There are not any hard or fast rules on where you should submit when you are starting out.
Although certain journals make it clear in their guidelines that they prefer submissions from unpublished writers, this is a rare request.
Most journals are happy to publish a writer for the first time, but they are not overtly trying to do so.
Every writer has different goals and ambitions.
Some just want to publish their work.
They want to get it out into the world and they don’t care how prestigious the journal is, or how many authors it accepts.
Other authors are only interested in publishers that publish genre.
Some new writers just want personal feedback and others want a quick response time.
I really think you can submit your work to any journal that you want.
But I do think that it is good to know what you are getting into.
Below, I have listed some good places to get started if you are looking for journals that accept most of what they receive, journals with good reputations, and journals that respond quickly to submissions.
Journals that accept most of what they receive
Some journals accept over half of what they receive. Acceptance rates change all the time, so realize that over time these journals may become harder to get into. At the time of this publication, they all had an over forty percent acceptance rate.
These are not the only publishers that are easy to get into, but they are a good place to start if your sole goal is to get published in a literary journal.
Make sure you read the guidelines before submitting to know if your work fits. Just because they are approachable doesn’t mean that they will accept angry poetry when they only publish nature poetry!
They only publish poetry about nature and ecology. They publish a little under half of the work they receive.
They publish poetry, nonfiction, and fiction online. Every issue is themed, but they read for several themes at once.
They publish a wide variety of poetry and prose, including genre work. They accept about 80% of what they receive.
As their name suggests, they publish only fifty-word stories. They read submissions every month between the 1st and the 15th. They publish over 50% of what is submitted to them.
Down in the Dirt publishes fiction and poetry. They have an acceptance rate of 70%.
If you are a poet who really hates rejection, submit to this online literary journal. They accept almost 100% of what is submitted. They only publish poetry.
Anti-Heroin Chic publishes poetry, fiction and nonfiction. As they put it,
“Send us your observations. Send us your heart.
Send us your honesty.”
Page & Spine is an online literary journal that focuses on publishing the work of emerging authors. They accept poems, limericks, micro flash fiction (under 150 words), flash fiction (up to 1,000 words), short stories, articles, essays, and poems. They accept approximately half of the work they receive. They pay.
This is an online journal of upbeat and warm fiction, poetry, art, and essays. They accept over half of their submissions.
Literary Yard is an e-journal that aims at widening literary horizons. They publish well over half of what they receive.
They publish a wide variety of writing and visual art. They have a well-designed website and a rather high acceptance rate.
An Ekphrastic work is writing or art about another work of art. The Ekphrastic Review publishes fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry.
They publish a poem a day by a different poet exploring and responding to America’s political reality.
They publish one piece of flash fiction in the science fiction or speculative fiction genre, every day.
An online journal that publishes fiction, nonfiction, analysis, and poetry.
They publish fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, but it must be one hundred words or less.
They publish poetry electronically.
They publish poetry and short fiction.
A publisher of poetry based in the UK.
They publish flash fiction, often curated around a theme.
The most established and respected journals
These journals are very hard to get into. They are considered to be the best and most prestigious journals out there.
However, there is no reason not to start out trying to submit to these journals (as long as you are not submitting your work only there). Set aside a packet or two to submit to the most prestigious journals, and then send your other poems to less competitive journals. You don’t have to necessarily send your work to the most approachable ones. Most literary journals fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.
Most of the journals on this list accept less than one percent of what is submitted to them, so don’t take rejection from them personally.
The Atlantic is open to submissions of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction. They pay well.
The most famous (and most profitable) magazine with a literary bent, the New Yorker is very competitive to get into. However, they accept unsolicited submissions of fiction, poetry, and cartoons. They pay very well.
This is the most famous poetry magazine there is. It is published by The Poetry Foundation. The first time you have a poem printed by them, an asterisk appears next to your name to note your appearance as a debut poet with them.
The Sun is a fabulous ad-free magazine that has been around for over forty years and has published so many famous writers, I have a hard time choosing even five. They publish fiction, creative nonfiction, memoir, and poetry. They only accept submissions through the mail. They even pay well.
This prestigious print magazine also has a great weekly online feature called “Poets Respond,” which features poems that are responses to news articles published that week.
They publish one story per issue. They pay well and they have published many established, reputable, bestselling, and award- winning authors.
This venerable print publication accepts only postal submissions. They publish poetry and fiction, as well as interviews, which they are rather famous for. They were founded in 1953 and have published many well-known writers since then. Some famous authors including Adrienne Rich, Philip Roth, V. S. Naipaul and Rick Moody were first published by the Paris Review.
This print and electronic literary journal publishes great straightforward fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Granta has editions in twelve languages across three continents.
They publish poetry, short fiction, and nonfiction by award- winning writers. They pay $200 per poem, and start at $1,000 per fiction piece.
Harper’s considers unsolicited fiction. It is the second-oldest continuously published monthly magazine in the US.
This respected literary journal publishes some of the best contemporary writers, even though they are no longer available in print form.
Also known as Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, this literary journal publishes nonfiction and fiction only, and is reformatted every time it is published. Sometimes it resembles a journal, sometimes a box, sometimes something else entirely.
Some of the many writers they have published include Denis Johnson, Jonathan Franzen, Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Lethem, and Michael Chabon. The amount they pay authors varies.
According to Tony Kushner, “Everybody should rush right out and subscribe to the Threepenny Review.” This quarterly arts magazine publishes poetry, fiction, memoir, and criticism. They have very fast response times. They pay.
