Tag Archives: literary journals

Five Benefits To Starting A Literary Magazine

hands-people-woman-girl

It’s been a while! I apologize for the lack of posts, but I’ve been extremely busy with other projects since last November. Quick update: I’ve been commissioned to write a screenplay for Supersonic Productions and a nonfiction book for a New York City-based nonprofit. In combination with my duties as co-founder and publisher of Beautiful Losers Magazine, free time has been at a minimum. Still, no excuses, right? On with the show!

Right here on WordPress, when I was scrolling through my feed, I found an incredibly talented writer named Dario Cannizzaro  We became friends, and he introduced me to his friend Austin Wiggins. They told me about their plan to start a literary magazine and I was intrigued. I had started a couple of literary magazines in the past, but they had fizzled out for various reasons. Now, with a couple of high-character partners, we set out to start a literary magazine. The rest is history.

Has running a literary magazine been easy? Not always! But it has definitely been worth it, and for many writers, choosing to start a literary magazine can be an incredibly valuable experience. Here are a few reasons that I’ve found as to how starting a literary magazine can be beneficial for writers. If you know of any that I’ve missed, make sure to leave them in the comments below. Hope this helps!

  1. Networking. If you’re not Cormac McCarthy or Junot Diaz, you probably could benefit from gaining some new contacts to help advance your writing career. Running a literary magazine affords you the opportunity to network with talented writers. If you accept an author’s work, or even if you send them a personal rejection, you can start a conversation that can lead to some incredible contacts with ties to editors, publishers, and literary agents. Personally, I’ve become good friends with someone who’s collaborated with elite-level Hollywood directors. Pretty good for a budding screenwriter, right?
  2. Immersion. I understand that you might have to hold down that 9-5 until your literary dreams come true, but what are you doing on your time off? Starting a literary magazine gives you the opportunity to completely immerse yourself in the culture of writers. You’re responsible for reading countless submissions, so that means putting Netflix aside, logging off Facebook, and learning from your contemporaries.
  3. Credibility. If you’re submitting short stories or poetry to literary magazines, or manuscripts to literary agents, running a competitive literary journal shows that you have some skin in the literary game. If a journal or agent is on the fence about your work, this could be what tips someone in your favor.
  4. Friendship. Whether you choose to go solo or partner with others on your litmag, your dedication will likely attract the attention of other like-minded people, and many of the most valuable friendships of your life may develop.
  5. Discipline. Starting a literary magazine is a form of leadership. Your readers are dependent on you putting out excellent content. Your writers are dependent on you screening submissions in a timely fashion. As a writer, discipline is critical, even more so than talent. Working day in and day out on your magazine can instill the necessary work ethic needed for success in the literary game.

Have any questions about starting a literary magazine? Comment below and I’ll do my best to share my thoughts! If you found this post helpful, please like, comment, repost, or subscribe to my blog – all are appreciated! 

 

A Guide To Publishing Etiquette

Maybe I have some sort of undiagnosed personality disorder, but one of my biggest pet peeves is writers who don’t follow the submissions guidelines for Beautiful / Losers Magazine. When a writer sends us an email with their poems or stories attached as a Word document, I become visibly filled with rage. My blood pressure shoots up. My smile turns upside down. And then I delete it, but not after having soaked in my righteous anger for a bit. If you don’t believe me, just ask my fiancée.

portrait-angry

The last thing any writer hoping to get their submission accepted for publication wants is for an editor’s face to look like the one of the man above. Chances are, if an editor has that face before even reading your submission, it’s toast.

So, how do you avoid making editors displeased? It’s simple: etiquette!

  • Always read the submissions guidelines and follow them to a T.
  • Find out to whom you should address your cover letter.
  • Send a respectful cover letter.
  • Don’t get angry if they reject your writing. Don’t respond at all in such a case.
  • Read their magazine first.
  • Submit work that fits with the aesthetic of their magazine. To find out what the aesthetic is, read it!
  • Be patient. Sometimes it can be a spell before you hear back from a publisher.
  • Don’t paste your submission in the body of an email if they want attachments.
  • And, of course, DON’T SEND YOUR SUBMISSION AS AN ATTACHMENT IF THEY WANT IT IN THE BODY OF AN EMAIL 😉

How to avoid making editors displeased? Treat your submission to a magazine or publishing house with the same respect you would take to a job interview. Put your best face forward, do your homework, follow the rules, and you’ll be in the best potential situation for success.

