Tips for submitting to lit mags

Running a Lit MagFor those of you who don’t know, I’m the founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Rampallian literary magazine. As EIC, I go through a ton of submissions and I see a lot of people who, quite frankly, are submitting their work the wrong way.

Here are my tips on how to submit to literary magazines without pissing off the editors:

  1. Read the submission guidelines… twice. This is the biggest problem I see when going through submission emails–people don’t read the guidelines. If a publication states “No simultaneous submissions,” don’t send them a simultaneous submission. They won’t look at it. If they tell you to send work via an attachment in .doc or .docx form, don’t send your work in the body of the email without an attachment. If they ask for a bio, send them one. Read the guidelines. Read them carefully.
  2. Proofread your submission email. You’re trying to sell publications your writing, correct? Then don’t send them a submission riddled with typos and errors. Read it over before you hit send. 
  3. Get the editor’s name right. This one goes along with number 2. If you’re addressing the submission email to one of the editors, spell their name correctly. Copy and paste it from the site if that will make things easier, but do not spell their name wrong. Just don’t.
  4. Don’t be cheeky. You might think addressing the editor in a cutesy, quirky way will make you seem cool and interesting. It won’t. It will only annoy the editor. Keep your cover letter or email straight to the point.
  5. Don’t constantly check up on your submission. Not all lit mags send out an automated response when they receive your submission. If you don’t hear from them within a couple days, do not email them asking if they got your submission. Most publications list an average response time on their website. If that time frame has passed and you haven’t heard from them, email them about your submission’s status. Otherwise, hang tight. Editors are busy people and most of them have jobs outside of their lit mag duties. Be patient.

That’s it for now. Happy submitting!

Running a Lit Mag

The Rampallian logo by Nathan Funke

The Rampallian released its inaugural issue  on August 11. I’m pleased with the quality of the publication; HP MagCloud did a great job printing the magazine.

But what pleases me most is the support I’ve received. Friends and contributors have purchased copies and shared links to the magazine’s purchase page. Local galleries have liked and shared The Rampallian’s Facebook statuses, and people have emailed me to tell me how great they think the issue looks.

For someone who decided to just up and start a literary magazine in a time when not many people are buying literary magazines, I’m honestly touched.

No, I’m not getting rich from selling The Rampallian. I make a little over $2 from each sale and I’m using that money to pay myself back for logo designs, website hosting and website design fees. Next issue, I hope to make enough to be able to pay my editors a little bit of money for their time and dedication. I’d love to pay contributors and maybe someday I’ll be able to. For now, I can give them a PDF copy of the issue they appear in. It isn’t much, but it saves them from paying $3 to buy a digital issue. Or $10 to buy a print/digital bundle.

Being on the other side of the submission email is certainly an experience. Before I started The Rampallian, I would  mutter and grumble about lit mags who only paid in copies or nothing at all. Why can’t I get paid to be a poet?

But now, I see how difficult it is to run a lit mag. People aren’t buying, even when you give them an affordable option. Getting the word out about your magazine is hard. Getting people to buy a copy is even harder.

Of course, I’m not in this to make money. But on the other hand, I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on the website alone. I can’t pay more out of pocket to send every contributor a print copy of the magazine. That’d be $8 out of my pocket for every issue. I’d go broke fast.

But, I’m having fun. I’m excited to put together the next issue this October/November. I’m already thinking up layout ideas.

And to me, that’s what really matters–having fun.