Featured Author: Reaping the Rewards of a Submission Bonanza!

After an incredibly intense month of submitting writing to 30 literary magazines in 30 days, following my Submission Bonanza! Challenge, I am beginning to reap the rewards.

This month Flash Frontier included me in their featured authors section.  Check it out!

Also, if you want to do your own Submission Bonanza! you can check out my tips for editing and choosing pieces to submitfinding magazines, and writing your cover letter and bio.

Or check out the unexpected lessons that I learned while doing this challenge.

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Sharing: “And Your Soul Shall Dance” by Garrett Kaoru Hongo

And Your Soul Shall Dance

 

Walking to school beside fields

of tomatoes and summer squash,

alone and humming a Japanese love song,

you’ve concealed a copy of Photoplay

between your algebra and English texts.

Your knee socks, saddle shoes, plaid dress,

and blouse, long-sleeved and white

with ruffles down the front,

come from a Sears catalogue

and neatly compliment your new Toni curls.

All of this sets you apart from the landscape:

flat valley grooved with irrigation ditches,

a tractor grinding through alkaline earth,

the short stands of windbreak eucalyptus

shuttering the desert wind

from a small cluster of wooden shacks

where your mother hangs the wash.

You want to go somewhere.

Somewhere far away from all that dust

and sorting machines and acres of lettuce.

Someplace where you might be kissed

by someone with smooth, artistic hands.

When you turn into the schoolyard,

the flagpole gleams like a knife blade in the sun,

and classmates scatter like chickens,

shooed by the storm brooding on your horizon.

 

Garrett Kaoru Hongo (1982, p.69)

Call for Submissions: Flash Frontier

In October, one of my favorite magazines, Flash Frontier, will be putting out an international issue, so everyone can join in the fun!  The theme of the issue will be “Rescued!”  They are open now for submissions for the international issue.  See the guidelines below.

 

Submissions now open

In 2013 we are reading and publishing on a bi-monthly basis. Each issue follows a theme. See our Themes and Announcements pages for details. Also see Archives to read past issues and get a feel for stories we publish.

What we like

We are looking for variety and originality. Tickle us, haunt us, gobsmack us. Choose your words carefully and leave our readers wanting more. And do it in 250 or less (not including title).

Please submit only previously unpublished works. If the work has appeared in any other print or electronic journal, we consider it published. If it has appeared on a writing workshop site, we will consider it but please do let us know, and we expect Flash Frontierto be credited with first publication if your work appears in our pages.

We love original art in all forms — colourful and daring, muted and understated. We’ll choose art each month which reflects the theme.

How to submit

Stories

  • Electronic submissions only. Submit submissions in an email to: flashfrontier [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Write Submission: month / theme (that is, name the theme, as in: Submission: January / Frontiers) in the subject line.
  • Place your story in the body of the email. No attachments, please. If your story requires unusual formatting, the editors may ask for an different kind of document to confirm your formatting requirements.
  • Include the title of your story, your name, and the whole text in the email.
  • Please format your story by using double spacing between paragraphs and no indent on paragraph beginnings.
  • Provide a brief biographical sketch (approx. 60 words) about yourself that can be included on our Contributor page. You do not have to include your bio if you have submitted to us before.
  • Submissions are due by the last day of the month for the following month’s issue. Each issue will appear mid-month.
  • Remember to count: 251 won’t be accepted.
Art
  • If you are submitting art, please send your work(s) as an attachment. Provide a title for the piece and tell us where the artwork originated. Artists may send up to five pieces for consideration at once.
  • Please provide a brief commentary (approx. 60 words) about your art submission.
  • Provide a brief biographical sketch (approx. 60 words) about yourself that can be included on our Contributor page. You do not have to include your bio if you have submitted to us before.

Payment and Rights

  • We do not pay authors for their work, but there will be prizes awarded quarterly and at the conclusion of our first year.
  • An author must own full copyright of the work submitted.
  • First rights revert to author upon publication, although Flash Frontier reserves the right to anthologize material originally published here in electronic or printed format.

Please direct any questions to us at flashfrontier [at] gmail [dot] com

6 Tips for Perfect (Professional) Cover Letters for Literary Magazines

submission bonanza logo 2 copyBy now, if you’ve been following my Submission Bonanza! series, you should have picked the pieces you want to send to magazines and compiled a list of magazines that you want to submit to.  It’s time now to write a cover letter to send along with your submissions.  As Michael Nye, Editor of the Missouri Review says, sending a cover letter with your submission is “like wearing a suit to an interview.”  Don’t let your submissions to literary magazines show up naked!

It’s easy to feel stressed about this part of the process of submitting to literary magazines: the cover letter  (duh-duh dun….).  It’s understandable because this can be the first impression that you are giving to the editors of the magazine.  We definitely want to put our best foot forward and present ourselves as professional, competent writers.