Did I miss anything in this post? What do you think are some of the things to avoid when submitting writing to a publishing house or literary magazine?

8 Questions To Ask Yourself If You Aren’t Getting Your Writing Published

In baseball, some of the best players in the game only get a hit roughly one out of every three times they are at the plate. The same can be said about writers and publishing.

Ty Cobb, one of the legends of the game, had a .366 batting average, the highest of all-time in Major League Baseball history. On average, 634 out of every 1000 times that he was at the plate, he would fail to get a hit.

Writers looking to publish can learn a lot from batting averages. A position player in the major leagues will generally hit between .200 and .360 during a full season. A writer successfully targeting journals relevant to their style, tone, and themes will have a success rate roughly equivalent to the average baseball player. If you get in a particularly hot streak, you may get a few acceptances in a row without a rejection. You may also get into a slump. In time, everything will average out.

If you are submitting your poetry or short fiction to competitive journals, contacting agents, or submitting your manuscript to publishers, and you are getting rejected consistently without any acceptances, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Have I had my writing edited? Does it read well, or is it choppy? Are there major problems?

2. Am I targeting the right literary journals, publishers, and agents? Would they actually be interested in my type of writing, or is this completely off the mark?

3. Do I need to build my platform? From where I am right now as a writer and a person, can I do anything to attract some attention to myself?

4. Do I know where to find agents, publishers, or literary journals? Duotrope.com, PW.org, and the Writer’s Market 2016 are all great places to start.

5. Have I been writing consistently enough to develop my skills to the point where my work is of a publishable standard? Do you treat writing as a part-time hobby, or are you serious about it? Your writing will improve the more you actually write.

6. Did I ever learn the fundamentals of writing, or have I gone into creative writing with a lot of passion, but little education in the workings of craft? If you never learned how to write well, you won’t.

7. How is my mindset? Am I visualizing success or am I anticipating another rejection letter? Your thoughts become reality. Create a reality where you expect to publish your writing.

8. Have I been reading other writers who write like I do? Absorbing ideas and style from other writers is critical, and writers who don’t read are writers who don’t get published.

If your writing is almost never accepted, or is never accepted, with around 95% certainty, I can say that you are probably doing at least one of these things wrong, and most likely many of them.

Now, once you correct your mistakes, you will not get accepted to every literary journal you submit your poems or short fiction to, or every independent publisher that you submit your manuscript to, or every agent that you contact. Far from it. But, you will get some successes.

I hope that this post motivated you to move forward.

I know that if you work hard and make the appropriate tweaks, you will become a successful writer.

In success,
Alfonso

A Critical Mistake to Avoid When Writing Short Fiction

Don’t treat short fiction as a novel.

Whatever you do—DON’T treat short fiction as a novel.

What I mean is this: when you are writing short fiction, it takes a different approach than if you’re working on a novel. The key is brevity. You have to say just as much as you would in a novel, but you have to do so succinctly.

A good rule of thumb when writing any piece of short fiction: stick to as brief a period of time as possible. The story can take place in fifteen minutes in one location. It doesn’t have to be wildly ambitious.

Of course, rules are meant to be broken…once you’ve achieved mastery. There are short fiction writers like Isaac Bashevis Singer whose short stories read like mini-novels in the depth and complexity of their plot. In my opinion, Singer was one of the best short fiction writers. He could get away with flouting that rule; once you grow as a writer, by putting in much time and effort, you can too.

However, for now, as an aspiring writer, I suggest adhering to the following acronym:

Keep

It

Simple

Stupid

And I guarantee that your short fiction will be a lot easier to write and have a much greater chance of getting published by a literary magazine.

Do you have any other tips for short fiction writers? Feel free to leave a comment!

Six Mistakes That Publishers Hate

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As an aspiring writer attempting to build a name, you don’t want to irritate publishers. There are many mistakes that publishers hate. Please make sure to avoid the following:

1. Responding to Rejections – If your writing is rejected by a publisher, don’t respond to the rejection under any circumstances. A response is inappropriate. A response trying to convince a publisher otherwise, insulting them for passing on your writing, or bemoaning the rejection is a huge faux pas.

2. Poorly Edited Material – Even if your concept is interesting, if your writing is poorly executed you’re wasting a publisher’s time—and your own. You must have your fiction edited before sending your work out to a publisher. There’s no way around this step.

3. Material That’s An Inappropriate Fit – How do you imagine a publisher would feel if they had to reject (as they will) the most amazing piece they’ve ever read because it’s totally incongruous with their style? Show some respect and submit your writing to appropriate markets.

