Rejection Is Not Failure: The Necessity of Finding the Right Literary Magazine for You

Posted by Kathryn Capone, Fiction Reader for issue 9.2

The feeling of rejection is not a pleasant feeling. It leaves a person to wonder, “where did I go wrong?” When submitting a piece to a literary magazine, writers are hopeful that their work will be rewarded with publication; rejection only makes them feel like they didn’t do something right and that they have failed. However, it’s important for writers to learn that not every piece is right for just any literary magazine. Researching a literary magazine before submitting a piece is the best way for writers to determine if their work would fit in well with the magazine as a whole.

A useful place for writers to look on literary magazine websites is the “About” section, found usually on its own page. Reading this is an excellent way for writers to get a stronger sense of whether or not their piece would fit in with the rest of the journal. This semester, I had the pleasure of learning about the literary magazine, Nowhere. It’s a unique literary magazine which publishes travel writing that has, “a strong sense of place, character, and time.” Thus, the magazine has its own niche that writers should be aware of before they submit.

Similarly, Gandy Dancer has its own set of guidelines that writers should take note of and account for. Notably, we accept fiction and creative nonfiction stories, poetry, and visual art. While these genres are more open-ended, they still provide a framework for writers and give a sense of what we’re looking for from them. Additionally, we only accept writers that are SUNY students, yet every semester we receiver work from people who are not affiliated with the SUNY system at all.

The pieces found in Nowhere work as a collective unit; each contribution fits with what the magazine calls for in their “About” section. The same goes for Gandy Dancer. So, a fiction piece in Gandy Dancer about a woman exploring her childhood home would not be a good fit for Nowhere. Notably, if this same story was submitted to Gandy Dancer by someone who is not a SUNY student, we wouldn’t be able to publish it.

Yes, rejection of a writer’s piece could happen for a variety of reasons. Just because a writer’s work isn’t right for one particular magazine, doesn’t mean it won’t be perfect for another one. So, if you plan on submitting to any literary magazines in the future, remember that researching them first is key and that somewhere out there, there could be a place that your work fits in just right.

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