But also, keep in mind that you are not being judged on your cover letter.  Editors want solid writing.  So make a nice, neat little cover letter and spend the majority of your time stressing about whether you should put that extra comma in your new creative nonfiction piece.

So here are some things to think about when writing a cover letter:

1.  Follow the guidelines of the literary magazine.

This seems self-explanatory, but a lot of literary magazines ask for different kinds of information in the cover letter.  Some of them want word counts or genre.  Others want a short bio about you.  Some even ask for no cover letter at all.  If you are submitting simultaneously, you’ll also need to note that.  Make sure you follow their specific guidelines.

 

2. Address the letter to a person.

This is not a “To Whom It May Concern” letter.  It’s pretty easy to find most of the staff at a literary magazine under their masthead.  Some magazines even tell you in the submission guidelines who to address it to.  Be as specific as possible.  If you’re submitting poetry, address it directly to Ms. Sally B. Poetryeditor.  If you can’t pinpoint a specific name, you can address it to the editor.

 

3. Keep it short and simple. 

Don’t forget, a lot of editors are reading hundreds or thousands of these.  This is not a query letter, so you don’t need to describe your piece to them.  You don’t need to tell them how you came up with the idea or list the twenty-seven other literary magazines you’ve been in.  For example, the Colorado Review suggests this cover letter:

Dear Editor,

Enclosed is my [fiction/nonfiction/poetry] submission “Title of Manuscript.” Thank you for considering it for publication in Colorado Review.

[*If submitting via mail] I’ve included an SASE for [response only/the return of my manuscript].

Your Name

Full Contact Info

 

 4. Keep it professional.

Naturally, you want to make sure that the grammar and punctuation are flawless and that it is in a professional format.  But also, you don’t need to be cute or catchy to get the editor’s attention.  Let your writing do that.  That’s what they are looking for.

 

5. Add a short bio (Optional).

Some magazines ask for a short bio or you may feel that it’s in your best interest to include one.  This should only be a line or two of relevant information. Don’t tell your life story, just one or two tidbits that are interesting or pertinent.  Don’t include a whole list of the hundreds of places you’ve been published.  Just pick 3-5.  Also, if you haven’t been published, don’t be ashamed to include that too.  As Nye suggests:

If you’ve never been published before? Say so. “If accepted, this would be my first published story.” All literary magazines love being the one to publish a writer for the first time, so acknowledging this possibility can only help.

 

 6. Add a note about what you read in the magazine or how you know the magazine (Also optional).

If you want to personalize it a bit for the magazine, some editors might like to know that you did actually take the time to read past issues or that you have had past correspondences with them.  But again, this step could be optional.

 

In the end, I really like this bit Nye’s advice really calmed me down:

A professional cover letter is all we ask, and even minus that, if the work is excellent, we don’t really care. We want to publish the best work we read, regardless of whether or not you’re an emerging writer or an established one.

So don’t stress too much about your cover letter.  Get it done, and make it professional, so you can get back to your craft.

 

So, the goal for this week:

Make a template of your cover letter and bio.  Have them ready and at hand when you want to submit.  I personally made a template that had all the information I could possibly want to send to and editor (word counts, genres, bio, etc) and then cut or edited from that for each literary magazine.  Once this work is out of the way, you’ll be nearly set to start submitting!

 

Need more help?

You can read Michael Nye’s article on The Art of the Literary Magazine Cover Letter.

You could also look at advice about what not to do by Michael Kardos at Writer’s Digest. 

Or take a look at this sample cover letter from The Review Review.

Sharing: “Cradle Song” by Sarojini Naidu

Cradle Song

From groves of spice,
Athwart the lotus-stream,
I bring for you,
Aglint with dew
A little lovely dream.

Sweet, shut your eyes,
The wild fire-fiies
Dance through the fairy neem;
From the poppy-bole
For you I stole
A little lovely dream.

Dear eyes, good-night,
In golden light
The stars around you gleam;
On you I press
With soft caress
A little lovely dream.

Call for Submissions: Hoot Review

Hoot Review

I love the idea of this mini-litmag on a postcard and the challenge of staying under 150 words.  Also, they have online workshops where they will help you edit your work before you even submit.  This one is definitely worth sharing.

Here are their submission guidelines:

We accept fiction, non-fiction, memoir, poetry, and book reviews year-round. Graphic fiction/non-fiction also welcome, but it must fit on a postcard.  We publish only one (1!) piece in print form each month– we publish 1-4 pieces in our online issue.

We accept work on a rolling basis–you can expect to hear from us within a month to six weeks, if we’re on schedule, which we are about 50% of the time. We do pay for pieces published on postcards (more details on this below).

