, but you also don’t want to sell yourself short. As with everything, find the balance that feels right to you.

Originally published with The Loft Literary Center.

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