The List: Literary Magazines

A list of literary magazines and journals in the UK.

Literary magazines publish fiction, poetry, criticism and other writing. They range from online blogzines to printed publications sold from university bookstores. The list below is a reasonably-comprehensive run down of magazines based in the UK.

If you’re an aspiring writer or poet it’s well worth submitting some of your writing to literary magazines. As well as gaining you a readership, they will help you get used to the publishing process and can be valuable credits if and when you decide to try and publish a full book or collection of your poems. Some magazines will even pay you for your work.

If you’re completely new to sending your work out for publication, you can check out a short guide to the process here. And if you live outside the UK, then we recommend Duotrope’s Digest – it requires a small monthly fee, but is a frequently-updated and reliable resource for discovering new markets.

Do you know of a UK literary magazine that I haven’t listed below? Tell me about it using the contact form!


A3 Review

Format: Print | Frequency: 2 x Per Year

The A3 Review is a literary magazine that folds out like a map, and publishes writing under 150 words. Published pieces are selected by means of a monthly competition.


Acumen

Format: Print | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

Publishes poetry and reviews. Acumen is long-established and well read.


Agenda

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

Publishes poetry and reviews. Agenda was founded in 1959 by Ezra Pound and William Cookson. It publishes regular anthology issues and occasional special issues that focus on just one poet.


Albedo One

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

Based in Ireland, this magazine is “Europe’s westernmost outpost” of science fiction writing. It publishes at least one Irish writer per issue, as well as work from writers around the world. They also publish reviews and interviews, and run the annual Aeon competition.


Algebra Of Owls

Format: Online | Frequency: 365 x Per Year

This “no frills” Yorkshire-based webzine updates on a daily basis with new poetry, and also promotes spoken word poetry events in the region. Every month a “Readers’ Choice” and “Editor’s Choice” prize are awarded.


Allegro Poetry

Format: Online | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

This online magazine publishes four issues each year, two of which are for general poetry and two of which follow a set theme. The editor is Sally Long.


Amaryllis

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

The poetry blog of Poetry Swindon. Publishes new material twice a week, every Monday and Thursday. Open to submissions from writers anywhere in the world.


Ambit

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry, artwork and reviews. Ambit has been around for more than forty years. It combines illustration and artwork with prose and poetry.


And Other Poems

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

The aim of this online literary magazine is to give readership to poems which would not otherwise be available: out of print or unavailable poems, poems published in print but not online, competition poems, and unpublished poems.


Anima Poetry

Format: Print | Frequency: 1 x Per Year

Seeks to publish “contemporary poems which dare to look beyond the materialist paradigm of mainstream western culture”. A new magazine, currently seeking submissions for its first edition.


Antiphon

Format: Online | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

This long-running online poetry magazine is dedicated to publishing the best in contemporary poetry, as well as reviews of books and pamphlets and articles about all aspects of poetry.


Arete

Format: Print | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry, reviews and articles. An arts journal. Publishes lots of commentary, reportage and critical articles.


Atavic Poetry

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

An online magazine which specialises in traditional and fixed-verse poetry, as well as poetry in translations, articles and essays. They welcome reviews of UK poetry events.


Bare Fiction

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

Despite the name this magazine publishes poetry, theatre and other forms of writing along with fiction. See the website for event listings and details of a planned competition.


Black & Blue

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

This eclectic magazine is looking for “drama, poetry, prose and other”. Its goal is to be a “fresh and vivid counterpoint to the conventional aspects of the literary world”. The editors are willing to give feedback on rejected submissions.


Black Static

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, artwork and reviews with a focus on horror. Originally published as The Third Alternative. TTA Press also publishes Interzone and Crimewave.


Brittle Star

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry and articles. Back issues of Brittle Star can be found online on the Poetry Library website.


Bunbury Magazine

Format: Online | Frequency: 6 x Per Year

An arts magazine with a strong bias towards creative writing. Each issue has a theme. Although the magazine has no official website, you can follow it on Facebook and Twitter.


Butcher’s Dog

Format: Print | Frequency: 2 x Per Year

A new biannual poetry magazine, founded in the North East of England by seven poets who each won a Northern Promise Award from New Writing North in 2010 or 2011.


Cake

Format: Print | Frequency:  1 x Per Year

Based in the English Literature and Creative Writing department at Lancaster University this magazine was set up by students in 2009. It features short fiction and poetry from anywhere in the world. Each issue is named after a different kind of cake.


Cannon’s Mouth

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

The Cannon’s Mouth is the quarterly journal of Cannon Poets. It aims to stimulate interest and encourage the participation of members and the wider community in the writing of poetry and its presentation to the public.


Clear Poetry

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

A free-to-read online poetry magazine, that aims to promote engagement with “accessible, approachable, astonishing” poetry. The editor also curates a yearly eBook anthology of the best poems from the site.


Compass

Format: Online | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

This online magazine comes out of North West England but is in no way restricted to that region. The tastes of the editors don’t adhere to a particular school and they aim to publish a range of quality poetries. The site also features news, reviews and articles.


Confluence

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

A creative writing magazine produced by live lit organisation Wordsmithery, based in Kent. Aims to publish an equal quantity of works from the Medway Delta and from the world beyond.


Crimewave

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, artwork and reviews. One of the UK’s few magazines dedicated to crime fiction. TTA Press also publishes Interzone and Black Static.


Dark Horizons

Format: Print | Frequency: 2 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry and artwork. The magazine of the British Fantasy Society. Only available to members.


Dawntreader

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

This fifty-two-page perfect bound literary publicaton has an international readership, and gives readers the “opportunity to let the imagination run free”. Produced by Indigo Dreams, who also administer a number of other literary magazines and chapbooks.


Dreamcatcher

Format: Print | Frequency: 2 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry, artwork adn reviews. Dream Catcher also runs various workshops and events in the East Midlands.


East Of The Web

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

Publishes fiction in all genres. One of the most widely-read online publications in the UK.


Envoi

Format: Print | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

Publishes poetry, reviews and articles. Established for more than fifty years. Cinammon Press also publishes anthologies and runs several competitions.