  • ALL PROSE: <150 words. We’re not going to count them, but…we mean it.
  • ALL POETRY: <10 lines (if it’s more, be open to “creative reformatting”), but still <150 words.  Remember, it has to fit on a postcard!
  • BOOK REVIEWS: These will be published online, or on the back of a postcard when possible. Still <150 words. Must be of a recently published book (within the last year). The book must be published by an independent or small press. You are welcome to query before submitting if you would like our feedback on the book you are reviewing. If you would like your book reviewed by us, please send a query letter to info@hootreview.com.

You may submit as many works as you like, but two per submission. All work must be previously unpublished. Simultaneous submissions are, of course, allowed–but please let us know if your work is placed elsewhere.

We will read all types of work. However, we especially like work that is audacious, surprising and zesty. Furthermore, we want this postcard to be shareable. As you’re submitting, remember the Refrigerator Rule. Ask yourself: “Would someone want this hanging on their fridge?” Work that’s about the depressingness of gloomy alcohol clinking on the bottom of a shadowy glass in the gloaming after a father’s death wouldn’t work as well hanging from a fridge or tucked playfully in someone’s lunchbag.

That said, if you’ve got some melancholy work that is surprising and zesty and GOOD then we would be very excited to check it out.

See our “ISSUES” page to read samples of the work we have published in the past.

We will also read your work, and give you detailed feedback, BEFORE you submit. (We must be crazy.) Bring your piece to our super friendly online workshop, held every other Wednesday.

Depending on how generous we’re feeling, we also often give feedback with our rejections, especially if it is requested.

Note: We do not solicit work — and we read all of our submissions blindly (we don’t look at cover letters until we decide to accept/reject). Every submission we receive is given the same consideration, and is read by at least two, but up to four people, and often out loud (while we consume delicious items, like raspberry tart and/or dumplings.)

COSTS & PAYMENT:

To use our online submission manager, it costs $2 to submit up to two pieces of work. We also accept submissions by regular mail, for no fee. All pieces are considered for both our print (postcard) and our online issues, unless you specify otherwise.

You may submit as many pieces as you like, but you will need to pay the $2 submission fee for every two submissions (your two pieces must be in the same document, or Submittable will charge you twice!)- or, if you submit by mail, you must mail every two pieces separately, with their own return envelope (you mustinclude a SASE for a response.)

As for payment– it is sort of like we hold a mini-contest every month (but it’s not exactly a contest, as our submissions are rolling). The author we publish on a postcard receives 30% of all the submission money (after Submittable takes its 52% cut) for that month, from the 20th of the month two months prior publication, to the 20th of the month one month prior (guaranteed minimum of $10!), along with five copies of that month’s issue. For example, if we publish you in October, you get 30% of the money we received between August 20th and September 20th.

Authors published in our online issue do not receive monetary compensation at this time, but will receive five copies of the corresponding month’s postcard.

OTHER STUFF

  • You have to be okay with having your work ‘creatively’ formatted—so that it will both look cool and fit on a postcard.  Which means—we might paint the words on some wood and photograph them, or photo-edit the words onto an interesting-yet-appropriate thing, like a medicine bottle label, or a paper napkin, etc.  If you are submitting a poem, this sometimes means we have to change line breaks…though we try not to do this, and we always do it tastefully (at least, we think so.) Do not submit your work if you are not okay with this.
  • We are often asked about what informs our decision regarding publishing a piece on a postcard versus publishing it in our online issue. Choosing pieces for postcards vs. online is not a matter of “which ones we like best.” We love all of the pieces we publish. Factors include- what pieces we have for other months (we try to balance poems and prose, as well as keep style and content varied from postcard to postcard), appropriateness for sharing (see the Refrigerator Rule above), and illustration potential (both imagery and length of the piece factor here, as longer pieces are much harder to work with.)

READY TO SUBMIT?

Click here to go to our online submission manager.

Submission Bonanza! How-To Step 2: Finding Literary Magazines

submission bonanza logo 2 copySubmission Bonanza! How-To Step 2: Finding LitMags

One of the lessons that really hit home during my Submission Bonanza! was that I need to be more choosy about the literary magazines that I submit to.    Now that I have a few acceptances under my belt, I realize that I may have sold myself short in my submission process.  Before starting this challenge, I was just excited to have my work ‘out there.’  And in some ways I still am.  But after my first acceptance, when I had to contact all the other magazines I had submitted to and ask them to withdraw the submission that was accepted, well… I was kind of sad to be withdrawing some of those.

Don’t get me wrong, it was great to get acceptances and I’m looking forward to seeing the publications, but next time around, I will be a little more thoughtful in choosing which literary magazines I submit to.  Many magazines are looking for unpublished pieces so that they can have first time rights and once you give those away, it’s much more difficult to find places that will want to publish a piece.

