September is the Start of Submission Season
by Bill Glose

Summer is over and the kids are back in school. And by “kids,” of course, I mean the students who fill out the staffs of university-run literary journals all across the country. Most of these journals go on hiatus over the summer, but with the coming fall they get back to the serious business of seeking

out and publishing the best literary work possible. And that’s where you come in.

So many writers are procrastinators. When they see a submission calendar runs from September 1 to May 31, they put off sending in their work until that last day in May, figuring that will give them the most time to edit and perfect their work. Unfortunately, by the end of their submission cycle, most journals are already locked in on their choices.

Here’s why. At the beginning of the submission period, readers sift the slush pile in search of anything worthwhile. The vast majority of submissions are mated with tiny little rejection slips and sent back home in their SASE’s. But some go forward into a “Maybe” pile. These submissions are then passed on to a particular editor who will make the final decision or an editorial board that votes on which work makes it into the journal.

Regardless, as the pile of maybes grows larger, the culling process for submissions becomes less forgiving. Think about it: these readers and editors have already attached themselves to other stories and poems; to oust those submissions from their journal’s limited pages, another submission must strike them as significantly better. The same poem that earns a shrug and a quick trip back to its author in May might get forwarded to the poetry editor in September for possible inclusion.

And that means one thing for everyone wishing to see their works in perfect-bound splendor: The time to submit is now!

There are hundreds of excellent publications to choose from, including many in our own home state. I’ve put together a web page listing literary journals in Virginia. If you click on any of the covers shown on that page, it will send you to the page showing the submission guidelines for that particular journal. So get clicking and good luck!



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