Submit Yourself: A Submissions Calendar is a Smart Idea

Whether you’re looking to make it big with a book you’re sure is a best-seller, or you’re just interested in breaking through with a few bylines in lit journals that your mother can frame and put on the 'fridge, one of the biggest hurdles is to know where to even send your work--and when.

Sure, going through a literary agent is obviously the easiest way to get your pieces in front of important eyes--but even getting an agent to represent you can be a huge challenge, particularly if you haven’t had a lot published. Which means it’s smart to also have, on hand, a list of places where you can submit unsolicited work throughout the year, in hopes of beefing up your portfolio.

But because accepting unsolicited work is, well, a lot of work, many journals, publishers, and magazines have limited time-frames during which they do all of their reading and deciding. So it’s smart to keep a Google Calendar or some other sort of digital log of who you’re aiming to submit to, what the due-dates are for submissions, and also a link to the requirements.

Here are a few places that accept unsolicited novels, stories, collections, and poems to get your submissions calendar rolling.

January

Get a running start with a few places that take submissions all year long.

Boyd Mills Press, out of Pennsylvania, is a small-ish press that accepts submissions of children’s and young adult books all the time, so you can send them your work as soon as it’s been proofread.

Electric Literature is an awesome short-story producing new-media magazine that gives print space to some of America’s freshest young talent. Submit your boldest and brightest, whenever you like.

Another most excellent (and highly selective) publication that will take your work all year is PANK Magazine, which publishes exciting, quirky, awesome poetry; short stories; and other forms of text. Check their website to see what they’re cooking up.

February

The Portland Review is a fun collective of writers and editors who publish (usually) around 3 times per year. They almost always have a beginning-of-the-year submission period, but will take what you send them most all the time. They also have a very cute and inspiring blog that I like very, very much. And, they use Submishmash, which makes it easy to track all of your entries.

March

Need a little seed money to start the year? The Oberon Poetry Magazine accepts contest submissions in the Spring (usually March or April) and awards $1,000 for the judge’s favorite.

April

Vagabondage Press’ literary quarterly, The Battered Suitcase, accepts fiction, non-fiction and poetry, but not criticisms or book reviews. They’re looking for previously unpublished authors who are interested in getting their name out there, so all levels of experience are encouraged to submit.

May

Founded by poetic dreamboat Derrick Brown, Write Bloody Publishing is rapidly establishing something of a cult following. Each year, they invite writers to send samples for short story or poetry collections, and select 7 to receive a book deal. A book deal! Their submission window is almost always in May, and almost always gets pushed back.

June

It’s pretty rare that you get personal feedback on your submissions-- but Our Stories takes the time. They also offer prize money. There is a submission fee, but for many, that’s a much better trade off than receiving a stock letter of acceptance. Their submission period usually begins in Spring, but Summer is a slow literary season, so this one can get bumped down to less busy times.

July

Summer is really, really boring in publishing. Use July as your catch-up month for all of those year-round places.

August

No, really. Take the summer to write whatever you like. Relax and write. Put it on your calendar.

September

Tin House Magazine is a respected literary publication that accepts short stories and essays between Sept. 1 and May 31, which is a nice wide window. They have some themed publications, so check their website to see if you’re on-topic.

October

The Avatar Review accepts poetry, prose, and pretty much anything, beginning in October. They publish just once per year, and their main goal is to get unpublished authors their first exposure. Think of it a bit like really nice training wheels.

November

Some places have two submission periods per year, which offers a nice bit of flexibility. Memoir (and) is one of those places, and is also a really great publication. The November submission period runs through February, and they’ll consider just about everything you send them, so go ahead and write your heart out.

December

December is actually just the best time to wrap up any and all submissions that you’ve had sitting around. Instead of adding December-specific ones, I’ll redirect you back up to January.


Of course, there are hundreds of journals, magazines, quarterlies and publishers who take submissions throughout the year, and depending on your genre of choice, some will be a better fit than others. But whomever you decide to grace with your work, having firm-ish deadlines inked out ahead of time is a smart way to hit the ground writing.

Hanna Brooks Olsen

Column by Hanna Brooks Olsen

Hanna Brooks Olsen is a freelance writer who lives in Seattle. She's a regular contributor to Seattle Pulp, where she also hosts a podcast, and an associate editor at Blisstree. Follow her on Twitter to see the kind of non-sequiturs that 20-somethings enjoy, as well as the occasional live-blogging of various political events. You may visit her online at hannabrooksolsen.com.

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Comments

Peter Persson's picture
Peter Persson from is reading October 11, 2011 - 6:20am

Great article Hanna. Thanks for all the useful information. Loved the final few words, great!

Anna Flaa's picture
Anna Flaa from MN is reading The Help October 11, 2011 - 7:52am

Such a helpful article.  I'm always in need of a good deadline, and these are a great place to start.  Thanks!

Xander Davis's picture
Xander Davis from Downtown Tycho, The Moon is reading Casino Royale / Tomorrow Now October 11, 2011 - 9:49am

Very helpful.  Thanks Hanna.

Dan's picture
Dan from Santa Monica, CA is reading Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk October 11, 2011 - 2:12pm

Thanks Hanna.

It's always good to hear which lit mags are worth your time.

Vinny Mannering's picture
Vinny Mannering from Boston, MA. USA is reading On Fiction Writing October 16, 2011 - 9:43pm

A great resource. I've bookmarked a number of these sites.

JameseyLefebure's picture
JameseyLefebure from Liverpool, Uk is reading The Gunslinger- Stephen King January 29, 2012 - 10:00am

as daft as it souns I'd never actually thought of that before!! I think I'll have to go and buy a calendar tomorrow, it might actually help to keep me organised!

Kevin Lynn Helmick's picture
Kevin Lynn Helmick from Lake Villa IL is reading Train, Pete Dexter March 4, 2012 - 2:53pm

I think I need some shorter works out and about. The shortest thing I have finished at the moment is a staggeringly intentional 26000.

I need to write a few more short stories.

thanks for the links, nice write.

Gale E Manning-Weithers's picture
Gale E Manning-... from Barbados is reading Dirty Angels, a novel by Katrina Halle May 2, 2015 - 2:29pm

Hi! I'm quite late here but found this to be a very interesting and useful article.  However, I'm wondering if the resources would still be current after all this time?  I'm hoping they are but will do some research in the meantime. Thanks for sharing!

Gale E Manning-Weithers's picture
Gale E Manning-... from Barbados is reading Dirty Angels, a novel by Katrina Halle August 31, 2015 - 6:57pm

Thanks for this great info Hanna.