submitting to magazines 101

I got this comment:

I wanted to thank you for this nice comment you left on a story of mine Eye for "Eye"gore. Sex Scenes at Starbucks remarked thusly... "This is fucking brilliant. Don't change a word. I'd buy it if it was speculative, but it's not, and we don't pay nearly enough. Well done." But what I really wanted to ask was what you meant by the "speculative" comment? I am a carpenter- a builder. I write for amusement and never have considered writing for publication. Well, until recently. I thought it might be fun to get this story published somewhere.


Yup, sounds like my comment. And the story is good. Kudos again.

I write and edit speculative fiction, by which I mean fantasy, sci fi, and horror. You can take a look at
Electric Spec to see what I mean.

I think your piece is more literary. If I were you (this is what I'd have to do because I don't know the literary rags all that well) I'd hunt through
Ralans. There are search mechs on the database that will help you sort through. Start with "literary, pro rates" and then read the magazines and guidelines, at least a little, to see if you think it would be a fit. I know you're a new writer so the pro zines might feel scary, but we editors could really give a crap if it's truly good and fits our needs. And hell, start at the top, I always say. (OK, skip the New Yorker. I've heard they're always full.)

If you've never thought of publication, this might be beyond what you've anticipated, but it's the best way to save yourself on rejections. And, Scott, there will be rejections. Don't take it personally. Sometimes it has nothing to do with "good;" it just has to do with appropriate or timing or personal taste or PMS or any number of things. Sure as hell don't let it stop you. I know an award winning story that was submitted 17 times. I have an honorable mention from a major contest in my own stable that I can't give away.

Then start submitting. Feel free to submit more than one place at one time, just try to keep track and if it gets accepted somewhere, let everyone else know. I personally mostly ignore the requirements for simulataneous submissions, because as an editor, and especially as a writer, I think single subs are bullshit, especially in light of lengthy response times. Expect to wait 1-3 months for responses.

The good news is that many zines are now accepting email subs. This makes them easy to turn around. I personally give myself 24 hours to pout, and then I send it right back out. They do want the entire story, too.

Generally, something like this will serve as a cover letter:

re: Fiction Sub: Eye For Eyegore
Dear Editors,

Please consider my short story "Eye For Eyegore" for publication in "name of zine." The story runs X words and is a simulataneous submission.

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely, Peace, Cheers,


You'll notice I've got the title in the email, and the word count. Those are the two most important pieces because editors are by nature kinda lazy and want to know how long your drivel is going to...

Kidding! No, that's for space purposes, and to make sure it fits within guidelines.

You'll notice what I DON'T include is "This is my first story," or "I just started writing; hopefully you can give me a critique," or "I'm a bus driver by day" or even "my cat sits on my lap while I write."

NOT KIDDING. I see shit like this all the time. Editors are not critiquers (I give my time happily to crapometer, my personal critique group, and a select friend or two; I never crit stories sent to me at the zine.) We also don't care when, where, or how you wrote the story, just whether we like it and if it suits. Savvy? Also, don't feel bad about having no credits to list--some heavily-published writers routinely list none, and also most editors love to publish new writers. Fuck the ones who don't, and yeah, you can quote me on that. Their loss.

Geez, now about that carpentry. Shit, I wish you were closer to CO--I could keep a good carpenter busy for months.

And get your minds out the gutter, the rest of you lot. I meant doing actual carpentry.

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