This online-only literary journal publishes fiction, excerpts, poetry, and nonfiction. They are highly respected and have published many contemporary authors that have become part of the establishment.
They publish short fiction, essays, poetry, plays, excerpts from larger works, and translations of poetry and short prose. When you submit to their print journal, you are also submitting to their online magazine; both have a large readership.
They publish great writing and work, everything from novellas to excerpts. They are respected, modern, and compelling. They have an open reading period once a year.
This is one of the most prestigious poetry-only journals. They are print-only, and do a fabulous job.
This is a great print journal that publishes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Known for publishing “important new writers early in their careers” (PEN), six of their contributors have gone on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.
This established print journal publishes some of the best nonfiction around; they also publish poetry and fiction. They do charge for electronic submissions, but postal submissions are free.
ZYZZYVA has some of the best distribution I have ever seen. If a bookstore sells only three different literary journals, ZYZZYVA is one of those. They have published many famous poets and writers, including Haruki Murakami and Sherman Alexie.
The Adroit Journal is an online publication that has become acclaimed for the fiction and poetry that they publish. They have published many of the most established and respected authors.
Published twice a year in print, this beautiful literary journal publishes both established and new authors. They publish fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and cross-genre work.
Journals with fast response times
It is good to start out by submitting your work to journals that have fast response times. It is rewarding to hear back from journals within a month, rather than a year, when you have forgotten all about your submission.
Submitting to journals with fast response times helps keep you motivated.
All of these journals respond to submissions within a month.
They publish only poetry and respond to all submissions within a month.
This fictional humor website, which leans toward all things literary, responds to submissions within a week.
They publish flash fiction, prose poems, and hybrid forms and respond within a week.
Softblow, an online poetry journal, responds to most submissions within three days.
This literary journal publishes science fiction and fantasy short stories and responds to most submissions within a week. They also pay.
The Penn Review publishes original poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and visual artwork, and responds to most submissions within a week.
Radar Poetry is a wonderful electronic poetry journal that responds within three weeks to submissions.
This electronic literary journal focuses on publishing accessible poems. Their turnaround time is a couple of days.
They publish flash fiction online and respond within a week.
The Eunoia Review describes themselves as a publisher of “beautiful thinking.” They respond within three days.
This flash fiction publisher responds to all submissions within two weeks.
The New Verse News presents politically progressive poetry on current events and topical issues. Because of the nature of what they publish, they have fast response times and then generally publish work within a few days of accepting it.
This electronic publisher of poetry responds within a week.
Thrush is a highly respected poetry journal that responds to most submissions within ten days.
This poetry publication responds within days and gives authors a choice between a print copy of the journal their work appears in and fifteen dollars.
A publisher of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that responds within a week.
They respond to themed submissions of creative writing within a week.
Journals that read submissions blind
A blind submission is one that is submitted to the literary journal in a way that the readers and editors can read all the submissions without knowing the name or anything else about the author who submitted to the journal.
The idea is that it takes away any bias someone might have against or for a particular ethnic heritage, or any other number of things. It hopefully means that your creative work is selected based on its own merits.
Blind submissions are particularly helpful for new authors who don’t have previous publications. I had been writing for over a decade by the time I started submitting. But my bio was so thin and unsubstantial that I struggled to find anywhere to place my poems, until I started submitting to journals that read blind. The first two publishers who accepted my work read blind.
If a journal does not read blind the advantage can sometimes go to authors who have published a lot more work, even if the work they submit to that literary journal is not very good.
The literary journal I was editor for read blind, and I ended up rejecting a very famous author.
A journal of arts, medicine, and the humanities, publishes online issues devoted to prose and poems that interact with medical issues.
An online literary journal that publishes poetry and prose. You can get a good feeling for what they publish by reading their latest issue here.
A DesiLit arts and literature journal. They focus on connecting South Asian diasporic writers and homeland writers. They are also open to submissions from non-South Asians with a deep and thoughtful connection to South Asian countries, who bring their own intersecting perspectives to the conversation.
Burningword Literary Journal accepts poetry, flash fiction, and flash nonfiction submissions for publication. They have electronic and print versions. They refer to their reading process as double- blind.
They have only one agenda—to be a vehicle for new and exciting writing. They publish a particularly international group of writers.
They publish fiction, nonfiction, flash fiction, visual art, and poetry.
Chantwood is an online magazine dedicated to publishing great short stories. They believe that great fiction starts with great characters, so they are looking for unforgettable heroes and anti- heroes in never-before-seen settings. They publish a wide variety of fiction: sci-fi, fantasy, speculative fiction, romance, literary fiction, historical fiction, and more. And, while the magazine focuses on short stories, they also publish poetry.
Into the Void is a literary journal that publishes experimental literary work of poetry and prose. They publish print and online issues every couple of months.
Toyon is a multilingual journal of literature and art that is edited and produced by Humboldt State University. They publish work in English and Spanish. They also accept reprints.
Radar is an online poetry journal that pairs art with the poetry they publish. The editors talk about how they read all submissions blind in their interview with the Poetry Society of America here.
A wonderful online literary journal that publishes poetry and prose.
This literary journal publishes creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and reviews.
They are particularly interested in publishing writing that crosses boundaries in genre or geography, and voices that aren’t often heard in mainstream publications.
They publish creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, dramatic works, and visual arts.
They are looking for well-crafted stories about Africa, Africans, and African issues in all genres from writers of African descents or those associated with Africa. They publish poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.