This list is slanted toward creative writing, such as fiction and personal essays, although many of these ... also call for ... ... poetry, or other ... A ... story
This list is slanted toward creative writing, such as fiction and personal essays, although many of these publications also call for articles, graphics, poetry, or other material. A well-written story or essay that adheres to their guidelines is likelier to be accepted, and more quickly.
Put yourself in the place of the editor. For the editor, the zine itself is the creation, the work of art: What she or he chooses to include in the zine displays this artistry. Especially when the guidelines are vague or unspecific (“high-quality fiction and non-fiction” for example) it is important to read some of the work the zine has already published. When literary journals were exclusively in print, the rule of thumb was three issues. Now with most online publications, you have the advantage of being able to read their entire archives.
Editors keep reminding writers to weed out bad grammar and incorrect spelling in their manuscripts, and they mean it. So watch your grammar! Correct your spelling and punctuation! Mistakes in these areas continue to be big turnoffs. It’s tempting to get lazy when all you have to do is paste your work in the body of an email. Just remember who’s on the receiving end.
Another turnoff—the major turnoff, in fact—are submissions that don’t fall within guidelines. When a publication states “no poetry” they mean it. And when they state “up to 3,000 words” don’t send them a 4,000-word story you’re sure will knock their socks off. It won’t.
You’ll notice that some of these markets pay but most of them—usually the literary zines—don’t. Yet they ask for your best work. Why submit to them? Several reasons: For the editors, this is a labor of love. Most frequently they have degrees in English and/or experience in traditional publishing. They love to read; moreover, their greatest desire is to make their own contribution to Literature. If you’re good, one of their life’s thrills will be to have discovered you. Also, ezines are growing in prestige, and the best of them are being read by agents and major publishers. Check out the contributors’ bios in some of the zines here. You’ll see novelists, columnists, professors. When they place a story in a webzine their colleagues and agents will read it and probably take a look at the other pieces too.
But more importantly, placement in online zines is the best way to build up your list of credits quickly. You don’t have to be a careerist to understand that writing is a career, too, as well as a vocation and a passion. The more you place, the more you’re seen. And the more your work is accepted, the likelier you are to be regarded as a serious writer to bank on by higher tiers in the publishing world.
And remember why you write in the first place. To express, to communicate—to be READ.