Far Off Places

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

A Scottish magazine which publishes fiction, poetry, drama and illustration, as well as hosting occasional events. Describes itself as “a magazine of written whimsy”.


Fiction Desk

Format: Print | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

The Fiction Desk publishes a regular anthology series dedicated to new short fiction, as well as running a number of other literary projects.


Firewords

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

A beautifully-illustrated literary magazine which aims to feature both powerful writing and bold design.


Fortnightly Review

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

A frequently-updated periodical featuring fiction, poetry and commentary which dates back to 1865, when it was founded by Anthony Trollope. It describes itself as “an editorial experiment”.


Foxglove

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

This online journal aims to be a haven for poetry and short fiction, featuring work that “thrills, comforts and stimulates”.


Frogmore Papers

Format: Print | Frequency: 2 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry and artwork. Frogmore Press also publishes several other titles and runs a poetry competition.


Fur-Lined Ghettos

Format: Print | Frequency: Unscheduled

A slim but exciting publication which features a wide range of genres and forms. An online sampler is available in addition to the printed issues.


Fuselit

Format: Print | Frequency: 6 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry and artwork. Each issue is themed around a “spur” word. Print issues are handmade in limited runs.


Gloom Cupboard

Format: Online | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry, non-fiction, artwork and reviews. International writers welcome.


Granta

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry, artwork and nonfiction. Long-established and well-read. Issues are generally based around a theme.


Here Comes Everyone

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

A Coventry-based magazine with an international readership. Each issue of Here Comes Everyone has a different theme, and the magazine aims to be accessible and supportive to both published and unpublished writers.


High Window

Format: Online | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

This online magazine publishes work in English by new and established poets from The UK and around the world. Alongside a lively and eclectic mix of poetry, each new issue contains an editorial, a literary essay, a selection of poems in translation, poetry reviews and occasional features.


Ink, Sweat & Tears

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

Publishes fiction and poetry. Their website states that “Ink Sweat & Tears explores the borderline between poetry and prose in the digital age”.


Interpreter’s House

Format: Print | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

A long-established literary magazine, which has now been published for more than thirty years. Features short fiction and poetry. Also runs a yearly poetry competition with a top prize of £500.


Interzone

Format: Print | Frequency: 6 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, artwork and review. One of the largest sci-fi magazines in the UK. TTA Press also publishes Black Static and Crimewave.


Iota

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry and reviews. Iota‘s main focus is on poetry, but it does publish occasional fiction issues.


Jupiter

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry and artwork with a focus on science fiction. Jupiter is available on Kindle. First published in 2003.


Liars’ League

Format: Online | Frequency: 12 x Per Year

Publishes fiction and nonfiction. Accepted pieces are read by actors at a monthly live fiction night.


Lighthouse

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

“We look to publish the best short fiction and poetry emerging from the UK writing scene.” This journal is run by Gatehouse Press (a publishing company based in Suffolk).


Litro

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 12 x Per Year

Publishes fiction. Over 100000 copies are distributed for free around the UK each month.


London Journal Of Fiction

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

This online magazine is a new platform for writers of fiction, poetry and literary essays. It aims to foster new talent and good writing, regardless of style or genre.


London Magazine

Format: Print | Frequency: 6 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry and reviews. One of the oldest literary magazines in the UK, founded in 1732.


Long Exposure

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

Long Exposure Magazine is dedicated to new voices, new ideas, and to seeing the world in different and innovative ways. This project aims to explore both the textual and the visual, bringing to light their dialogues and creative possibilities.


LossLit

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

This project attempts to explore the various influences of loss in literature, both by collating original fiction, poetry and essays, and by building a canon of important existing titles.


Lunar Poetry

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 12 x Per Year

A young but strong publication. The editors also publish a readable and enthusiastic blog, and put together podcasts and London-based launch events.


Magma

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

A long-running poetry magazine. Each issue of Magma is compiled by a different editor, and adhered to a different theme.


Misty Review

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

A magazine with a focus on “identifying breathtakingly beautiful words”. This new magazine is open to online submissions as well as applications from potential editors.


Monkey Kettle

Format: Print | Frequency: 2 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry and artwork. Based in Milton Keynes. Also produces records and runs events in the area.


Moth

Format: Print | Frequency: Quarterly

The Moth was launched at the Flat Lake Festival in June 2010 and is now winner of a DAA Arts Award. This Irish magazine publishes poetry, fiction and pictures from artists in Ireland and abroad.


Mslexia

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Publishes fiction and poetry. Publishes only writers who are female, but contains useful articles and entertaining work that can be enjoyed by either gender.


Neon

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry and reviews. Included here for the sake of completeness. Neon maintains this list of literary magazines.


New Fairy Tales

Format: Online | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry and artwork. Aims to publish new fairy tales, and is “passionate about good writing, beautiful illustrations, and sharing fantastic new work“.


New Walk

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

From October 2017 this international print journal of art, writing and review will be replaced by a series of pamphlets, available by subscription. During its run the magazine featured poets such as Andrew Motion and Alice Oswald.


New Welsh Review

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry, reviews and articles. New Welsh Review is concerned mainly with writing from Wales. Most feature articles are comissioned, but it is open to submissions of fiction and poetry.


Nottingham Review

Format: Online | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

A new British digital literary journal, publishing original short stories and flash fiction from around the world.


Obsessed With Pipework

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

A quarterly magazine founded in 1997, and prouduced by Flarestack Poets. The magazine aims to “surprise and delight”. Although it has a limited web presence, back issues can be browsed on the website of The Poetry Library.


Octavius Magazine

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

This literary magazine publishes short stories, drama, poetry and flash fiction written by students based in Scotland. It is open to any form or genre of writing.


Open Mouse

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

Originally developed as part of the Poetry Scotland site, The Open Mouse is now an independent online publication which features poems by writers from anywhere in the world.


Open Pen

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

An entirely free magazine that aims to “create a print movement that is interesting and relevant, and encourage the growth of London’s talented, fertile, literary underbelly”. Publishes fiction, articles and columns.


Orbis

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry and reviews. Primarily a poetry magazine. Welcomes suggestions for features in addition to prose and poetry.


