How to Submit to Literary Journals

Perhaps you read our last post, and decided to try your hand at submitting to some of Descant’s top 10 summer writing contests. Perhaps you recently put to rest all of your cover letter woes with the help of PRISM’s fantastic tips. Or, perhaps you’re simply elated at how much easier it is to actually send in your submissions through online platforms such as Submittable

But no matter how much easier the submission process becomes, there remain those dark moments of indecision and anxiety. For all those nerve-wracking, hair-pulling, page-tearing episodes, Qwerty has your back with our very own ten-step guide to submitting to literary journals.

1. Open a browser tab for every single journal you ever remember hearing about. Consider discarding those that turn out to have been vacuum repair shops in Illinois all along.

2. Try to remember which tabs contain calls-for-submissions with deadlines. Gently console your calendar as you fill it with deadline reminders in condemning, bright red ink.

3. Open files containing every poem you have written, ever. If you keep your poems on paper, spread them all across the floor until you no longer recall what kind of flooring you began with.

4. Attempt to colour code and categorize. Spend a few hours deciding whether it is advisable to use more than one shade of blue. Ponder the entire literary history of the symbolism of the colour blue.

5. Return to your computer and begin reading submission guidelines. Repeatedly close the most promising tabs by accident.

6. Continue breathing, somehow, while your computer has a blue screen crisis. Reconsider the shades of blue you chose to colour-code your poems with.

7. Reboot your computer and browser tabs. Deal with your word processor’s multiple file recovery notices. Worry that you might have changed a single word in one poem or another, somewhere, and have now lost it forever.

8. Spend hours obsessively reading your worst poem. Subsequently, realize it has been over a decade since you first wrote it, and that you have been re-submitting it annually to various journals for just as long.

9. Take refuge. Become wholly absorbed in the minute details of baking cookies. Enhance your tea with whiskey (or inordinate amounts of sugar, if you prefer). 

10. Eat the cookies, slowly.

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