Monday, June 23, 2008

Numero uno

Every once in a while, people ask (and sometimes Indiana Review staff even gives a talk on) how to get published. Of course, every magazine's staff might respond in a way that's ever so slightly different. However, there are three big things, I would say. Let's do this countdown style:

Number three: just keep sending your work out. We get to read a lot of stuff here, and we like a whole lot more of it than we can really publish. I've read work that our editors have chosen to pass on appear in the pages of some really nice journals. We're all just people reading your work--not quality-tabulating machines. So don't necessarily take a rejection as a sign that what you sent was no good. (On the other hand, it wouldn't be wise to assume that a rejection results merely from a matter of taste, either.) Of course, if you're sending your work to a lot of places at once, you'll want to make sure you notify everyone else once a piece gets picked up for publication somewhere.

Number two: read the magazine. A number of magazines might have this listed as numero uno. And it definitely helps to have an understanding of what kind(s) of material you might find in a particular journal. Indiana Review, we believe, represents an array of voices, styles, themes, etc--so sometimes the most we can say is that what we like is what's good. Read the magazine. You'll see what we're talking about.

Number one: read the guidelines. Read the guidelines and follow them. The staff of some magazines might just chuck your whole submission if you don't. For the most part, we try to be a little more understanding than that, but it makes our jobs harder when those who submit don't follow the guidelines. That's not something I'd imagine a submitter would want to be remembered for. And we do remember.

The importance of number one becomes ever clearer during a contest. We do our best to track down writers whose entries are missing pieces, but there's a lot of correspondence going back and forth during a contest. Making sure you've followed the guidelines will give both you and us a little peace of mind.

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