A confession: I haven’t really paid much attention to literary magazines. Till now. To be honest, I never even knew so many of them existed, jostling for attention in a crowded market place. It was this article by Joe Bunting in The Write Practice that captured my interest. In an interview, Linda Swanson-Davis, co-founder of Glimmer Train speaks of “How To Get Published In Literary Magazines.”
It was encouraging to hear that literary agents do look at literary magazines to scout for new writing talent. If your piece gets published in some of the more prestigious literary magazines such as the New Yorker, Ploughshares or The Atlantic, who knows someone may come looking for you! Since there are so many magazines, big and small which cater to very different audiences, it’s a good idea to identify the ones which may most likely accept your writing. By doing this, you can focus on a few literary magazines where you have a better chance of success. This, of course, is a matter of your own judgement. Remember, the process of having your piece accepted takes long and you should be prepared to get the usual rejects which is part of a writer’s life.
Apart from honing your skills as a writer (and you know that in writing, like in many other skills, practice makes perfect), you could get some money too for your efforts. All literary magazines do not pay for your contributions, but many of them do. However, I would not let this be the most important consideration. Often getting your writing published in a magazine of high repute is reward enough, as they have exacting standards. That your writing has passed their qualification standards is most rewarding.
I notice that most literary magazines call for submissions for fiction, largely short stories, as well as creative non-fiction and essays. If you aren’t sure what editors look for, here is something interesting. Lynne Barrett in The Review Review gives tips on “What Editors Want” This is a comprehensive article which tells you all that you would need to know about the process of submitting to a literary magazine.
All this reading has inspired me to give it a shot. I shall work towards making a few submissions over time to a few chosen literary magazines. I leave you largely excited at doing something I have never done before!