4. Fanfiction – I don’t really need to say anything more: it’s called copyright.

5. Ignoring Submission Guidelines – You can’t send seven poems to a literary magazine if they ask writers to send no more than three. You can’t send a short fiction piece as an attachment if the literary journal wants it copied in the body of an email. Always read the submission guidelines before submitting and make sure to follow them.

6. Unprofessional Query/Cover Letters – You’re not displaying personality, all you’re doing is showing a lack of professionalism. A too informal cover letter rubs many publishers the wrong way, even when submitting somewhere that appreciates edgy work or presents itself on their website as rather informal. You’ll be seen as an amateur, regardless of the quality of your writing.

Have you ever made any of these mistakes? It’s time to ‘fess up about your tragic experiences so that other aspiring writers can avoid making the same errors.

I imagine that sharing these experiences will also have a cathartic effect, but don’t quote me on that…

Do Your Homework Before You Send Out Your Writing

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If you were unemployed, what would be a better use of your time, sending out 100 unedited resumes to different positions, many wildly outside of your skill set, or sending out five targeted resumes to positions that are a match for you based on your skills, experience, and possibly even contacts within the company?

The answer to this rhetorical question is obvious.

The same rule applies when submitting to literary journals, agents, or publishers.

It really is not in your best interest to submit your writing everywhere. Why?

1. It shows a lack of respect for the agent, publisher, or literary magazine. You’re expecting them to work with you, but you’re not spending even the slightest bit of time finding out what they’re about. If you think about it, it’s a pretty classless move.

2. It can seriously damage your reputation. Even if your writing improves dramatically, once you’re inside, you’ll realize that the literary game is a small world. You don’t want people remembering you as the aspiring writer who carelessly sent work out to everyone in the industry.

3. It will bruise your ego. Facing countless rejections without any acceptances mixed in will hurt. That’s not to say that you won’t get rejected if you strategize, but you’ll mix those rejections with more than a few acceptances.

So, how do you research publishers, agents, or literary magazines?

Two websites and one book can help you to target effectively. They are Duotrope.com, PW.org (Poets & Writers), and the 2014 Writer’s Market.

With that information at your fingertips, you can begin the process of researching good fits for your writing.

6 Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Submit Your Short Story or Poetry

You wrote a great story/poem and now you’re all ready to submit it for consideration in your favorite journal. Before you click send, make sure that your submission doesn’t have any of these six common red flags by asking yourself:

1. Did you format your submission appropriately? Here are the guidelines for poems and here are the guidelines for short fiction. Note that some journals may have their own formatting guidelines, which you should always follow. However, you should default to these guidelines unless a journal explicitly notes otherwise.

2, Did you proofread your submission? Spelling and grammatical errors are a huge turn-off to editors. Run a spelling and grammar check on your word processing software, proofread your writing yourself, and have a friend look over your work before you click send.

3. Are you sure the journal is an appropriate fit? It may be your favorite journal, but do they publish the same kind of work that you wrote? Does your style fit with the magazine? Does your content? Your genre? Most journals have very narrow parameters of what kind of work they publish. You can find out through reading a few issues if your work is an appropriate fit for publication in the magazine.

4. Did you find out the editor/publisher’s name? Make sure that you browse the publication to find out who is likely going to be reading your work and making the final decision. If you place the wrong name, or no name at all, it will give the impression that you are not a regular reader and/or do not think the editor/publisher is worth your time.

5. Have you read the magazine? Editors can tell when writers send a submission without reading the magazine first. These result in rejections. Familiarize yourself with the work published in the magazine.

6. Did you compose a cover letter that can win an editor over? Is your cover letter professional or is it a hard sell? Is your cover letter professional or are you begging for publication? Is your cover letter professional or is it a form letter? We’ve all heard of writers and their antics, but if you are an aspiring writer, edgy as your work may be, a cover letter is not the time to show anything less than your professional side.

The Vanguard of Online Literary Journals

If you aspire to challenge yourself as a writer of short-form fiction and/or poetry, you ought to familiarize yourself with the vanguard of online literary journals.

Listed below are ten top literary journals that publish on the Web. The work they post is available for all to read. You don’t have to buy a print journal or PDF. If you’re serious about taking your work to the next level, you need to read these free publications.

