Puget Sound English Department

December 5, 2008

Publishing Your Poetry and Short Fiction

Filed under: Creative Writing,Publishing — O. @ 11:06 pm

If you aren’t already sending out your poems and stories for publication and would like to get started, then you might be interested in a few basic tips.  Two of the best sources about where and how to send manuscripts are Poet’s Market and Novelist and Short Story Writer’s Market. Both are published annually by Writer’s Digest Books, and they’re available online, at Barnes & Noble, and at Border’s. The books list and describe magazines that publish poetry and short fiction.  It’s best to work with the most recent editions of these books.

S0me things to consider as you peruse the listings: Has the magazine been around a while? (If it was established in 2007, in may already be out of business.) How open is the magazine to work by writers relatively new to the “business”?  What kind of work does the magazine publish?  For instance, if a magazine specializes in highly experimental work and your story or poem is more mainstream, then your getting rejected by the magazine would have almost nothing to do with the quality of your work, and you’d simply want to avoid sending it there.  Finally, look at the “reporting time”–how quickly the magazine usually gets back to writers submitting work.

Most “little magazines” (as literary magazines are sometimes called) pay writers only in copies of the issue in which the work appears.  Others pay a few dollars, and still others run contests.  But you will want to avoid contests (especially online) that charge a fee, although it is now customary for chapbook-contests and book-contests to charge a reading fee.  Nonetheless, watch out for scams.

If your work gets rejected, don’t take it personally. Most magazines receive far more good submissions than they can publish. All magazines require a self-addressed, stamped envelope for the return of your work (also known as an SASE).

The sources from Writer’s Digest Books provide many more details about the particulars of publication and getting your work out there. Also, there are many more legitimate online magazines now.

Typically, magazines will want to read one short story (if you’re a fiction writer) and between 3 and 5 poems (if you’re a poet).

One other good source is The International Directory of Little Magazines and Small Presses.

Using desk-top publishing, you can also produce your own chapbook (a small collection) of poetry, distribute it to family and friends, and maybe sell a few copies.


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