Advice for Fledgling Writers: Where to Submit

Recently a few people have asked me some writing questions, and I want to write a few posts that will answer some of those questions. To be clear, I still consider myself a fledgling writer. I realize that I don’t have any major publications or an uber-popular blog. But I have spent the last 7 years trying to be a writer in one way or another. And I think I can share some resources and support for writers who are just starting out. So, let’s begin with where to submit. A lot of people want for their writing to be published, but they may not know where to start.

Literary Magazines

What type of writing do literary magazines look for?

Most literary magazines and journals accept three types of writing: fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry. Sometimes journals specialize in only one type of writing, and sometimes journals accept hybrid writing, art, and photography. Creative non-fiction is a genre that encompasses memoir, essays, and literary journalism. Also, some journals are online, and some are print.

Do literary magazines pay?

Some do; most don’t. The ones that pay are highly competitive. That doesn’t mean they won’t accept a fledgling writer’s work, but I have never had work accepted by a paying journal. I also haven’t submitted to many paying journals.

Where can I find out about literary magazines? 

Duotrope is a site that updates you on journals that are open for submissions. You can choose what genres (poetry, fiction, non-fiction, etc.) and Duotrope will only update you on journals that accept your genre. It will also tell you if it is a paying market or not. The only thing about Duotrope is it requires a subscription of $5 per month or $50 per year.

Newpages is also a great (and free) source for finding places to submit. You can search journals in alphabetical order. You have to dig a little to find out which journals are currently open for submissions.

Submittable is a website that many journals use for submissions. It is a great way to keep up with your submissions, too. Submittable has a Facebook page that is constantly updated with journals who are accepting submissions, writing contests, prizes, and the like. Just beware: you will get multiple notifications a day from the page. But it’s good information!

Spiritual Writing

What if I mostly write spiritual pieces? Will secular lit mags take my work?

If your writing is overtly spiritual/Christian, most regular literary journals will not accept your work. However, there are Christian literary magazines!

Image – This is probably the most well known spiritual lit mag. It is a beautiful, intelligent, thoughtful journal. Pretty competitive. I feel like I’ve submitted to them once a long time ago, but was rejected. I try to maintain a subscription to this one.

Ruminate – Another well-known spiritual journal. They’ve rejected two of my pieces, but I’m not giving up!

Relief – This is the journal that published my very first publication back in 2009! I highly recommend it. Spiritual writing with an edge.

Rock & Sling – This journal rejected some poems I submitted, but accepted me to be a blogger for their website.

The Other Journal – I really like this online spiritual journal, and I think each issue has a lot of eclectic pieces that make you think. On the downside, there is a long gap between issues, and I have submitted to TOJ a couple of times and have NEVER heard anything – not even a rejection message!

St. Katherine Review – This is a newer Christian journal and right now they are in the process of changing editors. However, it is a beautiful magazine that has published two of my essays.

There are also a few websites that accept short essays with a spiritual tone that I can suggest:

She Loves Magazine

You Are Here


Also, Christianity Today, Hermeneutics, and Relevant Magazine are big hitters in the Christian realm. I have friends who have been published in all of these places.

Cross-Cultural Writing

If you write about life overseas, cross-cultural experiences, travel, or being a third culture kid or adult, I can suggest a couple of magazines to submit to:

A Life Overseas – This is a site that publishes stories from expats and former expats, often from missionaries. It has a spiritual undertone, but I don’t know that every essay is required to be spiritual. They accept guest posts.

Velvet Ashes – This is a site specifically providing support for women living overseas. This is a Christian publication that accepts guest posts.

Use Your Difference Magazine – This was created by Tayo Rockson, a third culture kid who actually interviewed me for his podcast about  . . . you guessed it, third culture kids.

The Pavilion Literary Magazine  – This is a fledgling lit mag, but it has published several beautiful pieces about life overseas. It appears to currently be on hiatus, but I hope it will be up and running again soon.
Also, I have a Pinterest board where I pin links to journals and magazines I can submit to. You can follow my Pinterest board here:

Journals/Magazines for Submissions


Keeping Up With Submissions

As I mentioned before, Submittable is used by many magazines, and it’s an easy way to keep up with your submissions. Here’s what my Submittable page looks like right now (click to enlarge):

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 7.34.02 PM

As you can see, I don’t have many submissions out there right now. You will notice that some say “In Progress” and some just say “Received.”

Some mags don’t use Submittable and use either email submissions or a different submission manager. If you submit often, you need to keep up with those submissions. The way I do that is using a super handy Excel spreadsheet that my husband built for me. Here’s what it looks like (click to enlarge):

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 7.44.18 PM

Can you see all those dates in the “Reject Date” column? Yeah.

In addition, I have an folder in my email labeled “Submissions,” and anytime I send submissions and receive responses via email, I move those emails into my Submissions folder.

Additional Notes

Some journals now charge for submissions. It is up to you whether or not you want to submit to those journals. Often the charge is small, like $2 or $3 dollars. I tend to steer to magazines that have free submissions, but I do think that it is good to support journals, whether through submission fees or through subscriptions.

You can submit the same piece to multiple journals. This is called simultaneous submissions. If your piece gets accepted somewhere, be sure to withdraw it from the other places you submitted it to!



Okay, this is not part of the advice post, this is just self-promotion. I recently had a new essay published over at Rock & Sling blog. Read it here! 


P.S. Please leave any writing questions you have in the comments!! 🙂

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