Writing for Submission-Tailoring Your Story

If the step to publish your first book feels to big, start small with e-magazine submissions.

Many of us dream of writing a great novel, but when it comes to submitting our work to a publisher, the process can feel daunting. The idea of writing an entire book and then waiting weeks if not months to hear back about our submission can often lead to discouragement. But there are other ways to get our feet wet.

As the days get shorter and the nights colder, it’s tempting to curl up on the couch with a good book and a cup of tea. That’s what I tend to do every winter. This year though, I’m doing something different. I’m finally going to use all the courage I have, which is not much to be honest, and submit some work to e-magazines.

For years now, I’ve been getting these emails with links to different e-magazines and websites where you can submit your work without having to have an agent or lots of published work behind you. Many of them even stipulate you can only have one or two publications before submitting. So far, I’ve mostly filed them away in a folder labeled “later”, which never comes.  So this year, I’m holding myself accountable by pledging to submit three projects. Setting the bar at a reasonable level, I know I can achieve the goal this year, and anything more will be a bonus.

Remember there are submission rules for e-magazines.

I will give you a few examples here with links so you get more flesh on your bones, and maybe even get inspired to submit yourself. Not everyone wants the same thing or offer the same deals. Some have submission fees, others don’t. Some offer big money for a publication, most offer lower pay. If the guidelines don’t mention any submission fee then it’s free, the fee usually goes to pay the person reading all entries.

The first example shows the very detailed requirements for Rappahannock Review:

We are currently open for submissions to Issue 5.1, which will be published in December 2017. Please note that we reserve the right to close submissions earlier than scheduled if volume or other circumstances necessitate this. 

When we are open for submissions, please follow the general guidelines below.

General Guidelines:

We do not accept previously published work, including work that has appeared online in blogs or other forums. Simultaneous submissions are fine, though if your work is accepted elsewhere, please email us immediately at rappahannockreview@gmail.com.

If you are submitting poetry or flash pieces compile your work into a single document and then upload your submission. Authors who submit more than one file per genre will have their work returned unread.

Current or former employees of the University of Mary Washington are not eligible to submit work to the Rappahannock Review. We will not consider work from current UMW students; however, we will read work from alumni who graduated three or more years ago. If you are a previous contributor, please wait a year from publication before resubmitting work.

While we strive to respond to all work as quickly as possible, careful attention does take time. Please wait at least six months from submission before querying. 


We accept poems ranging in any length and employing any aesthetic, including free verse, prose poems, and formal poetry. Authors may send up to five poems per submission. Poems may be part of a series. 


Authors of creative nonfiction may submit a single essay with a maximum length of 8,000 words or three shorter pieces each containing no more than 1,000 words. Submissions may range from flash nonfiction to extended memoir. Experimental form is encouraged. We would like to see essays with insightful perspective and attention to craft.


Rappahannock Review is looking for original, well-written fiction. Submissions may contain one piece of up to 8,000 words or three pieces of flash, each containing 1,000 words or fewer. Pieces experimenting with form are encouraged. 


The second one is for Blue River Review:

Blue River Review submissions now open. We are looking for the best poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction by new or published authors. Submission is free, and for submission instructions please visit our website: www.blueriverreview.org

Blue River is a non-profit literary journal produced by Creighton University’s MFA program. Published bi-annually, we seek to celebrate contemporary creative writers in both the local area and beyond by publishing their fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. In that spirit, we also provide our own MFA students with experience in literary editing and production as a preparation for work in the publishing industry.

Have any of you sought to be published in an e-magazine or online publication? Share your experience in the comments below.

Sonja Fröjdendal is an author who can’t make up her mind on which genre to write in. Ever since she forced her mom to teach her to read, books by Astrid Lindgren was the ignition for her dream to be a writer.  Inspiration comes from everywhere and in any shapes or forms.

Sonja lives in Sweden, her first publication was a self-published poetry book on Amazon back in 2013. Since then she’s had three novels published in three anthologies and is currently working on the fourth, none in the same genre. She can be found on her author page on Facebook, Pinterest, LinkdIn, Google+, Twitter, or Instagram.