A Hot Date with Some Lit Mag Submissions


I didn’t have a whole lot to do on Saturday (surprise), and I got a big rejection this week (Modern Love), so I decided to spend the evening sending that same piece out to the world. I am the submission Hydra. Send me one rejection, I send two submissions back.

I prefer to do submissions sometime when I’m absolutely not supposed to be “working.”

Because is this work? Or is this more like dating?

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I’m not getting paid.

Or if I am, it’s something like $40 for an essay. The essays I tend to submit to literary magazines are those I’ve probably worked on for at least 10 hours, often more. 

In fact, nowadays you often have to pay something like $3 to submit. I don’t mind it too much. I understand it keeps people from shotgun spraying submissions into the lit mag bush. 

I spent $14 submitting that night.

I’m looking for the right one

This story I’m trying to match is a weird one. It’s called Love Me, and it’s a funny essay about going to a cat cafe in South Korea with the highest hopes, and not exactly leaving with them. So it’s creative non-fiction (CNF), but it’s not deep or political. It’s travel, but everything goes wrong and it’s not a service piece at all.

According to my Submission Tracker, I had it out to 13 places already, to travel magazines, to quirkier literary magazines, and even This American Life. I had gotten a super nice rejection from Hidden Compass, (which I learned about in a conversation with Kim Brown Seely) so I felt good about it. Plus I’d workshopped it twice, and it brought me joy. Why not shoot high?

I started at Poets & Writers’ list of Literary Magazines, and filtered for CNF and humor. I also clearly needed ones that accepted simultaneous submissions, which means you’re pitching it to more than one magazine. I am a huge believer in simultaneous submissions, because writers cannot afford to wait half a year to find out if they’re getting their $40. But we need to be good citizens and withdraw our pieces when they get accepted elsewhere. End rant.

I met a lot of nice new people

I added Carve, Hunger Mountain, Eckleburg Review, and Longleaf Review to my list of publications, and I added five new editors to my Mission Control Center Contacts List, followed them on the socials as well, where they might post about calls to submit later.

Many of the lit mags don’t have their submissions open right now. Fall and spring are the most common times, as they follow school calendars with so many grad students acting as editors.

The Atticus Review was looking for flash nonfiction, (flash being a term for short), but I did learn they have a Flash CNF Contest coming up this summer, so I set a reminder on my calendar in June to start preparing a quick piece.

I had a lovely evening

Submitting is a celebration. You have — my god — a finished piece! And you’re starting the process of sharing it with the world. And you feel good enough about it that you are spending this time betting that it’s good enough to make it into a literary magazine.

These nights are not business. They are love.

It’s a small pool out there

My new coaching client, Lauren Sarazen, told me a story this week that reminded me about how we all get published. She had seen my About Me page on my website, which lists not only my Authors Bio, but also my Failures, Humiliations, and Rejections, as I feel is only fair.

She said she looked up every publication I listed in my rejections. She submitted to Hobart and placed a piece! I need to update this list, because so have I at this point.)

This is Lauren. She lives in Paris. It’s ok to be jealous.
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Submitting is a lifestyle…

Unlike dating to find that ultimate one, the thing about submitting is that you’re always going to have to be doing it. So pair it with a glass of wine or coffee with some buddies.

If you’re trying to actually finishing pieces to submit, consider signing up for coaching!

My 10-week program, Your Personal Editor, will have you finishing 10,000 words worth of work. You’ll get written notes from me each week and a 30-minute weekly meeting to discuss your pieces.

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