Peeking Cat Poetry

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

This magazine publishes “a fusion of poetry and flash fiction written by people from all walks of life”. It believes that poetry should be accessible and a part of everyday life.


Picaroon Poetry

Format: Online | Frequency: 6 x Per Year

A web journal which publishes unthemed and eclectic poetry. The editor is seeking “rogue” poets, but has a fairly open definition of that term. Picaroon Poetry also occasionally publishes chapbooks.


Poetry London

Format: Print | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

Publishes poetry and reviews. Publishes contemporary poets alongside new voices. Runs a competition and regular readings.


Popshot

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

A fully-illustrated literary magazine that publishes short stories, flash fiction, and poetry from the literary new blood.


Prole

Format: Print | Frequency: Unscheduled

Prole is a print magazine that publishes high-quality, accessible poetry and prose. It aims to challenge, engage and entertain – but never exclude. The publisher, Prole Books, also produces chapbooks.


Quarterday Review

Format: Online | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

This magazine aims to publish outstanding poetry in multiple formats on the four traditional Celtic quarter days: Imbolc (February), Beltane (May), Lughnasagh (August) and Samhain (November).


Reach Poetry

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

This magazine has now been published for more than a decade, with a stunning two hundred issues in its archives. Features poetry. Produced by Indigo Dreams, who also administer a number of other literary magazines and chapbooks.


Rialto

Format: Print | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

Publishes poetry. Publishes established poets alongside emerging voices. Established in 1984.


Riptide

Format: Print | Frequency: 2 x Per Year

Publishes fiction. Seeks “short stories with an undercurrent”. Based in Exeter.


Rockland

Format: Print | Frequency: 26 x Per Year

This magazine takes the form of a wax-sealed scroll of new poetry and prose, distributed freely around London every fortnight.


Sarasvati

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Each successful contributor to this print magazine has three or four pages dedicated to their work – be that poetry or prose. Produced by Indigo Dreams, who also administer a number of other literary magazines and chapbooks.


Savage Kick

Format: Print | Frequency: 6 x Per Year

Publishes fiction. Seeks writing that displays “misery, joy, psychosis, hope, isolation, disgust…”


Scrittura

Format: Online | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

An online literary magazine founded in 2015 that aims to provide a home for exciting writers from across the world. Scrittura publishes prose, poetry and dramatic scripts.


Sein Und Werden

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry, reviews and artwork. An experimental literary magazine that seeks to explore the concepts of Expressionism, Surrealism and Existentialism.


Shoreline Of Infinity

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

This science fiction magazine wants stories that explore the uncertain future of the world, and play around with both big and little ideas.


Short Fiction

Format: Print | Frequency: 1 x Per Year

Publishes fiction. Published by University Of Plymouth Press. Also runs an annual short story competition.


Shots

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

Publishes fiction and reviews. A crime and thriller ezine.


Stand

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Publishes fiction and poetry. Established in 1952 by Jon Silkin. Has editorial offices at Leeds University and Virginia Commonwealth University in the USA.


Storgy

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

An online magazine dedicated to the literary short story. Built around a core group of dedicated writers, Storgy also accepts submissions and runs an annual competition.


Stride

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

Publishes fiction, poetry and reviews. Regularly updated online magazine that publishes an eclectic range of material.


Structo

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 2 x Per Year

This magazine publishes short stories, poetry, essays and interviews, and often features slipstream fiction and poetry in translation. Recent interviewees include Ursula K Le Guin and Margaret Atwood.


Tears In The Fence

Format: Print | Frequency: Unscheduled

An international magazine which publishes a variety of contemporary writers. It provides critical reviews of recent books, anthologies and pamphlets and essays on a diversity of significant modern and contemporary English and American poets.


The Letters Page

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

Produced by the School of English at the University of Nottingham, this journal publishes correspondence-themed writing, with the letter as its main form.


The Reader

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Established in 1997, The Reader features a mix of poetry, fiction , interviews, thought pieces, advice and research with a focus on shared reading as a therapeutic activity. Their goal is to make shared reading widely available across the UK.


The Red Line

Format: Online | Frequency: 6 x Per Year

A magazine based around a bi-monthly short story competition with a fifty pound cash prize. The overall winner is selected from a shortlist by a different group of judges each time.


Three Drops From A Cauldron

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

An online journal for poetry, flash fiction, or any hybrid of the two with a focus on myth, legend, folklore, fable and fairytale. The name of the journal comes from a legend about the legendary Welsh sorceress Cerridwen.


Thief

Format: Online | Frequency: 26 x Per Year

A micropublication produced by the international media charity Tribe, dedicated to poetry, haiku and very short fiction.


Thi Wurd

Format: Print | Frequency: Unscheduled

A fiction magazine based in Glasgow which aims to give an outlet to those who exist “outside the narrative”. The publisher also organises events.


Transect

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

A new magazine that aims to cut across human borders, eradicating boundaries between nations, ethnic/racial groups, languages and cultures.


Tribe

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

A multi-disciplinary arts magazine run by international media charity Tribe. Describes itself as “interested in the art of creativity, not the creativity of art“.


Under The Radar

Format: Print | Frequency: 2 x Per Year

The flagship publication of Nine Arches Press, Under The Radar features fiction, poetry, reviews and articles. The magazine was founded in 2008, and the press began publishing chapbooks and pamphlets shortly thereafter.


Valve

Format: Print | Frequency: Unscheduled

A literary journal dedicated to publishing new and experimental work. “Valve will always be a platform for poetry and fiction that doesn’t fit the mould“.


Visionary Tongue

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Publishes fiction and artwork. Established in 1995 by Storm Constantine. One of few regular British fantasy magazines.


Volume

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 2 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry and artwork. Creative magazine concerned with arts, music and fashion. Also publishes material online on the Volume blog.


Wasafiri

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Publishes fiction and reviews. Wasafiri has a strong international focus, publishing work with a background in many different cultures.


White Review

Format: Online & Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

The White Review publishes material both online and in print, with a focus on fiction and poetry that is “artistically or educationally meritorious”. It also runs an annual competition.


Whatscene

Format: Print | Frequency: 12 x Per Year

A free print publication focussed on life in East London and beyond. Publishes poetry online on its Facebook page, and may possibly feature it in print in the future.


