Getting your work published is always rewarding, but before that can happen you need to seek out places to submit your work to. Even then, the process of submitting work and then waiting to hear back from literary magazines takes a lot of waiting. The Advanced Creative Writing students learn the ins and outs of getting their work published, from searching through multiple literary magazines to find the best fit for the type of writing piece they are submitting, as well as being aware of the acceptance rate for each literary magazine to help gauge which ones are the best ones to submit to. I recently spoke with senior English major, Hannah Humphries, about what it has been like trying to submit her creative work to literary magazines.
1. What has the process been like submitting your writing to get published?
Submitting my stories to lit mags makes me feel like my writing is actually going somewhere, which I think is good for any writer or other content creator. I was originally encouraged to submit my stories by Dr. Gerald Majer, one of our English professors, whose been really supportive throughout the process. He recommends lit mags to me whenever he can think of them. So, overall, submitting plus having someone there encouraging me is a great feeling.
Sometimes you can get a little overwhelmed by it all, though, and it’s pretty easy to get downtrodden by it. I had that problem when I was just starting out and trying to be really selective. At that point, I was submitting to big, big magazines like the Gettysburg Review, the Georgia Review, and TriQuarterly, just to name a few. At this point, I basically just fling my stories everywhere and hope to get a bite. I haven’t gotten one yet, but I’m still hopeful.
Honestly, the worst thing about the submission process isn’t even the rejections – it’s the fees. There are plenty of free submission opportunities, but larger lit mags usually do charge, and even the $2 fees here and there add up pretty quickly. I think the most I’ve spent on a submission fee for a short story is around thirty bucks. Lit mags don’t try to hide their fees, though, which is nice.
2. Have you had to deal with rejection? What made you keep going?
Most literary magazines require you to use Submittable, which is just a submission service that keeps everything in one place. These aren’t all of my past submissions (because I have submitted to a few places that don’t use Submittable), but as of now, I have seventeen actual submissions on my account; three of those are active, while the other fourteen were declined. Honestly, having a story get declined isn’t that big of a deal for me – that’s just not something that I normally get emotional over or anything. I need to get a lot more submissions out; the only reason that I don’t have more is that I’ve received several declinations recently and I’ve been busy with school and all.
Sometimes, though, getting declined is encouraging in and of itself. That sounds crazy, but I’m being totally honest when I say that having a personalized rejection is fantastic. My two best rejections were from major lit mags: the Masters Review and TriQuarterly. In both cases, my stories made it to the editors’ table (the final round), and the responses strongly encouraged me to submit again. I know that getting a message like that from TriQuarterly specifically (after waiting about ten months) is really impressive, because they usually don’t publish anything that’s unsolicited (i.e. something not submitted by a literary agent). Being told that kind of stuff by professors is exciting.
Then, of course, I get messages like, “there wasn’t enough detail to convince us that this was actually happening.” Like, yeah, dude. It’s about aliens.