Monday, August 31, 2015

Literary Magazines: A Report from the Trenches

This year, I have the good fortune to work as the Nonfiction and Arts Editor for USF's journal, Saw Palm: Florida Literature and Art. It's the 10th anniversary of the journal, and we are celebrating with a special Cuba issue. Being of Cuban descent on my mother's side, I am super excited about working on this edition. I get the privilege of speaking to Cuban writers and artists, and reviewing tons of amazing work about la isla bonita.

This experience has also showed me the other side of literary journals. A big part of being a writer is - obviously - getting your work published, and I have only recently delved into this big, scary world.

I have mentioned before that having readers has been the missing link in my writing practice. Of course, I won't get readers if I don't send my work out. So, I've finally started to send some of my babies out into the world. And yet, submitting work comes with the caveat of rejection. You can count on it.  I'm pretty sure writers are the only people who talk about rejection like it's a good thing. "I got the best rejection," you'll hear someone say when they received a personalized message from an editor. The way I see it, rejection means you're trying!

Anyway, back to Saw Palm. Being on the other side of the table gives me the insiders' perspective on this harrowing process. Editors get a ton of work thrown at them; but now I know firsthand what annoys editors, and how to make their job easier. It basically goes like this:

  • Don't get creative with your cover letter. Leave the creativity for the work itself.  
  • Follow the rules. If the journal specifies a word or page count, stick to it. Otherwise, you're making their job easy and they'll just toss it.
  • Don't bother the editors when you haven't heard from them in a week. It may take months for them to make a decision. Be patient. And meanwhile, keep sending your work out!
  • Did I mention to keep sending your work out?
So there's my report from the trenches. Please check out my interview with much-loved Miami Herald columnist, Ana Veciana-Suarez. I'll be sure to keep you updated as we move forward with the publication of our 10th edition of Saw Palm! 

Please click HERE to submit your work!

Please click HERE to submit your work!