The Early Bird Gets the Worm

If you’re looking for something new to read, one of my favorite new literary journals is Tahoma Literary Review, which publishes fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. The journal will soon release its debut issue, and you can already read about some of the contributors. It’s a rather impressive list. I also like the journal because of the blog posts the editors write every few weeks, which contain some of the most practical advice on writing I’ve read, especially for those first getting started. In the latest post, editor Kelly Davio stresses the importance of submitting work early in a submission period. This post stuck because because when a lot of journals and magazines open for submissions in September, I don’t always submit my work to them immediately. Kelly’s post is making me re-think that.

Here’s what she has to say about submissions, “When editors see a piece we simply have to have, we know we’d better grab it before it appears in another magazine’s pages. That means we often have few pages left in the issue by the last week or two of the submission period:, and competition that was already tough to begin with reaches cutthroat proportions. I sometimes have to say no to great poems when they reach me on the late side.”

She adds that for the first submission period, they received work from over 350 poets, usually five poems per poet. Of the poems, over 200 came in the last week, but the journal was already 2/3 full. Those statistics really put things into perspective, and when September rolls around and a flood of journals open for submissions, I don’t plan to wait. Send the work out there at the beginning of the period.

If you have the time, I suggest going back and reading some of the older blog posts, too. All contain useful information.

Some Useful Links Regarding Lit Mags


The process of submitting your writing to literary journals can be utterly daunting. One of the most popular databases, Duotrope, now charges a fee for its services, and unless you know what you’re looking for, it won’t yield much for a basic search. Another well-known resource, Poets & Writers magazine, has a classifieds section available online and in the back of the magazine. Some of my publishing credits came from resources I found in that classifieds section. However, that section can be hit or miss, and lately, it features more ads for conferences and grants than it does for literary magazines.

Recently, I started submitting new work to various magazines, and I’ve discovered two wonderful resources. One of the resources is called The Review Review, a website which publishes reviews of various magazines, thus providing information to writers about what the mags are looking for and the type of creative work they typically publish. Furthermore, the website includes a database of literary journals, and I’ve been mining the database every few days for new publishing opportunities. Check out the site and bookmark it. New reviews are published frequently, and new magazines are added to the database.

I also discovered a website created by Jeffrey Bahr, a poet whose work has been published in some of the most prestigious literary journals in the country, such as Iowa Review, Indiana Review, and Black Warrior Review. Basically, Bahr has a list of lit. mags on his website and provides short blurbs about their submission process. He rates them  in terms of difficulty, and Poetry magazine and The New Yorker top the list.  Keep in mind that just about every single publication on his list is fairly well-known, and even the journals at the bottom of the list, such as Main Street Rag, Tar River Poetry Review, and Spillway, have low acceptance rates. (Both Main Street Rag and Spillway rejected my work multiple times before I finally got an acceptance recently in each of those mags). But the list is worth checking out, especially for mid-level writers looking to break into some of the more well-known magazines.

Happy hunting!