Wildness

Format: Online | Frequency: 6 x Per Year

Seeks to publish poetry, prose, art and photography. A brand new journal, currently seeking submissions for the first edition.


3:AM

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

Publishes fiction, poetry and reviews. 3:AM Magazine publishes a wide variety of work. Its slogan is “Whatever it is, we’re against it”.


404 Ink

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

A new publication that aims to showcase incredible writing in an exciting and well-designed package. The publisher is funded by Creative Scotland, and has plans to bring out books as well as a literary magazine in the future.

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How To Identify A Vanity Publisher

A guide to avoiding vanity presses and dishonest publishers

Introduction

Image by Zsuzsanna Kilian

Vanity publishing is a slippery industry which, over its history, has given itself a number of different names. You might have come across “author service providers”, or “self-publishing consultancies”, or companies which refer to themselves as “subsidy” or “co-operative” presses. The one thing that many of these companies have in common is that they make their money by taking advantage of authors. Because they are in the business of deception, you’ll rarely find a vanity press that calls itself a vanity press – which is why that is the term that we’ll use in this guide.

Before explaining exactly how a vanity publisher operates, it might be useful to look at what a legitimate publisher does. A legitimate publisher identifies authors who it believes are producing promising work. It works with authors to produce books, which it will then market and promote, distribute to bookstores and sell online. It will edit. It will proofread. It will do everything it can to make its writers successful.

Vanity publishers will do very few of the same things that legitimate publishers do. Vanity publishers will accept the work of anyone. They will charge authors to have their book printed, and then make no effort to promote the finished product. They will sell copies of the book to the author, and pressure the author to sell to their family and friends.

  • Legitimate publishers make money by selling books to the general public.
  • Vanity publishers make their money by selling publishing services to unwary authors.

Continue reading

Excel Submissions Tracker

A spreadsheet designed to track your submissions using Excel

{ Click Here To Download The Submissions Tracker }

When sending out your work for possible publication it can sometimes be difficult to keep track of what has been sent where. To help with this, we’ve put together a simple Excel spreadsheet which you can download and use to track submissions. Excel is more flexible than you might think – a few features of our spreadsheet are listed below. It is, of course, intended only as a starting point. Feel free to adapt the spreadsheet to suit your own needs.

The file above comes preloaded with some example entries. Just delete them when you’re ready to start using it. Rows are colour-coded according to the entry in the “Response” column – so rejected submission are highlighted in red, withdrawn submissions in grey and accepted ones in green. You might also notice that if the date by which you are expecting a reply to your submission has passed, the entry in that column will turn red, allowing you to instantly see if you should send a query.

It’s best to enter submissions in the order you send them. If you wish to take a look at the record for a particular story or market all you have to do is navigate to the “Data” tab, and then click “Filter”. You’ll then be able to use a drop-down menu from each column to select which records you wish to see.

This spreadsheet was made using Microsoft Excel 2007, and should be compatible with this and all more recent versions of the program. Let us know if you find it useful – or if you have suggestions about how it could be improved – by leaving a comment below.

The List: Writing Links

A list of useful online resources and software for writers

Listed here are a number of online resources that should be of use to writers. Resources range from online dictionaries to software that might help you organise or backup your writing. I’ve also listed some books that any aspiring author should at least take a look at.

For ease of use this list is divided into sections, with the links organised accordingly. Most of the links are UK-based, but all should be relevant to writers from any country. Except where indicated, all of these resources are free to access and use. I have only included paid resources that I am certain are worth the money they cost to access.

If you can think of a resource for writers that might be at home on the list, please drop me an email.

Spelling, Punctuation And Grammar


A Guide To Punctuation

An online textbook covering all aspects of punctuation use, with clear explanations and examples for each.


Oxford Dictionaries

The online presence of “The world’s most trusted dictionaries“. The site allows you to look up words in English and other European languages.


Reverse Dictionary

An online dictionary with a search function that allows you to enter a definition or concept and locate a suitable word for it. For example, a search for “barrel maker” leads to the word “cooper”.


Urban Dictionary

A comprehensive and surprisingly up-to-date guide to slang. An international user-edited resource. Although somewhat crass at times it is often the quickest way to find the meaning of a new slang word.


Writing Guides And Tools


Descriptive Thesauri

The Bookshelf Muse provides a variety of useful thesauri. The aim is to help you diversify your descriptions of everything from emotional states to the weather.


Feedback


Tethered By Letters

This organisation offers a free professional editing service to its active members. After joining and participating you can send in one piece at a time. TBL’s team of professional editors aim to polish your work with an eye to publication.


Critique Circle

This free website revolves around the exchange of critiques on pieces of writing. By providing feedback on other people’s work you earn credits, which can then be used to post up your own work for critique.


Publishing


Agent Hunter

A comprehensive, sortable database of UK literary agents and publishers. Requires a small yearly fee, but is one the best resources available for finding a literary agent.


Duotrope’s Digest

A comprehensive listing of literary magazines and small presses. Frequently updated and with in-depth statistics. One of the best ways to discover new publications. Requires a monthly fee.


Manuscript Formatting

William Shun provides a comprehensive guide to formatting all different kinds of manuscripts, including templates and printable examples.


Predators And Editors

An excellent resource that lists agents and publishers and flags up those that might be less than reputable, as well as listing outright scams.


Ralan

A directory of publishers and literary magazines, with a particular focus on genre writing. Regularly updated, and carries listings organised into paying and non-paying categories.


Software


Calibre

A powerful and comprehensive ebook library manager. Allows you to store, convert and edit most formats of ebook on your computer. Free and open source.


Celtx

A free suite of software including a scriptwriting package and several media pre-production tools. Most likely to be of use to screenwriters.


Dark Room

A minimalist “writing environment” free from some of the distractions provided by more fully-featured word processors. Allows you to focus entirely on what you are writing.


Dropbox

This service provides free online storage, and allows you to access your files from any computer. Excellent for making backups.


Google Docs

An online word processor. Useful for saving your documents so that they can be accessed from several computers, or collaborating remotely with others.


Open Office

A freeware alternative to Microsoft products. WRITER (part of the Open Office suite of programs) is a fully-featured word processor.


