My Best List of Submission Search Engines for Literary Magazines

I’ve just added to this list after attending Gayle Brandeis’ excellent talk on the history and practice of essay writing at the NCW Conference in Fort Collins, Colorado. Search engines are listed in terms of number of markets indexed. With the exception of Duotrope, they are free resources.

The Submission Grinder is a free searchable database and submission tracker. Close to 8000 markets.

Duotrope — the venerable journal search engine. Free trial. Paid subscription is $5 a month or $50 a year. 7000 markets.

New Pages Searchable database of places to publish from well-known literary magazine about literary magazines. 1500 markets.

Poets and Writers. From the well-known and well established magazine about writing. About 1200 markets by my reckoning.

Entropy’s Where to Submit List — a free list of submission opportunities is updated every two or three months from Entropy, an online literary magazine and “place to engage with our writers.” 200 or so current listings.

Yahoo Neo Groups has the CWWROPPS listserve from which you can receive daily emails with new submission opportunities. Recommend you opt for the daily digest. 11 new posts in the last week.

Submittable Check out their Opportunities tab for some places you can submit. To find the Submittable page of the many journals that use this service, however, you have to search on the journal’s name and “submission.” Specific journals’ submission pages are not searchable from within the site. The opportunities list can be long, but many of the most prominent upcoming opportunities are not listed; it tends to the less-well known and to the fee-charging markets.

Every Writer’s Resource has a classified ads section for calls for submissions. 17 entries at this time.

The Review Review. A short list of submissions in their classified ads section. 5 entries at this time.

Submissions Challenge, Month Seven: Acceptance. And a quick reflection on the quality of various submissions.

This month was a better one. I had one short story accepted, and got an assignment to do a pre-book-publication author interview for a literary magazine. I also was able to volunteer to help our writer’s group with an anthology we are creating, which at last put me on the “other” side of the editing side.

That said, I only made twelve new submissions this month. So I failed to meet the challenge of putting twenty new subs out there. I am not going to beat myself up; I will do better in March, especially since this week is my spring break. I have about 37 active submissions on right now and perhaps a half dozen others still out by email.

I wanted to talk for a minute about “quality” of submissions. What I mean by that is two things: how many other people are vying to put their work in a given journal, and how well your work is matched to the journal. I always read at least one story and one poem from journals before I submit, and if I don’t like them or don’t see any similarity between the work published and my own, I don’t submit to them. This means that I have to research probably three to four journals for every one I submit to.

Back when I was freelancing in print magazines for money, I used to rate the submissions from 1/1 to 1/10 or so. That was my perception of the likelihood of acceptance. So a 1/1 submission was a good idea to a journal I already wrote for. I could expect to get the assignment, and if I didn’t, I could ask the editor for something else and would get it. A 1/10 submission was something less likely to be accepted, perhaps to a journal I didn’t know as well, a national journal, etc.

These literary magazine submissions of stories an essays, so far, are about 1/40, I would say. And some of these journals are small; God only knows what your odds are with Agni, or Paris Review. In all honesty, I’m not sure my work is ready for those markets. But I don’t know, so I still submit.

Am I discouraged? No, because I think of this as a learning curve, and I am convinced that the most important part of this submissions challenge is developing new work and developing a submissions routine.

As my work improves, as I believe it will, and my submissions routine becomes more effective, I feel my project will be more efficient. But even if it isn’t, I am primarily, at this point, loyal to the art of writing. That is the benefit of the literary magazine project, and for the artistic freedom this affords, I am grateful.

11 Things you need to understand when submitting to literary magazines

I think this week I passed 100 hours of reading random literary magazines as part of my submissions project, and have now passed the 100 submissions mark as well. These are the pieces of information I think fellow writers may want to know:

1. There are 9000 plus literary magazines on Submittable alone.

2. By my count, about 2 out of 3 literary magazines are on Submittable.

3. A good half or more magazines now charge a submission fee, typically $3.

4. Annual contests are not uncommon, with entry fees from $3 to over $30.  Anything more than $20, that’s a lot. Maybe too much, unless, like some folks in Vegas, you’re feeling lucky.

5. The quality and character of published work varies widely. Literary quality is, as agents always say, subjective, and subject matter and speaker characteristics do count. That means if you share the editor’s political ideals, geographic location, hobby … it helps to get your work a positive reading.

6. When you see a magazine and you think, now these people get it, they are more likely to respond positively to what you send them.  If you get them, they will more likely get you.

7. When you match your work to their editorial focus, the same thing.

8.  Most literary magazine editors are also writers.  Who knows why they have started a magazine.  Probably not so they could publish their own work, come on people.  Don’t be that way.  It’s probably so that there would be a magazine that represented their own artistic and philosophical ideals.

9. They had to do this because it is not easily possible to just find someone else’s magazine that shares your ideals and tag along.  Literary magazines are exclusive.  They don’t let you join the editorial staff easily even if the job doesn’t pay.

10.  Would you fit in?  Refer to Sylvia Plath’s poem, The Applicant. The First two stanzas only.

11. That said, running a literary magazine is a time-consuming, labor-intensive and relatively thankless job which requires dozens of hours of largely volunteer labor monthly, weekly, maybe even daily.  So if editors send form rejections, don’t get back to you for three months, and are likely to respond not at all to pleas for substantive reasons for rejection (no, I am not stupid enough to write an email asking them for this, but I’ve heard stories) you now know why.  Their editorship is their service to the universe, being open to discussions with writers about rejected work is simply not realistic.

12. Persevere and you will find your warm spot in the literary magazine universe.  If you keep writing, I don’t think you can avoid it.  Refer to Charles Johnson on Writing Fiction if you want to see more of what I mean.