Why You Should Submit to a Literary Magazine
I wrote a small handful of short stories in high school, but almost always for class. In fact, almost all the short stories I have written so far have been for creative writing, even though I regularly work on novels in my free time. I have 2 short stories published, one pending publication, and one novel published with one in the query process. Although both novels and short stories take up precious time to write, they actually are mutually beneficial more than mutually detrimental.
I’ve learned a lot about writing and my voice through short stories, especially with experimenting with points of view, tenses, subject matter, and styles (trying to write in another author’s style is both fun and informative—try it out). I’ve also learned a lot about dialogue, description and characterization through both novel writing and short story writing. The bonus is anything I learn about writing from one translates to another.
Short story publications are great to include on book query letters and book publications are great to include on short story submissions. Also its just cool to say you’ve been published and literary magazines are a great way to do it.
With short stories you can experiment and learn about being succinct. This includes giving brief but informative descriptions, short but effective character development, plot arcs in little words, etc. With novels you can learn about how to keep tension throughout the book but also how to increase and decrease it, character development with a broader set of characters, and commitment/consistency with writing as it takes more dedication to see a book through to completion.
Although much of this post has been about why you should write a short story, the next two points really emphasize why you should then publish said story.
Although you should likely have someone else (a critique partner, writer friend, etc) read over your story before you submit (after you have read and re-read and edited it, of course), the worst-case scenario for submitting is getting told it won’t get published. Best case, you get a publication to your name and potentially money in the bank.
It can help with the imposter syndrome. One hard thing about writing is going through most of the process without any feedback or reassurance. Getting a publication (while often subjective, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get accepted the first time) can help feel like you’re on the right track in your writing career (because, spoiler, you are).
As per Literary Magazines, specifically, most don’t have a reading fee (which is great if you are a starving artist- in fact many times reading fees can be scams). Also, they are published online which you can link to your blog or social media. Finally, they are easy to find (thanks google) and there are many genres and subgenres (such as undergraduate writers, flash fiction, etc).
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Check out my publications and some of the places I’ve submitted to here.