Scribus

An open-source desktop publishing program. Very versatile and easy to use, although it still suffers from some bugs and errors.


Scrivener

A writing programme that allows you to organise chapters and research materials with ease. Available to try for thirty days, but thereafter requires a one-off payment.


WordPress

A blog publishing platform. You will require your own web hosting in order to use this software. Various plugins make this a very versatile tool.


Research


Wikipedia

A free online encyclopaedia. Useful for research, although it is important to remember that articles may be edited by anyone and as such are not always reliable. It is worth checking sources before using any information.


Books


On Writing

A guide to writing by best-selling author Stephen King. Provides straightforward, practical advice about writing, as well as a partial autobiography of King himself.


The Elements Of Style

Invaluable and concise tips on how to write in a clear and focussed fashion. Essential reading for all writers, although much of the advice within applies more to essay writing than it does to fiction or poetry.


Writing Without Teachers

A sensible discussion about the best way to run a writers’ workshop, along with an introduction to freewriting and a complete theory on writing.


The Writers’ And Artists’ Yearbook

Lists many publications and publishers to be found in the UK. The first stop for any writer looking to publish their work. A new edition is brought out every year.

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The List: Writing Competitions

A list of UK-based writing competitions.

Listed below are a number of writing competition based in the UK. Entering short story and poetry competitions can be a good way to get your work noticed, and may help when it comes time to approach editors about publishing a book. Book prizes, meanwhile, can boost sales, especially for debut authors; you’ll notice that several of the prizes below are for first books or first collections.

Some (indeed, most) competitions charge an entry or “reading” fee. Is is their nature that every entrant pays, but only a few are rewarded. It’s worth looking at the costs involved and weighing them against the potential benefits before you decide that entering competitions is the right move for you.

It can be discouraging too that only a few winners emerge from all the entries submitted. Some competitions draw up longlists and shortlists before deciding on the final winners, and appearing on one of these can be valuable even if you don’t win outright.

The awards and prizes listed here are all based in the UK, but many can be entered by writers from abroad as well. If you know of any that I’ve missed, please get in touch and let me know. Also you may wish to consider taking a look at Neon‘s calendar of literary events and deadlines – you’ll find the closing dates of many of the competitions below marked out there.


Authors’ Club First Novel Award

Top Prize: £2500 | Categories: Novel | Deadline: Unknown

Awarded to the most promising novel issued by a British publisher in the previous year. This prize is administered by the Authors’ Club. “From its inception in 1954, the award has gone to writers who have subsequently enjoyed distinguished careers, including Brian Moore for The Lonely Passion Of Judith Hearne, Alan Sillitoe for Saturday Night And Sunday Morning and Paul Bailey for At the Jerusalem.”


Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize

Top Prize: €10000 | Categories: Poem | Deadline: December

This international prize is open to everyone, and awards large sums for the three best unpublished poem submitted each year. It is run by The Moth Magazine, with winners published in the magazine and invited to special prize-giving event at the Ballymaloe Literary Festival Of Food And Wine.


Bare Fiction Competitions

Top Prize: £500 | Categories: Short Story / Poem / Flash | Deadline: Unknown

A yearly set of competitions administered by the literary magazine Bare Fiction. There are prizes in each category, and the winners are published in an issue of the magazine. Different guest judges are bought in each year to pick the winners.


Bath Short Story Award

Top Prize: £1000 | Categories: Short Story | Deadline: May

An international competition that welcomes stories of up to 2200 words on any theme or subject from published or unpublished writers. The prizes available are £1000 for 1st place, £200 for 2nd place, and £100 for 3rd place, as well as a local prize and a special award for the best story by an unpublished writer.


BBC Short Story Prize

Top Prize: £15000 | Categories: Short Story | Deadline: March

One of the most significant short story competitions in the UK, this prize is awarded yearly by the BBC. Entrants must have a record of previously published work in the UK. “The ambition of both the Award and Booktrust’s short story content is to expand opportunities for British writers, readers and publishers of the short story.”


Betty Trask Prize And Awards

Top Prize: Up to £20000 | Categories: Novel | Deadline: Rolling

Given to writers under the age of thirty-five, for a first novel in the traditional or romantic genres. The prize varies year by year, and must be used for foriegn travel. “Betty Trask left a bequest to the Society of Authors in 1983 to fund a prize for first novels written by authors under the age of thirty-five in a romantic or traditional, but not experimental, style.”


Bridport Prize

Top Prize: £5000 | Categories: Short Story / Flash / Poem | Deadline: May

A prestigous annual competition with different strands for short stories, flash fiction and poetry. As well as the first place prize money there are several supplementary awards, including one for writers based in Dorset.


Bristol Short Story Prize

Top Prize: £1000 | Categories: Short Story | Deadline: May

 An international short story competition opened to published and unpublished writers anywhere in the world. Winners are published in an annual anthology in addition to receiving prize money. “The Bristol Short Story Prize aims to publish great short stories and promote the stories and writers as much as possible.”


Chicken House

Top Prize: Publication | Categories: Novel | Deadline: December

This energetic children’s publisher runs a yearly competition for new writers. Manuscripts must be aimed at the 7-18 age range, and should be sent in full. The competition is sponsored by The Times newspaper.


Cinnamon Press

Top Prize: £1000 | Categories: Novel / Short Story / Poem / Collection | Deadline: Varies

This small, independent publisher based in Wales runs yearly competitions to find work in a variety of different genres worth publishing. Most competitions are restricted to previously-unpublished writers, and require payment of an entry fee.


Commonwealth Prizes

Top Prize: £10000 | Categories: Novel / Short Story | Deadline: Unknown

Two competitions run by Commonwealth Writers, designed to reward and promote the best new writing from across the Commonwealth. There is an award for short stories and a separate award for books. In addition to the top prize in each category, further regional prizes are also awarded.


Costa Awards

Top Prize: £30000 | Categories: Novel / Short Story | Deadline: July

A series of book and short story awards for authors from the UK and Ireland (previously known as the Whitbread Book Awards). One of the only UK awards open to children’s books as well as adult. The short story strand is narrowed down by judges and then decided by a popular vote.


