5 Tips for Getting Published in a Lit Mag

Most writers of short stories and essays follow a set pattern for getting their stories published – write, revise, find markets, submit. Writers often find themselves submitting stories only to receive endless rejections. There are a few additional measures that writers can adopt if they wish to increase their chances of acceptance into a literary journal of their liking:


  1. Target your story to the journal

This subverts the usual trend. Writers usually write stories and then find markets for them – I propose that you try the reverse. When you find a journal that you like, write a story seemingly as if it were only meant for that one magazine.


I came across the guidelines for GreenPrints journal, which features primarily gardening stories. I wrote a short story that centered on the relationship dynamic between two elderly men, one of whom was an enthusiastic gardener. My story was accepted and I received a cool $150 plus two complimentary copies.


  1. Read recent issues

Do not send a story to a journal if you have not read even a single issue of the magazine. To improve your chances, read at least two or three recent issues to get an idea of the style, tone and subject matter. This will help to identify if your work is an obvious misfit.


  1. Get your story critiqued

Join a critique group and send out your story. Actively seek out critiques from writers or editors only, and not relatives or friends who are more likely to simply respond that the story was ‘wonderful’.


The comments from fellow writers might spark new ideas and help fix the issues in your story. Listen to your instinct when reading the comments. Weigh them carefully, and if the changes do improve your story after multiple readings, apply them before sending.


  1. Send in a revised story

Do not send a first, second, or even a third draft. Set aside the story for at least a week. Then, when you return to it, make one pass through it for checking the plot (any inconsistencies, logical flaws etc.) and another to pick apart the writing. Eliminate clichés and make sure each sentence is as beautiful and original as it can be, while also being clear to the reader.



  1. Adhere to the guidelines

Editors provide submission guidelines because it makes it easier for them to read through the slush pile. It also simplifies the process for writers who harbor a hundred questions in their mind when submitting. Editors won’t turn away a good story if it doesn’t arrive in their prescribed format, but why risk irking them when following the rules doesn’t take much of our time.


Most journals pay at the time of publication. Here are a few paying journals that send out feedback along with their rejections:

Freeze Frame Fiction

They accept flash fiction and sometimes include themed issues. They include feedback from three different readers.



This is a market for science fiction, fantasy and horror.


Page & Spine

Editor N.K.Wagner is looking for poetry, fiction and even essays related to writing for a section called ‘The Writer’s Table’.


Spark: A Creative Anthology

Like Freeze Frame Fiction, they too include feedback from different readers.



They accept stories in the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres. Their rejections typically include a reason why a particular story did not work for them.


Remember that it’s our job to push our story to the top of the editor’s favorites list. Do submit to some of the venues listed above and share your tales of triumph!


Next week I’ll be honoured to host debut author Anne Goodwin! Her debut novel Sugar and Snails is being released this month. Do stop by – we’ll have a lot to learn from her guest post on fictional research!



Writing Resources

Over the last few years I’ve built up a set of links that help me with my writing in terms of advice as well as markets. Given below are a few of my go-to sites that sit prettily bookmarked in my browser:


Resources for Markets:


This is a veritable treasure trove of paying markets for your poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Updated daily, we report on editors and publishers who are actively seeking submissions, pay standard or competitive rates, and do not charge reading fees.


Aerogramme Studio

This website was established in Melbourne, Australia and publishes news and resources for emerging and established writers. Check out one of their recent posts for competitions of June and July 2015.


New Pages

An online database of literary journals of all stripes and hues. A worthy alternate for Duotrope which now requires a paid subscription.


Writer’s Relief Calls for Submissions and Contests

The classifieds section features a slew of listings for all kinds of writing, including competitions with and without entry fees.


Authors Publish

This relatively new zine for writers lists markets in every issue, including for publishers and small presses.


Speed up your writing output with these great posts:

1000 words a day by Mridu Khullar Relph

Mridu outlines a few concrete steps to achieve the target, which can easily be done by most of us.


How Writing 1000 Words a Day Changed My Life

An interesting perspective on the habit of writing regularly


How the Hell Buffer Creates So Much Content So Quickly

Though not directly related to creative writing, this offers a valuable look at how the team of writers and editors get their work done in record time.



Hope you found these useful! Do you have any favourite writing resources you’d like to share?