After months of re-writing and editing my short story Foiled, I was ready. I grabbed a cup of coffee and my Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market and I went to work. I scoured every literary magazine listing and marked the ones I thought would be perfect for my piece. With post it notes in hand, I began writing down tiny tidbits about the pubs I liked most because I’d heard over the years that I should know the market that I was pitching to. But knowing those markets takes a lot of time and research and it was mostly the time that I was missing. So I did what all writers do, I made time by staying up late and turning off the television set.
I found it virtually impossible to find a free literary magazine. I think this is mainly because many literary magazines are dependent on donations or they’re simply scraping by so they need charge $10 + dollars an issue. Sample issues still cost money and to a beginner without the necessary cash, it begins to add up. So, I improvised and read the recently published samples on their web site. I also read the submission guidelines. You must do this for every magazine. You don’t want to look like an amateur that doesn’t know how to follow the rules do you? You may even find information about deadlines, their magazine schedule and the names of specific editors. It’s called research.
There are literary magazines available at your local library or at independent bookstores. There are a ton of indie bookstores in Chicago, but this is and always will be my favorite:
1854 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
I narrowed down the thirty-five plus literary magazines I initially picked to ten according to the type of fiction they requested. I also took into consideration if they published short stories by writers that won either the Pushcart award or some other literary award. You never know who may be reading your work. And in some cases lit agents are using these magazines as a way to find new and upcoming writers. That’s definitely something you should keep in mind.
I wrote a very simple cover letter, pieced it together with my story and enclosed a SASE for their response. I chucked them in my backpack and took them to the point of no return — the U.S. Post Office.
As of today, October 6th, I’ve heard from one literary magazine telling me that they weren’t going to start reviewing fiction again until October 1st, 2006. I believe they received my story on September 26, 2006, so they’re obviously serious about their deadlines. I’m still waiting to hear from the other magazines, and I’m hoping for good feedback if my story is rejected. My fingers are crossed.
I realize that writing short stories will land me in the poor house and that if I continue to pursue it, it may sentence me to a life of eating beans from a can, but I like creative writing. I do. I’d rather put all of my money eggs into my books or articles basket, but I need the release.
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