Eric Gregory Awards

Top Prize: £24000 | Categories: Collection | Deadline: March

This annual award for poets under the age of thirty has prize money totalling £24000, which is split among the recipients. It is given for submitted poetry collections either published or unpublished. “The Eric Gregory Awards, for a collection by poets under the age of 30, were founded in 1960 by the late Dr Eric Gregory for the encouragement of young poets.”


Encore Award

Top Prize: £10000 | Categories: Second Novel | Deadline: November

A £10000 prize – sponsored by Lucy Astor – for the best second novel published in the UK. “The award fills a niche in the catalogue of literary prizes by celebrating the achievement of outstanding second novels, often neglected in comparison to the attention given to promising first books.”


Fish Publishing Contests

Top Prize: £3000 | Categories: Short Story / Flash / Poem / Memoir | Deadline: Varies

These yearly competitions have been run by Fish Publishing since 1994. They are open to writers of any nationality writing in English. The best ten pieces in each category are published in an anthology. Entry fees for each category are significant, and there is a paid critique service available.


Forward Poetry Prize

Top Prize: £10000 | Categories: Collection / First Collection / Poem | Deadline: Unknown

The largest annual poetry competition in the UK, this prize rewards the best collection, best first collection, and best single poem in the UK each year. All works put forward for the prize will also be considered for publication in The Forward Book Of Poetry, a yearly anthology. Entries must be published works, and individual poets cannot enter their own work.


Hawthornden Prize

Top Prize: £10000 | Categories: Novel / Book | Deadline: N/A

Seeks to reward authors of imaginative literature. One of Britain’s oldest literary prizes, it is awarded annually, though there have been some years without an award in the past. “There is no competition; books do not have to be, and in fact cannot be, submitted. A panel of judges decides the winner.”


Impress Prize For New Writers

Top Prize: Publication | Categories: Novel | Deadline: July

The prize was created to discover and publish new writing talent. Entries to the prize are assessed by the Impress team each year and a shortlist produced from which a panel chooses the winner. The winner of the prize is offered a publishing contract with Impress books with the aim of publishing the book in the year following the award.


James Tait Black Memorial Prize

Top Prize: £10000 | Categories: Book / Drama | Deadline: December / January

Awarded to the author of a work of fiction, biography or drama published in Britain during the past year. One of the most established prizes in the UK. “They are the only awards of their kind to be presented by a university and have acquired an international reputation for recognising excellence.”


Kent & Sussex Poetry Society Open Competition

Top Prize: £1000 | Categories: Poem | Deadline: January

Run each year by the Kent & Sussex Poetry Society. A top prize of £1000 and several runner-up prizes. The judge for 2012 and 2013 was Daljit Nagra. Open to anyone aged sixteen and over, and seeking poems that are not published or due for publication anywhere.


London Magazine Competitions

Top Prize: £300 | Categories: Poem / Short Story | Deadline: May / October

The London Magazine‘s annual competitions seek to recognise new talent, and promote unpublished poems and stories from around the world. This prestigious magazine has previously been home to Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, Christopher Reid, and Helen Dunmore among others. Winners are invited to a London-based networking drinks reception.


Magic Oxygen Literary Competition

Top Prize: £1000 | Categories: Short Story / Poem | Deadline: December

This new prize awards up to £1000 to the best story or poem submitted. In addition the organisers have pledged to plant a tree in Kenya for every entry received. Stories may be up to 4000 words and poems up to 50 lines, and entries are accepted from writers anywhere in the world.


Manchester Writing Competition

Top Prize: £10000 | Categories: Short Story / Poem | Deadline: September

This competition previously alternated between fiction and poetry each year, but is now open to both. It is run by the Manchester Writing School, under the direction of Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy. The compeition was founded in 2008, and is open to anyone over the age of sixteen.


Mogford Food And Drink Prize

Top Prize: £10000 | Categories: Short Story | Deadline: January

This annual prize is open worldwide. Sponsored by the Mogford Hotels And Restaurants Group, it seeks to reward the writer of a short story not longer than 2500 words which revolves in some way around food. The judges this year are Philip Pullman and Mary Berry.


Moth Short Story Prize

Top Prize: €1000 | Categories: Short Story | Deadline: June

This annual competition is run by The Moth Magazine, and in addition to the sizeable first prize boasts a second prize of a week-long retreat at Circle of Misse in France. Winning and specially commended entries usually appear in the magazine.


Orwell Prize

Top Prize: £3000 | Categories: Journalism / Blog / Book | Deadline: January

An annual prize for political writing. There are awards each year for the blog, the piece of journalism and the book that most embody Orwell’s ambition to “make political writing into an art”. This prestigious competition is now entering its twenty-first year.


RSL Ondaatjee Prize

Top Prize: £10000 | Categories: Novel / Book / Collection | Deadline: December

An annual award administered by the Royal Society for Literature which goes to the work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry that judges feel best evokes the spirit of a place. All prize winners also receive a paperweight clock, which they are awarded at a celebratory dinner.


Sean O Faolain Short Story Competition

Top Prize: £1700 and Publication | Categories: Short Story | Deadline: Unknown

Winners are published in Southword. Previous prizes have also included a week-long residency and an expenses-paid trip to the Cork International Short Fiction Festival. “The Sean O Faolain Short Story Competition […] is dedicated to one of Ireland’s most accomplished story writers and theorists, sponsored by the Munster Literature Centre.”


Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award

Top Prize: £30000 | Categories: Short Story | Deadline: June

One of the most valuable short story prizes in the UK. “The Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Award honours the finest writers of short stories in the UK and Ireland. Worth £30,000 to the winning author, it is open to anyone with a previous record of publication in creative writing in the UK or Ireland.”


TS Eliot Prize

Top Prize: £15000 | Categories: Collection | Deadline: August

Awarded annually for the best collection of verse published in the UK or Ireland. One of the most prestigious British poetry prizes. This prize is administered by the Poetry Book Society and supported by the estate of reknowned poet TS Eliot, after whom it is named.


VS Pritchett Memorial Prize

Top Prize: £1000 | Categories: Short Story | Deadline: Unknown

An annual prize administered by The Royal Society Of Literature for the best unpublished short story of the year. Winners are published in Prospect online and the RSL Review. The prize was founded to commemorate writer and critic Sir Victor Sawden Pritchett.


