All posts tagged: submitting

On the Cusp of a Creative Life

Image: Molly Montgomery Two weeks ago, I wrapped up my M.A. program in Creative Writing at UC Davis. I had already turned in and defended my thesis— a collection of ten short stories about California, my family history, fairies, wildfires, and ghosts, among other things— and all I had left was to finish up papers for a pedagogy class and a workshop on poet’s prose. I’m not ready to say goodbye to days of indulging in long bursts of writing and reading, and at least for the summer I can still pretend I’m working on writing for my program. But I’m at a crucial turning point in which I need to figure out how to carry my writing practices from grad school into the dreaded “real world.” Luckily, I feel like my MA program prepared me for this moment because if I learned anything in grad school, it was how to be self-sufficient as a writer. Now that I am reflecting on how my program has shaped my writing and allowed me to grow, I …

How Not to Follow Up

Hey, writers, let’s talk submissions again! It’s been a while. I’ve previously written about what cover letters should look like, what stories you should probably not show litmags, other stories you should probably not show litmags, etc. I’d like to add to this a list of behavior you should never ever indulge in when following up on a submission, from the no-bullshit perspective of someone who spends a lot of time reading slush. If I reject you, please don’t write me back with some snide remark about how I’d like your work if only I were smarter or nicer. Why would you do this? All you have accomplished is that now you are on my permanent blacklist, and if I’m having a really annoying day, I will forward your mean email to your MFA program director or whichever magazine most recently published your work. Stop. Accept that you didn’t get in this time. I don’t get into places all the time. It happens. Please do not wait TWO DAYS and then email me to ask …

The Only Cover Letter Template You’ll Ever Need

Once, in undergrad, I submitted a story I wrote for my sophomore workshop to n + 1 and got a positive response, an interest in putting the thing in their next online issue if I could only revise it enough. I couldn’t revise it enough, because I was secretly the newest of writers, and anyway, I was busy working a job and an internship while carrying a full-time undergraduate course load and also raising a small child. Eventually, the editor who had expressed an interest stopped being as interested and moved to The New Yorker instead, and I published the thing in the print issue of a far less well-known magazine. It happens. That story was not my mature work, it was written before I’d had a good long sit-down-and-think about the politics of my art and my person, and I’m sort of (read: very) relieved it doesn’t exist on the internet. So there’s that. But at AWP this past week, I went up and retold the story to the current n + 1 staffpersons …

How to Win Contests, and Why

So I’ve won some contests. This started at the tail end of undergrad, and has continued into the present day. In the past year, I’ve won contests at New Letters, Mid-American Review, and New Millennium Writings. I placed second at Wag’s Revue immediately before that magazine shut down forever, and placed third in Glimmer Train, which was a pretty sweet get. I’ve been a finalist often enough that I no longer remember how many times that’s happened and where. I am currently, so far as I can tell, in second readings rounds at a couple places, and will probably, G-d willing, win some more contests in the future. But I actually have some mixed feelings about contests, and this is as good a place as any to discuss those feelings. First off, what kind of work wins contests? Highly polished work, sure, and good work, yes, but I think there’s more to it than that. This summer I attended the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop. We ended up discussing contests during one workshop, and our instructor, …

Dealbreakers: Reasons I Vote Not to Accept a Story

Hello hello, Cady again. How are you? Want to hear something neat? My post from last month has garnered thirty-six comments (more actually, but some of those comments were unhelpful and got deleted) along with about 4700 views. Clearly y’all like to get the inside scoop on literary magazine submissions. That’s cool. Always happy to oblige. Especially because many of you, who started reading this blog for help with your MFA applications, are probably thinking about sending out those application stories. So the important lesson with submissions is not to be wasting your time and effort (and Submittable fees) the way I did in undergrad, throwing stuff at whatever literary magazines you’ve maybe heard of and seeing what sticks. Don’t submit the same story forever and tell yourself it’s getting turned down because you’re too innovative, or because you don’t have an MFA, or because the process is just so random. Probably none of these things are true in your case. Really. And more importantly, believing any of these things is a way to hurt …

Some Myths About Your Litmag Submissions

I read stories. A lot of them. I am the sole fiction editor for Reservoir, and I read (and edit copy) for Raleigh Review, an up-and-coming litmag founded by MFA alums from North Carolina State University. I’ve read for a couple other journals in the past, and been a preliminary reader for a couple of literary competitions in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry as well. I’m fairly sure this all added up to about two hundred stories last semester, from flash to novellas, and maybe another fifty poems, dozen essays, and thirty-five poetry collections. And sometimes I come across people online or in real life who have no insight into this process, a great many misconceptions as to how their work is being read. People who submit scattershot for years on end without success, or—and this is sadder to me—talented, sensitive writers too intimidated to submit at all. So let’s provide a little insight. Let’s clear up some misconceptions about submissions. Nobody gets published without an MFA.  This is simply not true, as demonstrated by my experiences …