I got my first rejection letter for 2012! Why the excitement? Well, rejection means that I at least got off my butt and submitted a story.
The amusing part was that a friend and I had both submitted to the same publication, and we both got rejected. Okay, not so amusing in itself, but we forwarded our rejections letters to each other, and my friend’s response to the letter I received was, “You should take heart. Your rejection was much better than mine.”
That made me laugh. Who knew there were degrees of rejection? I wonder if people ever send thank you notes for a rejection? I’m not being sarcastic here. The editor was very nice and did leave me hopeful that I am not too far off the mark of being published.
Anyway, onto my next attempt at fame and… Wait, there’s no such thing as fortune for writers, is there? Unless you can get a movie deal or pump out books and sell gazillions of them like Stephen King. I don’t think I fit into either category.
Even finding another place to submit has been rough. There are at least six hundred literary magazines out there! How do you choose which one is right for your type of writing?
The sheer number of literary magazines would make you think that it’s easy to get published somewhere. Unfortunately, most writer’s think that, so the LMs get an over abundance of submissions, and depending on what they are looking for (many want edgy and unique… how about erratic and ‘interesting’?…), it’s tough to get selected. Not to mention, that many of them only publish one or two times a year and can take a year to get back to you.
What that all means is that I need to do multiple submissions and just keep pumping stuff out there. The hunt for the best places to submit my stories and essays has been going on for about a week, and what I’ve discovered is that there are websites out there designed to help a writer weed through all the possible places they can submit. They even have tools that do things like allow you to save searches, keep a list of the places you’d like to submit, and track deadlines and submissions you’ve already sent out.
That all sounds great, right? But what I also found is that there isn’t one site that does everything I want it to do.
Duotrope is my favorite of the writer search sites I’ve found, as far as looking up literary magazines. It does not include information about other types of magazines, such as consumer and trade. It includes most of the literary magazines that I’ve searched for and is the most up-to-date. I can save the magazines I’m interested in submitting to in my “Favorites” list. I can also track my submissions and set deadlines.
Poets & Writers Magazine is another site that only lists literary magazines. It allows you to set up “My PW” to “Bookmark” magazines you are interested in submitting to. I ended up bookmarking a few that Duotrope did not have in their database. P & W also has tools to set deadline reminders but I don’t see any tools beyond that.
Writers Market charges a minimal fee to use their search and submission tracking tools, and I was hoping to do without them. But they include much more in their database than Duotrope and Poets & Writers, including consumer magazines I’d like to query. There is also information on book publishers, conferences, trade magazines, contests, and everything you would find in the printed Writers Market book. It would be nice if I could just use this site, but their information seems to be updated much less often than the other two sites and there were a number of literary magazines that they don’t list. I also couldn’t find my favorite dog magazine, “Bark”. What’s up with that?!
So I’m a bit bent out of shape that I can’t just use one tool to find and track the places I’d like to query and submit to, but it appears (until I can figure something else out), that I will mainly use Duotrope for literary magazines and Writers Market for everything else.
During my quest, I also found a very helpful site called Review Review. It lists literary magazines and has some filtering capability to search, but none of the tools to save information. But what it does have is reviews of the literary magazine and its contents, which provides a deeper look into what the editors want. It also has some great tips about submitting, and a classifieds section and there is a newsletter you can subscribe to. If nothing else, go to Review Review and read the “About” page where the founding editor Becky Tuch states, “As a fiction writer, trying to get my work published felt as futile and inconsequential as trying to write my name on a snowflake.”
I myself find that I’m comparing the experience to my youthful days spent fishing. I’d go out on the lake, trying to decide whether to try worms, bacon, grubs, or leeches and whether I should fish in the bay on the north side or the weedy shallows on the east side.
A few little nibbles is all it takes to keep a person going back for another try.