Here are some general things to think about when looking for magazines:*

Do you want to get paid?

My own Submission Bonanza! challenge started as a labor of love and I wasn’t at all thinking about getting paid.  But now that I have racked up some acceptances, I’m a little more keen to be compensated for my work.  A lot of magazines offer contributors copies as payment.  Others offer a small, token payment of $5-20 USD.  Still others pay by word, line, or page.  One of my favorite payment systems is automatic consideration in a contest, which means the chance of a bigger monetary prize and a contest to put on your CV, in addition to publication.

 Are you willing to pay to submit to magazines?

A lot of magazines that I found asked for a small ($2-3 USD) reading fee if you submitted online.  This means that you don’t have to spend the time/money to print your pieces, get envelopes, and pay for postage for your submission and your SASE for the response.  This could be a reasonable trade-off, especially if you are looking to get paid, or if you are submitting to magazines abroad.  If you do a month-long Submission Bonanza!  at the end of the month you will have spent about $90 USD and have 30 chances to get paid and published.  On the other hand, there are plenty of magazines out there that don’t charge a reading fee, even some that compensate writers, so you just need to decide what you are comfortable with.

 Do you want to be in print or online?

There’s something really satisfying about seeing your work and your name in print.  A lot of print magazines have years of prestige and awards behind them.  But, as brightonsauce said, there are very few people reading print literary magazines these days.  Perhaps you could reach a bigger audience with a small online magazine than you could with a small print magazine.  There are also a lot of litmags out there that have both print and online editions.  This is just something to give some thought to as you look for magazines.

What kind of rights are you willing to give up?

I am not a copyright lawyer, so I am not going to try to explain the legalities of the different kinds of publications rights.  But, I will direct you to this article and this article, both of which I found useful when I started thinking about publication rights.  What’s on your blog seems to be a little bit of a gray area.  I found magazines that specifically said personal blogs counted as being previously published and also found magazines that said that this kind of publication was not considered by them to be previously published.  Just to be safe, I took down the pieces I was submitting from my blog, but it was something I had to wrestle with a bit.

Are you submitting online or by mail?

I was fortunate enough to do my Submission Bonanza! from a tiny island in the Caribbean that did not have a post office.  So, this made this particular decision quite easy for me.  A lot of literary magazines that I found charged a fee for electronic submissions but not snail mail submissions.  I also found quite a few that no longer accepted submissions by post.  Just something to consider as you search.

Do you want to submit this piece to other magazines?

Luckily for us writers, most of the literary magazines that I looked at accepted simultaneous submissions, which means you can submit that piece to other magazines as you wait to hear back from them.  If you plan on submitting your work to more than one magazine at a time (which I highly recommend!) make sure that they all accept simultaneous submissions.

There are a lot of tools out there to help writers find magazines that they can submit to.  One of the most popular is Duotrope.  You can currently use their free trial to give it a go, but they have recently gone to a paid subscription service.  It’s $50 USD per year and helps you keep track of deadlines and submissions, so a lot of writers find it invaluable.

If you don’t have the funds to invest in Duotrope, never fear!  There are lots of resources out there for writers who are looking for markets to be published in.  The one I’ve personally used the most is Poets & Writers, which has a free search function where you can search by payment type, genre, or format of the magazine.  (This one is also recommended by Mary MacAvoy.)

You can also take a look at The Submission Grinder, which is another one of my favorites.  The platform is still in Beta mode, but their database is growing rapidly and they are quickly becoming a good, free alternative to Duotrope.  This one is easily searchable using lots of different criteria, so it’s incredibly useful.  One drawback is that it only looks at magazines that accept fiction, so if you’re looking to submit nonfiction or poetry, you could still use it (since a lot of literary magazines accept multiple genres) but you’ll have to do a little more research to weed out the magazines that accept your genre.  (And Rachel K. Jones finds this one useful, too.)

There are also lots of lists of magazines.  For example, I personally was interested in magazines that were affiliated with Writing M.F.A. Programs, so I used this list.  Maybe you want to be in a Top 50 magazine, so you could use this list.  Perhaps you know you want to submit electronically, so you could use this list.  If you’re looking for magazines that are particularly edgy, you could look here.  Maybe you just want a giant resource of lots of magazines, so you could look here or here.  I personally was looking for magazines that accepted online submissions, did not charge a reading fee, accepted simultaneous submissions, and were reading in the summer months, sothis is the list I came up with.

Goal for this week:

Compile a list of magazines (I would recommend double the number you are planning to submit to) as possible candidates to submit your work to.

*More info on how to match your specific pieces to magazines will be coming in a future post.  For now, keep your eye out for magazines that publish the genre of pieces you have, match your criteria from the questions above, and that you like the feel of.