A friend of mine recently asked me to break down my submission process from A to Z. As I typed out a very long email, I realized just how much work I put into submitting on a regular basis. Writing is hard, but in many ways submitting is harder. How do you decide where to send your work? How do you keep track of how many submissions you've sent out? What should your manuscript look like? When should you query about a submission that's been out a long time? There are so many factors that go into submitting, it can be overwhelming.
But thankfully, a great number of resources exist for writers! Here is a list of websites you need to have bookmarked if you're just starting out sending your writing into the world, as well as some tips for using each of these valuable tools.
1. Submission Tracking Tools
Throw that spreadsheet out the door, it's time to get online. When I first started submitting, I tracked my submissions in a simple Word doc. I'd list the date, what pieces I sent out, and the title of the publication. However, once I figured out that submitting is a numbers game, this method quickly became too complex. Since then, I've streamlined my process and let me tell you it is magical.
Duotrope is a $50/year subscription service that allows you to keep track of your submissions to journals, magazines, and agents (now in beta mode) and also offers a wealth of useful tools, such as an upcoming deadline calendar, Stats on publication responses such as who has the slowest response rate (I'm looking at you, Ecotone) or who is the hardest to get into (currently held by Clarkesworld). I've found Duotrope to be immensely useful for finding out how long a journal normally takes to respond, when to query about a submission, finding journals that don't charge fees, and searching for new contests or anthologies.
Submission Grinder is a similar website for writers on a budget. It's entirely free to use and tends to skew heavily towards speculative markets. Recently, the Grinder added poetry markets, but I've found that because this is a new feature, the numbers are less accurate than Duotrope.
Query Tracker is similar to the Grinder and Duotrope, but for writers of novels who are seeking representation from an agent.
All of these services are user-generated, so you may find errors or discrepancies, but they're still a great way to track your submissions.
Once you've done the research and found a magazine that you want to send your poem, story, or essay to, you may encounter a Submittable form. It's a tool that magazines use to receive incoming submissions. It's free to use for writers, but generally charges a fee for magazines. When you read the guidelines, you'll see a big "submit here" button that takes you to a place where you can register for a free account. While most magazines are using Submittable these days, some still use email or paper submissions so it's a good idea to still keep track of your submissions in some other way.
What I love about Submittable is its "Discover" feature. This is another great tool for finding upcoming deadlines and contests.
3. William Shunn's Standard Manuscript Format
When a journal's guidelines call for "standard manuscript format" this is usually what they mean. Here you'll find templates for setting up your manuscript and guidelines for formatting. But of course, every journal has different rules. Always be sure to check the guidelines because many journals want anonymized or "blind" submissions and agents have their own requirements.
4. Publisher's Weekly
The classic standby, Publisher's Weekly, provides news, reviews, and statistics on the publishing world. If you're an author you'll want to check out the announcements page to see what books agents are picking up to help you get an idea of which agents to pitch.
5. Tools for Evaluating and Finding Magazines
Clifford Garstang's Literary Magazine Rankings is a great resource for tiering your submissions, i.e., creating a list of award-winning magazines to target. This website lists the magazines who received the most Pushcart Prizes.
New Pages provides listings of upcoming calls for submissions, contests, reviews of magazines, book reviews, bookstores, and other useful tips for writers. They also have a fairly robust e-mail newsletter.
The Review Review can help you figure out where to send a piece. Check out their reviews of literary journals and magazines. This can be helpful for writers who want to send their work out but don't have time to sit down and read every back issue of a journal.
Are you a speculative writer? You'll want to bookmark SFWA's list of current qualifying professional markets. Check out the SFWA membership, which allows you to vote in the Hugo Awards and gives you exclusive access to resources for science fiction and fantasy authors, such as an emergency medical fund, mentorship programs, networking and marketing, grants, and volunteer opportunities.
6. Calls for Submissions
I love Entropy Magazine's Where to Submit simple listing of upcoming submission calls, posted every other month. They also list residencies, fellowships, conferences, and other opportunities.
Follow Aerogramme Writers' Studio on Facebook and Twitter to receive updates on upcoming calls for submissions, residencies, conferences, contests, and other writer resources.
Another fantastic list of submission calls, Literary Mama's Blog has a monthly listing of upcoming deadlines.
If you like to get your market fix in print, subscribe to Poets & Writers magazine. Each issue contains a listing of upcoming opportunities for writers. The website is also a valuable source with many useful lists and databases.
For writers of novels, Manuscript Wish List provides a database of agents and editors and their "wish lists," or what themes and genres they'd love to see submitted.
If you're still looking for resources, you've landed in the right place. My gracious host Trish Hopkinson posts submission calls here on her blog and on her twitter feed, with a special focus on markets that publish poetry, don't charge submission fees, and that pay writers.
Do you have something say about poetry? An essay on being a poet, tips for poets, or poetry you love? TrishHopkinson.com is now accepting pitches for guest blog posts.
Holly Lyn Walrath's poetry and short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Fireside Fiction, Luna Station Quarterly, Liminality, and elsewhere. Her chapbook of words and images, Glimmerglass Girl, will be published by Finishing Line Press in 2018. She holds a B.A. in English from The University of Texas and a Master's in Creative Writing from the University of Denver. She is a freelance editor and host of The Weird Circular, an e-newsletter for writers containing submission calls and writing prompts. Find her online at www.hlwalrath.com or on Twitter @HollyLynWalrath.