So, we like to think of ourselves as a serious publication. The pieces we read often deal with serious subject matter, and the authors who share their work with us are (99% of the time) serious about publication.
But, knowing this, we also want to be an approachable publication. We recognize that many people who are submitting to us are part of the queer/LGBTQ+ community, and may not have had an outlet specifically seeking their personal work before. We’ve also already received submissions from high school students for whom this would be their first-ever publication. For this reason, we want to provide a quick primer of how to submit to us (a.k.a. how to make us unbelievably happy to read your submission), which will inevitably contain some general tips about how to submit to other literary journals and magazines.
Read the submission guidelines
Our submit page is right up there at the top, and it contains such important information as our word count and line limits, how many pieces in how many genres you can submit at a time, and how to format your submission. You’d be surprised at how many people simply don’t read them. (Maybe not, if you’re a teacher or some other kind of boss whose students/associated underlings make predictable errors.)
Reading the submission guidelines is important because 99 times out of 100, submitting a 1,500-word, double-spaced story when the guidelines ask for a max of 1,000 single-spaced words means your submission will be rejected on sight. Some publications will reject all double-spaced submissions if their guidelines ask for single-spaced only, and some will reject poems that go one line over the limit. Many of these journals simply do not have the time to read submissions that don’t follow the guidelines, and that’s well within their right.
Speaking for ourselves, as we’re newer and currently able to manage submissions with just the two of us, we’ll let the odd infraction go because we currently have that luxury. But in the future, this will likely change. If you read the guidelines, you’ll never once have to worry about this. (Note: in our quest to be as approachable as possible, we want to make sure the guidelines are easy to understand for everyone. If you find any phrasing ambiguous or contradictory, please let us know! We’ll be so glad to be able to fix that.)
Don’t waste the editors’ time
The art of writing a cover letter for a literary magazine can be so straightforward that people often use the exact same letter for several submissions, filling in the blanks with the journal title and submitted works. This is totally fine with us, until it isn’t.
We’ve had a few submitters already tell us they’ve read our “sample issue” or “preview issue” and are convinced that as a result of this, their work will fit in well. The first problem is, we have yet to publish an issue. The next problem is, if the preceding sentence is true, then what are these people telling us they’ve read?
As a new publication, we of course hope that you’ll submit to us, and we recognize that we’re all learning together what fits best here as we compile our first issue. But telling us you’ve read a section of our website that doesn’t exist only tells us that you probably don’t care about being published here, specifically. Which is fine! Just don’t send us a cover letter that tells us as much.
Be familiar with the publication
As covered above, as of this writing, we are pre-first issue. We have no previous issues to offer. We can’t say “read the stuff we’ve already published to get a feel for what we like,” because we haven’t published anything yet. In fact, there’s not a lot to be familiar with at all besides what’s on our about page.
Well…and our masthead. Pro-tip: If a publication’s masthead (which lists the people who work on the publication; in this case, that’s our editors) lists two people, both of whom use she/her/hers pronouns, don’t address your cover letter “Dear Sir.” That says a whole lot about you and makes us not terribly interested to read your writing, much less publish your work, even if it’s amazing. (See: “Don’t waste the editors’ time,” above.)
Once we have issues out there, we don’t expect you to have read every single one. And if you’re submitting nonfiction, for example, we don’t even expect you to have read any of the poetry, unless you want a deeper sense of what the overall theme of an issue might have been. We’d just want you to have a general sense of the type of work we publish so you don’t submit, say, a horror story that takes place in Antarctica. (We’d still love to read it, if we happen upon one! It’s just unlikely that it will fit into an issue.)
Thanks very much for reading this little info piece/rant/vent! We promise this is all written with the best intentions and that while submitting work to publications can take some getting used to, it does become rather second-nature as you submit to more places. Drop us a line if you have questions about what we’re looking for—we’re always happy to chat with potential submitters!