Submitting to Magazines

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

Publishing a magazine over the last year, I have learned quite a bit. Not only from an editor’s point of view but also from a writers’.

Kevin, Editor of Written Tales

Response Times

We may get impatient as we wait for a response. God knows I have. But now, I have a better understanding of why. Many of these magazines we love are short-staffed and low budget. As their demand increases, their response time takes longer.

Trust me when I say this, they are not ignoring you. They have to read through hundreds of stories and poems to see which make the cut; it’s a time-consuming process. What we should keep in mind is many are not paid for their time and self-fund these projects. Now I see why some ask for submission fees.

For example, to produce an e-book or print magazine, it takes between 60–80 hours at a minimum.

  1. Basic editing is required for format consistency.
  2. Artwork creation for magazine covers.
  3. Reply to all who submitted, so they are kept up to date with the process.
  4. Marketing, another beast.

Points three through five are not included in the 60–80 hours. In addition, if they have a website, additional time and expenses are required for hosting and maintenance. In the end, the cost to run a publication is not nominal.

An Experiment

To experience part of the process first hand:

  1. Read one hundred posts on a site like Medium.
  2. Pick your top fifty.
  3. Go back and re-read those fifty with grammar, theme, and structure in mind.

How long does it now take you to read?

Submissions

One

If you want your piece published in a magazine, print or otherwise, follow the guidelines. If something makes little sense, do not guess. Shoot an email and ask. If you do not follow the instruction, they will reject the submission. It’s not the editor’s responsibility to make sure you followed their guidelines. It’s yours. If you want it bad enough, then follow what they ask. I cannot drive that point hard enough.

Two

Properly format your piece. Do not send a long string of text filling up pages. No matter how good this piece might be, they will reject it. Editors cannot read your mind. They do not know where your paragraph should end or start.

Three

Grammar is king. If you do not take the time to cover the basics, the piece will get rejected. With tools such as Grammarly and ProWrtingAid, there is no reason not to cover the basics. Cut and paste the text, and it’s 80–90% ready.

If you do not take care enough about the quality of your writing, why should an editor take the time to read it?

Four

If they request an image, supply one. If you supply one, add a source and cite it. Because of copyright laws, magazines cannot use any image without the explicit permission of the creator. This is why sites like unsplash and pixabay are available, copyright-free images ready to use.

Published

Magazines are not your personal blog. Unfortunately, sites like Medium treats them as such. When you submit a piece to a magazine and then remove it after a week, this can get you banned.

Why? Many editors will promote your work across social channels, and when you remove it, it will throw a 404 error on those social platforms linking back. In other words, it hurts their credibility and the writers they showcase.

If you wish to remove an article, ask. They may ask you to wait thirty to sixty days; others might pull it all together. But in some cases, they may not remove the piece submitted and published as you have given them the right to keep it on their site for their archives and promotional materials.

Make sure you understand the rights before submitting to any publication.

That is all I have for now. I hope this sheds a little insight into the submission process to publications.

  • Ex-journalist writing once again through poetry and prose and founder of Written Tales. A magazine to connect readers and writers.

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