Wasifiri New Writing Prize

Top Prize: £300 and Publication | Categories: Short Story / Poem / Memoir | Deadline: Unknown

This newly-established prize (first run in 2009) is administered by British literary magazine Wasifiri, in which the winners of each category are published. “The competition is open to anyone worldwide who has not published a complete book in their chosen category.”


Waverton Good Read Award

Top Prize: £1000 | Categories: Novel | Deadline: August

This award is judged collectively by the residents of a village in Cheshire, who read a number of debut novels by UK-based authors published in the previous year and decide which they like the most.  The winner’s name is also engraved on a trophy, which remains in the village.


White Review Short Story Prize

Top Prize: £2500 | Categories: Short Story | Deadline: March

This annual short story competition is aimed at emerging writers. It awards £2,500 to the best piece of short fiction by a writer resident in the UK and Ireland who has yet to secure a publishing deal. “The judges will be looking for short stories that explore and expand the possibilities of the form. We encourage submissions from all literary genres, and there are no restrictions on theme or subject matter.


Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook Competition

Top Prize: Course and Publication | Categories: Short Story | Deadline: February

A free-to-enter short story competition, with a first prize which includes a place on an Arvon Residential Writing Course (valued at approximately £1000) and online publication. Entries must be original, aimed at adults, and no longer that 2000 words in length.


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How To Submit Your Writing To Literary Magazines

A guide to publishing your work in literary magazines and journals

Introduction

Submissions Guide Intro Image

This article is designed to be a complete and thorough guide for anyone who is interested in having their short story or poem published in a literary magazine, but doesn’t know where to start. You’ll probably find it most useful if you’ve never sent out your work before, or if you’re just beginning to try and get published.

This guide is also quite specific to literary magazines. If you’re looking to publish an article, interview, review or feature then the process is quite different. If however it’s a short story, poem or other piece of creative writing that you want to publish, read on!

Step 1: Find A Suitable Publication

Duotrope is an excellent resource for finding suitable markets.

The first step is to find a magazine that you’d like to be published in, and which publishes the kind of thing you write. There are thousands of different literary magazines in the world, and each has its own unique tone and style. Familiarising yourself with a magazine by reading a few back issues greatly increases your chances of being able to publish your work there – and also helps support the magazine itself! If you can’t afford to buy a copy of the magazine, many have samples available to read for free on their websites.

To help you find the right magazine for your work, there are a number of resources available. Duotrope’s Digest is by far the most comprehensive – for a small monthly fee you get access to a searchable database of over 2000 different literary magazines. Ralan.com, PoetryKit and Neon‘s own list of UK-Based magazines are also worth browsing.

Step 2: Read And Follow The Guidelines

Once you have found a magazine that publishes the kind of work you write, you should look for the magazine’s guidelines. These will usually be on a page on the magazine’s website, or printed in the magazine itself. By reading the guidelines you can find out things like maximum or minimum wordcounts, and the format in which the editor would like to receive your work.

There’s some language which might be a little unfamiliar to you that crops up often in guidelines pages. Here’s a brief glossary:

  • “Simultaneous Submissions” – This refers to the practice of sending out the same story or poem to several magazines at once. A lot of publishers are happy for you to do this, but some will ask for no simultaneous submissions – if you send them your work, then you should wait for a reply from them before sending it anywhere else.
  • “Withdrawal” – If you do send your work out to several magazines at once, and it is accepted by one of them, you’ll need to withdraw it from the other markets. This is usually done by sending an email, and is covered in more detail later on.
  • “Multiple Submissions” – This refers to the practice of sending more than one story or poem to the same magazine. Some magazines want to receive more than one piece at once, while others would prefer to only read one at a time.
  • “Reprints” – Reprints are stories or poems that have been published before. Most magazines want previously unpublished work, but some are happy to take reprints.

A Note About Rights

Submissions Guide Your Rights Image

Sometimes the guidelines will state the rights that the magazine takes to your work. Right are not the same thing as copyright. As the creator you own the copyright to your own work by default. You can however give other people rights to do things with your work. Here’s a glossary of what different rights-related terms mean:

  • “First” – This is the right to be the first publisher to publish the piece of writing in question.
  • “Serial” – This is the right to publish the piece of writing in question in printed form in a magazine.
  • “Online / Electronic” – This is the right to publish the piece of writing in question on a website, or as an eBook download.
  • “North American / British / World” – The inclusion of a territory indicates the area in which the piece will be published. If a publisher takes North American rights, they may only publish the piece in North America – they cannot then pass it to the British arm of their organisation and publish it there too.
  • “One-time” – This indicates that the right will only be exercised once. If the publisher wants to reprint the piece in a “best of” collection they would have to seek your permission again.
  • “Archival” – This is the right to store the work and make it available in the magazine archives. This means that even when the issue of the magazine in which your work appears is no longer current, it will still be available in their archives.
  • “Non-exclusive / Exclusive” – Exclusive rights are just that – exclusive. If a publisher wants exclusive online rights, that means they want to be the only ones to publish that piece online. If a publisher specifies that they take non-exclusive rights, then they are happy for the piece to appear elsewhere as well.
  • “Anthology” – This is the right to print the piece in an anthology or collection. A publisher might ask for this right in addition to others if they are considering publishing a “best-of” collection at the end of the year.
  • “Audio / Film” – These rights are self explanatory. Audio rights grant the publisher the right to make an audio recording – the same for film.

So, for example, a publisher that asks for “first North-American serial rights, electronic rights and audio rights” wants to be the first magazine in North America to print the work, and also be allowed to publish it online and in an audiobook format.

Step 3: Format Your Work

Submissions Guide Format Work Image

In general, when formatting your work, you should do what the guidelines say. If the magazine would prefer work to be pasted into the body of an email, do that. If they ask for attachments, send an attachment. If they want a particular font or type size, then use that font of type size.

If, however, the guidelines provided by the magazine have nothing to say about how you should format your work, you can use standard manuscript format.

