Want to Start an Online Lit Mag? Do Your Research!

Here’s another rant from an overly sensitive writer. . .

I’m sure everyone has noticed the plethora of online literary magazines out there. Which ones are actually worth submitting to? Honestly, I would say less than 1%.  I say this because 1.) I’m bitter, and 2.) a lot of literary magazines are started on a whim. I’ll be honest, I started my online literary magazine on a whim (here). However, the difference between my lit mag and the hundreds of lit mags currently taking over the web is that mine is still going strong (knocks on wood). I am currently in the process of putting together the next three issues (talk about multi-tasking!), which I think are the best yet!

You see, the problem with these online magazines is that the people who start them don’t do their research first. Before I started my magazine, I was Associate Editor for a print literary-arts magazine for two years. I knew what I was getting myself into. And with my limited staff consisting of only one person, myself, I was ready for the challenge. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for some of my peers.

This summer (well, I guess it would be LAST summer. Wow, I still can’t get over the fact that it’s 2015), I submitted some of my work to several online literary magazines, and as of today, January 16, 2015, I am still waiting to hear back from three of them. I should partly blame myself. Research is a requirement of both the editor starting the magazine, and the writer submitting to it. If you notice that a “quarterly” magazine hasn’t published a new issue in six months, it’s probably best not to submit. If the magazine’s Facebook page only has 30 likes and the editors haven’t posted anything since creating the page two months ago, move on to the next. If you’re not sure, shoot them a quick email to see if they’re accepting submissions. If you don’t get a response, then you have your answer.

Unfortunately, you can do all of these things and still get snubbed. I discovered two of the magazines I’m waiting to hear back from through newpages.com. These magazines had just posted a classified ad calling for submissions. So I ventured onto their websites to see what they were about. One of the magazines was looking for submissions for its first issue. I, not listening to my own advice, submitted immediately. I liked their message (art that tells the story of body image and eating disorders), and I also wanted to support another newbie magazine. According to their submission guidelines, I should’ve received a response in 4 to 6 weeks. I submitted in July . . . I sent them a query letter in early September. No response. I checked the website a few days ago . . . I think it’s safe to assume that it hasn’t been updated since it was created back in July. So much for that magazine. The second one at least had six issues published and the seventh issue was in the works. As of today, it looks like that seventh issue is still in the works. Will it ever get published? Anyway, after the 4 week response period ended in August, I sent the editor a query letter about my submission. Again, no response.

I came across the third magazine by looking through the acknowledgements of other published writers. No Bullshit Review. Pretty awesome name, right? This magazine doesn’t sugarcoat anything, even down to its name. I checked out its website, which was really a Tumblr page (red flag #1?). The first issue was already published, although according to the magazine’s publication schedule, it was published two weeks late (red flag #2). Their Facebook page only had 50 likes (red flag #3), and the posting of published work to the website/Tumblr page was very sporadic (red flag # . . . seriously, Nortina, why are you still considering submitting?). Failing to heed my own advice once again, I submitted three of my most unapologetic poems. Did I get a response? Nope.

Seriously, why don’t these people take the webpages down?! Or at least put on the submissions page that they are no longer taking submissions. It’s not that hard to do. If you don’t have the passion and drive do something that can easily be considered a second job (minus the paycheck and benefits) don’t start a literary magazine!

I feel like my art is being mocked by these dubious magazines. Of course, if I had just listened to my own advice, I wouldn’t be in this predicament. Still, it would be nice to hear a response from them, even if it’s a “stop f*cking emailing me. I’m not publishing your sh*t!” response. I would be OK with that . . . maybe not. I am an overly sensitive writer.

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