Give Youself a Chance

Although we may aspire to get our poems and literary fiction into the New Yorker or Harper’s, only a very select few manage to do it. The good news is that there are literally hundreds of small-budget magaz\ines providing a showcase for your work . You won’t get big paychecks or become an immediate household name, but many great writers began their career here. Ploughshares receives 1,000 submissions each month from all over the world. There are 10 things you should know about literary magazines:

1) Read submission guidelines. Check the reading period – don’t send your work when the editors are not reading. Check also the maximum word limit – it won’t be read if you neglect this.

2) Read the magazine like a text-book. If you can’t get access to a copy, read their web-page so that you fully understand their needs.

3) Keep your cover letter simple. Be brief, give your author background and all your contact details. Mention any previous successes.

4. Keep your manuscript clean. Use 12-=point font and double-spacing. One inch margins on both sides. If submitting by mail, send a stamped-address envelope for a reply; or from overseas, an International Reply Coupon to cover return postage.

5. Be patient. Waits of 3 – 5 months are not unusual as these magazines usually have very small staffs.

6. Follow up, but not too soon. If you have sent it out simultaneously to several markets and it is accepted by one of them, be courteous and notify the others that it is no longer available.

7. Keep careful records of when and where every submission is sent.

8. Think about how editors read. If you’ve written a story that is weak at first but fantastic on Page 4, know that the editor will not read that far. It must be strong from the very first word.

9. Find encouragement in “good” rejections.If you get a hand-written rejection from an editor, know that you’re on the right track and that your next submission may hit the jackpot.

10. Remember, good writing will eventually find a home. It’s a matter of perserverence and patience. Never stop writing. Be your own tough critic. Focus on your craft. The only writers who have never been rejected are those who have never submitted. “Be brave and of good courage” – you’ll get there.

I have just started writing a new novel which, because of my age, may be my last. I am excited by it and, although just at the beginning, I am putting my heart into it. Nothing is more exciting – it’s like an artist standing in front of a blank canvas and knowing that he/she can create something memorable. Unlike my other 13 books , which took me a few months to write, I know that this one may take more than a year as I need to do a lot of historical research.

I am still getting lovely reviews of my e-book “Autumn Blessing” which you can obtain from the following:




For my other books, go to Books at the top of the blog. Happy writing.


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