Cady Vishniac, a reader and copy editor for Raleigh Review (among the many other hats she wears), has a two-part series up at The MFA Years that should be required reading for anyone looking to land your poetry or prose in a lit mag.
In Part One, Cady “clears up some misconceptions about submissions,” including:
- Nobody gets published without an MFA.
- The readers probably didn’t even look at the whole thing.
- That magazine turned me down in 2014. They must hate me.
- I’m not really good enough to submit to top-tier magazines.
- I posted my story to my personal blog or webpage.
- Those timid bourgeois readers probably just hated my bold anarchist political statement.
- This magazine is taking too long to get back to me.
- They keep spamming me after I submit.
Remember that readers are not the enemy. Litmags are not the enemy. I want to help you. I want to love your work. I want, sometimes desperately, to say yes.
In Part Two, Cady divulges her personal “dealbreakers,” some of the reasons she typically decides to reject a story. From story types (she really hates “revenge” stories, or thinly veiled pieces of therapeutic writing) to the many things you’ve heard time and time again will sink your submissions: clichÃ¨s, poor technical skills, unnecessary exposition, and yes, writing that closely resembles porn.
Don’t let our bullet-points do all the work: both Parts One and Two are excellent reading in full, as Cady expounds on each subject and offers advice for making sure the editors can’t say no.