Welcome to our weekly column offering perspectives on lit mag publishing, with contributions from readers, writers and editors around the world. I got my first lit mag fiction publication in 1985. When the editors forwarded a letter they’d gotten from a New York literary agent looking to get in contact with me, I figured I was on my way. The fact you’ve never heard of me indicates how well that went.
Thank you for this article. I am 70 and can offer another geezer’s perspective, not dissimilar.
Since starting about 8 years ago, I’ve had 18 poems accepted, 9 online, 9 in print. I’m closing in on my 500th rejection letter. Although I started at a much slower pace, I now try for at least 100 rejections a year. Actually, I shoot for 12 submissions a month. It’s silly, I know, but the little notebook I use has 12 slots, so I try to fill those spaces each month. I cap my sim subs at about 10. I scour the tables of contents for poets I like (PILs, I call them), and read through online mags for new voices too.
Flip books are annoying, but better than nothing. The past year I’ve been very fortunate with acceptances, many of which are waiting to drop. It’s like they say: once you’re over the hill, you start to pick up speed.
I'm an 80 year old "Geezette" and your comments hit home! I finally made my writing debut last year in the March 21 issue of Literary Yard, an online lit mag, with "Spencer in Love." I have a nice typed rejection letter from my first ever submission to Cosmopolitan dated in the 1970's. I may send it to the Smithsonian! Onward and upward to the beloved 100 rejections. Dorothy Seehausen, Author
Love it, do it, though try for even more subs because they create hope - which then fuels me. Seventy four, more energetic than ever and my writing is better than ever. Had my first story accepted immediately by prestigious children's mag in 1999 right when I began serious commitment to writing for children and adults (after a long young adult life of occasional subs), and like you, thought it would all be easier than I'd imagined or heard. Had to recover from that quickly, of course 🤗!
Oh my God, sweet Geezer, you make my heart sing. Among the many things I vibe with in this piece is your hatred of flip books. I am glad you, too, are still on the scene.
From a slightly younger geezer, thank you! I like your style. If you think Writer's Market was bad, did you ever look at Poet's Market? Talk about an oxymoron...
Thank you John Fain. Continuing to write and submit when you're over 70, 60 or even 50 is an act of literary defiance. I remember Writer's Market and mailing hard-copy poems into what felt like a judgemental void, and I am grateful for Submittable and for being able to study Lit Mag websites. I always check out the editorial staff and look for at least one gray head. Also, since I've been writing for a long time, but had, as you say, some stops and starts, am I an "emerging writer" or not? I think we need a new category -- re-emerging, maybe.
Also, it’s amazing how many “fledging” lit mags reflect no masthead, should be a must before listed on the online resource databases.
I love this line: "Plus, I’ve always suspected that the student staff go through their unsolicited slush and savage it around the seminar table." Very visual.
Oh sweet #Geezer. I am delighted to find my fiction twin after all these decades. I am a poet but my experience and attitude match yours. I am also delighted by your wit and writing style, and will happily hunt down more of your work - to the ends of the Dead Web if necessary. Please keep writing.
I will add to your list of not-likes:
1. Publications and editors that do not identify their location. Geography matters. It really does. Even when they think it doesn’t.
2. Publications whose websites use light gray font, thinking it looks really cool. I’ve had some retinal surgeries (and that’s not always age-related -- have run into many younger folks in same boat) and although I can read well now, I went through over two years where I would take one peek at an online pub with that gray font and just run away. I continue to run away, on principle. Coolness over accessibility is always a loser.
Thank you, sweet #Geezer, for your wit and the shot of adrenaline.
Brilliant and strangely encouraging. Glad it's not just me that sticks to an old-fashioned Word table!
What a helpful and fun read! Thank you!
Loved this! Your comment about not submitting to a magazine attached to an academic program really hit home with me. I am in my 70's, and have yet to be accepted at any college mag except one in SoCal, bless their hearts. I envision a group of nervous young things at these academic journals, desperate to prove their cool, but also not independent thinkers, so they get easily influenced by their peers.
If you are familiar with Jon's work he is a fine writer. Here he offers an excellent insight into
the current world of lit mag submissions. This, I think, is particularly helpful for those of us
who still write everything long hand, and keep their submissions records in a there-ring binder.
Thank you. It's persistence, for sure. And one evolves; magazines come and go; we get old and see unimaginable things, sing on.
Well, from one geezer to another - thanks for this.
Thanks for this.