When you read top literary magazines like the ten listed below, you’ll be exposed to the work of some of the most gifted emerging writers and established voices in the literary game. Furthermore, although acceptance rates in all these journals are very low, should you send a piece to one of these journals that matches with their aesthetic and that wins over their editors, it may be just the springboard you need to move forward in your literary career. These journals are all widely read and deeply respected.

Without further ado, here are ten literary journals you need to read:

PANK

Word Riot

decomP

Hobart

Bartleby Snopes

JMWW

Camroc Press Review

Spork Press

Tin House Flash Fridays

SmokeLong Quarterly

By no means is this list comprehensive. Excellent literature can be found in even the deepest corners of the Web, but if you start with just these ten journals you’ll definitely sharpen your understanding of what top-quality literature and poetry can be. Hopefully, through having a greater awareness, you can push yourself towards new literary heights.

Personal Rejections Are Good!

For most writers of short fiction or poetry, publishing your writing in top-tier literary journals is the goal (Yes, we write because we love it, but we also write because we want our ideas, our thoughts, our worlds to be shared with others.) Acceptances are great; however, don’t underestimate the value of personal rejections.

I don’t remember the exact quote, but I believe that Charles Bukowski, in a clip from Born Into This, explained what he read into his early literary rejections: “It’s not that you’re not good, son—it’s that you’re not good enough.”

If you are receiving personal rejections from competitive literary journals, you ought to be downright ecstatic. While of course acceptances are the goal, personal rejections are hard to come by in the literary world. The criticisms you receive may cut to the bone. Still, for your own sanity, you should be aware what the editor is doing is performing a service. S/he took time out of their busy schedule to offer their thoughts. If your work wasn’t close to making it, an editor would have responded with a form rejection.

As writers, we have a misguided tendency to believe that our work is always without flaw. It never is. However, if you receive a personal rejection for a piece, know that you are VERY close. Know that you are knowledgeable enough to be submitting your work to appropriate markets. Know that you are skilled enough of a writer to warrant a response. You’re on the right path. Personal rejections are good. Let them spur you on to making the necessary changes and finding a new journal to publish your work!

And please, whatever you do, don’t try to argue with the editor’s points. Just don’t.

How Can I Publish My Fiction and/or Poetry in Literary Magazines?

Publishing your flash fiction, short fiction, and/or poetry in competitive literary journals is rather simple once you know how to navigate the literary market. This holds true regardless of your style, the content of your work, or whether you’ve been published widely (or at all).

Below is a simple step-by-step guide to publishing your writing in online or print literary journals:

1. The obvious step: write your flash piece, short story, or poem. (You don’t want to get caught up in the hoopla that coincides with the thought of getting your work published until you’ve actually written something.)

2. Edit your work. Seriously. Edit your work. Your idea may be brilliant, your literary voice may be powerful, but if there are serious (or even minor) errors in your piece, it will most likely be rejected. You want your piece to be flawless when you send it out.

3. Sign up for a subscription to Duotrope.com. It costs only $5.00/month, yet Duotrope’s value to an aspiring writer is worth so much more. Duotrope contains a searchable database that connects you to (at the date of this posting) 4924 competitive fiction, poetry, and non-fiction markets.

4. Search Duotrope.com for an appropriate journal for your needs. You can search by genre, style, length, payment, submission type (electronic or postal), subject, medium (electronic, print, or audio), response time, and acceptance ratio. You can also browse their index and find journals through serendipity.

5. Read the journal. Seriously. Read the journal. If they do not post directly to the Web, buy an issue. Read it carefully. Do the pieces match your style? Is the content similar enough? You don’t want to waste an editor’s time by sending a perfectly good piece of yours to a journal that is a bad match. It will be rejected.

6. Follow the submissions guidelines to a T. If they ask for a bio, read some of the other authors who’ve published with that journal and analyze how their bios look (Are they whimsical? Serious?)

7. Format your manuscript to industry standards. Here is an excellent link on how to do so for short fiction. Also, make sure to comply with the journal’s preference for postal or electronic submissions. If a journal accepts electronic submissions, find out from their submissions guidelines page whether they want submissions attached as a document or whether they would prefer submissions to be pasted in the body of your email.

8. Send out your piece/s and wait for the results. If the journal that you submitted your work to accepts simultaneous submissions, you may want to find other journals that are good fits for your piece/s and send your writing to them as well (so long as they too accept simultaneous submissions). Should your simultaneously submitted work be accepted in a journal, make sure that you notify all other journals that you submitted that piece to of your acceptance ASAP.

Best of luck!

I hope that this guide proves to be of value to you as you go forward in your literary pursuits.