On Submitting Your Writing for Publication [Adele’s Advice]

This is a column by Adele Annesi. 

What should I know about submitting my work for publication?

Over the past months, we’ve considered how to prepare your writing for publication and how to research where to send it. Among the best places are literary journals and magazines, which publish a variety of author profiles, book reviews, essays, interviews, letters, literary criticism, poetry, and short and very short (flash) fiction. The journals’ websites specify the genres they seek, and most magazines make it easy to submit work. Two keys to having your writing considered are getting to know the publication and following the submission guidelines:

  1. Genre: See if the publication considers writing in your genre, and adhere to the parameters. For example, if the journal says “no erotica”, they mean it.
  2. Deadlines and Reading Periods: Many journals now set deadlines and reading periods by genre. Work submitted after the deadline or outside the reading period won’t be considered.
  3. Submission Methods: Most publications have an online portal, such as Submittable. Others direct writers to an email address. Use whichever method the publication specifies.
  4. Formatting: For publications that still require email submissions, the guidelines page will specify whether to attach your work, for example, as a Word document, or include it in the body of your email. Online portals usually require the upload of a specified file type.
  5. Fees: Whether they’re called reading or processing fees, the recent trend is for literary journals to require a fee to submit work. Since a number of journals don’t charge, it’s up to you to decide whether you feel the journal is worth investing in and/or your work has a good chance of being accepted.
  6. Contests: Most contests require an entry fee. As with other fees, it’s your decision as to whether you feel the fee is worth what the contest offers. As a note, some contests include perks even for writers whose work isn’t accepted for publication. Read the fine print to decide whether the offering is worth the fee.
  7. Print, Online, or Both: Some literary magazines are e-zines, meaning they’re online only. Few are print-only; most have a presence on the web and in print. The better journals have at least one annual print publication, but pay attention to where your submission would appear if accepted and whether online acceptance also allows for print consideration.
  8. Feedback: Some literary journals, such as Under the Sun, offer feedback whether the work is accepted for publication or not. These journals are especially friendly to emerging writers.
  9. Payment: A number of literary magazines pay writers whose work is accepted. Sometimes payment is in magazine copies; sometimes it’s in both money and copies. As you gain experience, consider sending your work to publications that offer monetary remuneration.
  10. Prior Publication: Some publications accept and even welcome previously published work. But be honest about when and where the original work, including blog posts, was published.
  11. Rights: Given the ubiquity of web content, more and more publications specify which rights they offer in return for publishing your work. Among the common is First North American Serial, the right to be the first publisher of your work one time in North America. Here is a link to Poets & Writers on this topic https://www.pw.org/content/copyright.
  12. Simultaneous Submissions: If you send your work to more than one publication, and most writers do, look for journals that accept simultaneous submissions. Most publications allow these but ask that you let them know if your work is accepted elsewhere. If a publication says “no simultaneous”, respect the journal’s requirement.
  13. Theme: Because of their longer shelf life, anthologies are great places to send work. Many are theme-based, for example, the experiences of Latinas in U.S. culture. The publication will specify whether the theme is tightly or loosely interpreted.
    Word Count: This specification is usually noted by genre, or for poetry, by the number pieces allowed.
  14. Contact Information: Some publications read blind, meaning they don’t want to be swayed by what your name may tell them about you, so make sure you follow these parameters.

Duotrope, NewPages and Poets & Writers Classifieds are among the best free online resources that list places to send your writing. You can also Google “literary journals that accept [fill in your genre]”. But it’s still important get to know the publication, so whether you’re looking online or at the local bookstore or library, peruse a recent prior issue. When in doubt about whether your piece is a good fit for the publication, query the journal editor, and when you send your work, make sure it’s polished and original. The good news is, if you’ve made it through the above list, you’ll make it through the submissions guidelines.


Adele for WebsiteAdele Annesi is an award-winning writer, editor and teacher. A co-founder of the Ridgefield Writers Conference, Adele has published work in various journals, including 34th Parallel, The Fairfield Review, Hotmetalpress, Fringe Blog, Midway Journal, Miranda Literary Magazine, The Pittsburgh Quarterly,and the Washington Independent Review of Books. Her work has also been anthologized for Chatter House Press and Fairfield University, where she received an MFA in creative writing. Her essay on Italian citizenship is part of the Clarion Award-winning Essays About Life Transitions by Women Writers,and her flash fiction has been adapted for the stage. A professor of English and writing, Adele regularly posts for Word for Words, her editing blog for writers.

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