I’ve been asked to take a look at the submission process, so here’s a handy list:
1. Finish writing your piece. Revise it a lot. Decide that it’s ready.
2. Pick 10 lit mags. You can find lists of accepting mags online or in print. Writer’s Market is a favorite, as well as Poetry Market. Buy at the beginning of each year or check out from your local library.
3. The best way to know if your story is going to be a fit is to read the guidelines and read an issue. If you never put any time, money, or effort into being a literary citizen, you can’t expect publications to fall over themselves for you. Also, don’t send your vampire erotica to a religious mag, or your religious piece to a vampire erotica mag. Et cetera.
4. Write a cover letter! Make it look good, even if it’s “just” online.
5. Write a bio! On the off chance that they want to publish you, they’ll often want a short bio.
6. Mail or email your piece out to these 10. Make a record of who you sent it to and when. Most places will say whether or not they accept simultaneous submissions, and it usually only matters if you are accepted, which should not be mathematically expected. Some places you may never hear back from. Some places you may not hear back from soon. Just keep writing, and just keep sending (new pieces to new places).
7. Collect your rejection letters. Print them out, pin them to the wall. These are proof that you are a “real” writer! Celebrate! Treat yourself! Post about it on Facebook! You’ve taken steps that most people don’t have the guts to take. You are the real deal. Hats off to you.
When in short story mode, Murakami Haruki takes a week to write a short story, a week to revise it, then sends it out. What if you dedicated your entire summer to this process? Imagine how much better your writing would get! Imagine how much experience and confidence you’d acquire!