It’s been about a year since my last editorial, and with submissions opened for our fourth edition (can you believe it? We still can’t), it feels like the right time to write up another one. I’d have to say running a literary magazine has been tough, but the benefits outweigh the bumps in the road. Sometimes I will be up at two o’clock in the morning setting up submissions for the staff or looking for the latest online trends to increase visibility to the website. During submission deliberation, the conversations can be pleasant between staff on some occasions and brutal on others. We can end up spending our entire session on one submission and still not completely come to a decision. Though these are the parts we love about the magazine; the bickering about a favorite piece, the hour long battles on an art submission, the absolute rejections that we still discuss in detail, the relief and sadness when sending out decisions. It’s what we live for, though we certainly do not say everything we wish we could to every single submitter, so I will be taking this time to do so.
A cover letter is your first impression, and yes, it matters:
I have seen cover letters that have been so well written, the actual submission couldn’t live up to its expectation, though that has been only on a few occasions. More often than not, we have received submissions with no cover letter at all or just a ‘hey, my name is BLANK and this is my submission’. On even worse occasions where I delete the email immediately, a writer sends a link to their work as a submission. This is a huge slap in our face and misrepresents you. With access to the internet, it’s not difficult to see cover letter examples. It’s not even necessary to have one as an attachment, but to have nothing at all makes a bad first impression. You can even use the same cover letter for every magazine (but please do remember to change the name of the magazine—this is for the one submitter who recycled his cover letter without editing it each time).
We can’t respect your work if you don’t respect it either:
After a fierce battle of submission sorting and deciding, we often find work that has excellent potential but needs work. It’s a given that magazines may ask for revisions or suggestions. It’s also possible as a writer you want to protect your artistic identity and deny revisions and face rejection. There’s nothing wrong with that, but don’t be surprised when the rejections begin to mount. Before the magazine, we had a very different idea about writing. Now that the magazine is running, writing and rewriting come hand-in-hand, because at the end of the day, someone else’s eyes may catch what we’ve missed. Respect your work and give it the time it needs so when sending it out as a submission, it’s ready for publication. It’s these tiny changes which appear to be small, that truly matter.
A good move for the growing writer:
In the past, we have received follow up emails to writers whose submissions were rejected. What we’ve seen are writers generally interested on why we decided to pass on their work. We take the time to answer them honestly and all but a few have been grateful for the feedback. As writers, constructive criticism helps shape you, and though not every feedback is going to sink in, or you may just not agree, always ask for it and decide on its validity.