Rather than providing a long description of standard manuscript format, I’ll instead refer you to the expert. William Shunn is the definitive source on manuscript preparation, and on his site you’ll find easy-to-follow instructions on how to format your work. Here’s are some quick links:

Short story manuscript format

Poetry manuscript format

It may seem like a lot of work getting your manuscript looking like the examples provided by Shunn, but it’s worth the effort. It makes it easier for an overworked editor to read, and makes it look professional. Often editors will discard without reading manuscripts that deviate wildly from the formula, so it’s worth taking a few minutes to get things right.

A Few Odds And Ends

Submissions Guide Odds And Ends Image

There’s an almost limitless number of different ways for magazines to accept submissions, and so you won’t always simply be sending an email attachment. Here are some guidelines for a few different situations which you might come across.

Pasting Into The Email Body

A few magazines will ask you to paste your work into the main body of the email, rather than sending it as an attachment. This is easy to do, but can cause problems. Your perfectly-formatted manuscript can end up looking a mess once you’ve transferred it to an email.

To prevent this, copy and paste the text from your manuscript into Notepad (or another basic text editor). Then copy and paste it again from there into the email. This strips away unnecessary formatting, and ensures a clean and tidy result. You might need to play around with the spacing while you have the text in Notepad, but this little extra effort is very much worth the result.

Postal Submissions And The SASE

Magazines that take submissions only by post are now relatively rare, but some of the bigger magazines still insist on it. Here are some pointers for a clean, easy-to-manage postal submission. Again, if the magazine has its own guidelines on how to send your postal submission, follow those! Use the guidelines below if they don’t provide any guidance of their own.

  • Don’t fold the manuscript. Pick an envelope big enough to accommodate it without folding.
  • Don’t staple or bind your manuscript. Secure the pages together with a paperclip.
  • Include a self-addressed envelope. If you want your manuscript returned the envelope must be big enough, and have sufficient postage. If you don’t want your manuscript returned, then say so in your cover letter – you can then include a smaller envelope for the editor’s response only.

Submittable And The CLMP Submissions Manager

There are a few common programmes that magazines use to handle submissions. Submittable is by far the most common submissions handler in use at the moment. It’s very user-friendly and intuitive, and you only need to create one account to be able to submit to all the magazines that use it. Submittable has functionality to allow you to withdraw work if necessary, keeps track of all your submissions, and allows you to check on their status as often as you like.

The CLMP Submissions Manager is the second most common submissions handler in use at the moment. Again, it’s relatively easy to use. You will need to create an account for each magazine you want to submit to.

Step 4: Write A Cover Letter

ubmissions Guide Cover Letter Image

Your cover letter should be short and to the point. If you can, you should address the editor by name (look for a “Masthead” to find a list of the staff at a publication). Mention that you’re submitting some work, and include the title, wordcount and if it is a reprint. Mention if you are submitting simultaneously.

If you are submitting by post, the letter should be on its own sheet of paper, separate from the manuscript, and should be laid out like a proper letter. If you’re sending by email, put the cover letter in the body of the email.

Here’s an example of an ideal cover letter:

Dear [MR or MS] [EDITOR’S NAME],

Please find attached for your consideration my previously-unpublished, [WORDCOUNT]-word short story “[STORY TITLE]”. This is a simultaneous submission, but I will let you know immediately if it is accepted elsewhere.

Thanks in advance for your time.

Sincerely,

[YOUR SIGNATURE]

And that’s it! Simple, straightforward, clear. It’s best to aim for a relatively boring cover letter. Don’t try and sell your writing (let it sell itself), and don’t use fancy fonts or annoying gimmicks. If you like you can include a few words about how you discovered the magazine, or what you like about it in your cover letter. Steer clear of flattery though.

Your Biography

Submissions Guide Biography Image

Many magazines ask for a brief biography to accompany your work. You can include this in your cover letter. A few magazines have guidelines about what they want in your bio, but most leave it entirely up to you.

Generally speaking a bio should be around fifty to one hundred words long. It should be written in the third person. You can include information about where you’re from, if you’ve had work published in literary magazines before, where you have studied or what you do for a living.

If you’re really stuck for ideas, grab a copy of the literary magazine to which you’re submitting and have a look at the biographies of the current crop of writers.

Step 5: Send Your Submission

Submissions Guide Send Image

Once you’ve assembled all the different parts of your submission – manuscript, cover letter, biography and so on – there’s nothing left to do but take a deep breath and send it off.

Step 6: Keep Records, Query

Submissions Guide Keep Records Image

Once you’ve sent off your manuscript, make a note of where you sent it, when you sent it, and when you expect to hear a reply. Keeping records is essential if you plan on sending out a lot of work. It means that you won’t end up sending duplicate submissions, and will be able to follow up when necessary.

One good way of keeping track is to use an Excel spreadsheet. It might take a few minutes to learn how to filter or sort your entries, but once you’ve gotten used to the software you’ll be amazed at how efficient it is.

Here are a few of the different outcomes you can expect when you’re trying to get published.

  • Acceptance – Great! The editor liked your work, and you’ve been accepted for publication. You’ll probably have to sign a contract or agree to some terms, but you should at some point receive either monetary payment or a copy of the magazine. Congratulations!
  • Rejection – Unfortunately, on this occasion, your work wasn’t right for the magazine. Don’t be discouraged. Keep writing, and keep sending your work out. Persistence is key to success.
  • Nothing – If you don’t hear back from a magazine, don’t take it personally. They receive a huge number of submissions every day, and some can’t respond to them all. If the magazine specifies an average response time in their guidelines you should wait until that time has passed, then send a polite email to check on the status of your submission.

A Few Final Words

Submissions Guide Final Words Image

And lastly, a few general pieces of advice to help keep you sane as you seek publication:

  • Don’t give up – It can be discouraging to receive rejection after rejection, but keep going. If you stop sending your work out, you’ll never be published.
  • Don’t get mad – A rejection doesn’t mean that your work is no good, just that it wasn’t right for that particular magazine. Don’t get wound up when your work is turned down.
  • Take criticism – If an editor offers you some feedback when they respond to your submission, you should probably listen. The fact that they took the time to respond personally is a very good sign.
  • Keep writing – Above all, keep writing. Keep improving the things you’ve written. Keep coming up with new ideas. That’s what this is all about, after all.