Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Submitting to Literary Journals

What is an aspiring creative writer to do when faced with rejection? Write more, of course. And in this case, send more.
            I finally felt like I had a story worthy of publication. So I began the process of submitting to literary journals. I got the 2010 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market awhile ago and began going through the Literary Journals section, marking those that looked like places I might like to submit to. I began to inspire my writers’ groups to submit as well, and they inspired me in turn. My Santa Barbara group all wrote cover letters and critiqued each other’s letters. I asked the group by what date we wanted to start submitting, and one member said she’d already submitted to 12 magazines! At my suggestion, my Los Angeles group had a Publishing Party, where a few of us gathered to stuff envelopes together. One member “sent” to 10 journals that night.
            My Advanced Fiction Workshop at UCLA Extension had a class devoted to publishing, and one person suggested a submissions tracker website, I’ve found using the site a great way to organize. One of my favorite features is, when you list a submission, it tells you how many days it usually takes for the journal to respond.
            In class my professor suggested submitting to 30 journals at a time, and then forgetting about it. I think I’ll become more proficient as I go, but this first time I spent a day and managed to submit to 14 journals. Since the rejections have started coming in, I’ve continued to submit. So far, 22 journals and 8 rejections.
            When applying to college in high school, you apply to “reach” schools, schools you have a fair chance of getting into, and “safety” schools. It’s easy to get discouraged by the rejections from literary journals, but for the first round I sent to “reach” journals (those that pay, or have a lot of recognition). I guess it’s time to start submitting to journals that pay only in contributors' copies. My professor also said it’s normal for even established writers to get as many as 60, or more, rejections before an acceptance.
            So as I write, write, write, I also send, send, send.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Reading at the Hammer

When a friend invited me to a reading at the Hammer Museum, I expected a function with the sparse d├ęcor and hushed tones typical of the venue. So I was surprised to find bass pounding through the Museum courtyard and “Hammer” projected with fuchsia lights across the back wall. I haven’t been to that many readings, but I gather they don’t typically have a turnout of 250+ eager listeners.

            This reading was also the release party for a literary journal, The Rattling Wall. The event featured 11 authors, including my former professor Lou Matthews. The journal is funded by PEN Center USA, and the Emerging Voice who is a member of my LA writers’ group also has his work published in the journal.

            It was quite the shindig. I enjoyed meeting new people and seeing familiar faces. With 11 readers I expected my attention to wane, but each was unique and engaging (some more than others, of course). It’s nice to know the literary community of LA can throw a party.