Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Finding Appropriate Literary Magazines For Your Stories

If you’re submitting short stories to literary magazines, doubtless you’ve read in submission guidelines things like this:  “To get a feel for our editorial style, read several issues of the magazine before submitting.”

This is excellent advice, not only for finding good fits for your stories.  Reading many good short stories from different literary magazines will also help your craft.  However, it’s extremely time consuming if you do it in a scattershot, luck-be-with-me sort of way, finding a magazine at random, reading back issues, and only then deciding it’s not a great fit.

Instead, narrow your search first.  One way to do this is to buy or check out recent short story collections that pull from various literary magazines.  Two good ones are The Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize; Best of the Small Presses.  If you’re a genre writer, you may find similar anthologies in your field, like The Year’s Best Science Fiction.  These anthologies generally list which magazines the stories first appeared in. When you find a story you like, and feel it might fit with your writing, put that magazine on your short list.  Research your short-list magazines to make sure your first impressions were right.  Then, of course, submit exactly how the magazine wants, according to their guidelines.  Then submit again.  And again.

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Melinda Brasher has sold short stories to several magazines, including Ellipsis Literature and Art and Intergalactic Medicine Show.  You can read her most recently published story, "Passcodes," free at The Future Fire.  She's currently living in the Czech Republic and loving the nature (and the wild blueberries and raspberries for dessert during her hikes).  Visit her online at


Kathleen Moulton said...

Melinda, this information is so helpful for me. I'm not afraid to do the hard work required but you are right, reading back issues is time consuming!

Thank-you for your tips in making the process simpler.

Melinda Brasher said...

You're welcome!

Karen Cioffi said...

Melinda, thanks for the helpful tips. Freelance writing can be tough, narrowing down the playing field is definitely helpful.

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