Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

storm moving across a field
July 19, 2023

How to Publish Poems and Prose in Magazines

by Ellen Buikema

There is nothing quite like the joy of seeing your words in print. Getting your poetry and short stories published takes effort and persistence. But if you take the right approach with the composition and submissions process, you’ll have a better chance of finding a home for your poetry and prose.

But first …

Share your work with other writers.

Before you send your work out into the world of editors and publishers, workshop or share your writing for feedback. We all need suggestions for improvement. You don’t need to agree with everyone, just listen and decide what feels right to you.

A finely crafted piece has the best chance for publication.

Reach out to fellow writer friends or acquaintances and ask for their feedback. Remember to return the favor with an offer to critique their writing.

Consider joining a local writers’ group.

Writers meet at a variety of places:

  • libraries,
  • coffee shops,
  • restaurants,
  • community centers.

Check online groups via Google searches and Social Media sites. I’ve had good luck with Facebook writers’ groups as well as MeetUp.

When I moved to a new town and couldn’t find a local writers’ group, I joined the local Arts Guild and started a critique group.

Just like Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.”

Read literary journals and magazines.

“If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

― Stephen King

If you’d like to be published in literary magazines, you should read literary magazines. Look for online and print magazines with a strong focus on your area of interest.

  • For poets, there are publications dedicated entirely to poetry.
  • Writers who have a strong interest in short stories can explore these publications.

Reading these publications will help you have a better idea of the kinds and styles of poetry and prose that editors are looking for and being published in different markets now. You can use your research to find niche markets your poetry fits best.

Buying and reading literary magazines helps support and keep these publications running. Also, the fewer places there are for you to submit, the fewer chances you have of getting your poetry published.

Research submission possibilities

Reading a variety of poetry and short story publications will help you begin the research side of the submissions process.

Finding a publication that is a good fit.

Think about the publications you’ve read where you can picture your work fitting in perfectly.

If you write using a specific genre or poetry style, submit to publications that cater to your niche. You’re more likely to be accepted in these magazines than if you choose places that publish a broader range of works.

This advice also applies to calls for themed submissions. In this case a magazine produces an issue in which all pieces focus on a certain topic, word or theme. Writers have an opportunity to submit works that fit the theme.

Poetry anthologies—collections of poems from different writers, often published by small presses—are largely based around themes. Search for anthology calls for submissions too.

Submitting your work

After finding the publications you feel are the best fit for you work:

Check the guidelines.

  • Each magazine and publisher have different rules for how to submit your work.
  • Read the guidelines with care to make sure your writing makes it to the proper channels.

Format as requested.

  • Your writing should stand out, not the font.
  • Follow the formatting guidelines to a “T” or it may end up in the trash.
  • The goal here is to make life easier on the editor.

Proofread and then proofread again.

  • Make sure that your work is error-free.
  • Ask others to read your work. Extra eyes-on never hurts.

Be at peace with rejection.

  • Don’t give up!
  • Everyone who sends out their work suffers rejection. Everyone.
  • Many famous writers spent years submitting work before they found success.
  • Always be courteous and gracious. If your work is not accepted this time, there will always be opportunities in the future.

The following links may help you find a place to submit your poems and stories:

Magazines send out calls for themed writing. Look here to find announcements:

A few words of caution.

Be careful when publishing work on a personal blog, discussion forum or other online publications.

Magazines generally only accept submissions that have not been previously published, and count blogs or other websites as publications.

If you post to a website that invites you to publish your writing for feedback, you may risk the work being considered previously published—therefore unacceptable.

Have you published your writing in a magazine or journal? What advice do you have for writers who want to get their work out into the world?

* * * * * *

About Ellen

Author, speaker, and former teacher, Ellen L. Buikema has written non-fiction for parents, and The Adventures of Charlie Chameleon chapter book series with stories encouraging the development of empathy—sprinkling humor wherever possible. Her Works In Progress are The Hobo Code, YA historical fiction and Crystal Memories, MG Magical Realism/ Sci-Fi.

Find her at https://ellenbuikema.com or on Amazon.

Tip Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay

9 comments on “How to Publish Poems and Prose in Magazines”

  1. The hint about not publishing on your blog is a good one.
    Would submitting to an online critique group be considered publishing?

    1. Hi!
      It is my understanding that private online critique groups are safe to use. I know writers who use them, both traditionally published and indie authors.

      If it's not a private venue, the work is at risk if you want to have the work published traditionally.

  2. As the managing editor of an on-line literary magazine, I second the point about following guidelines. I get 500+ entries yearly and am floored by the number that have obviously never read our guidelines. They send in work that exceeds the word count limit, is a PDF rather than the Word document we ask for, don't include any bio or author photo, etc.etc. Some even come with no identifying cover letter, just the story attached. All of this translates into non-professionalism before I've read word one.

  3. Also, some publications will claim ownership (not copyright) of the work in perpetuity, including the right to edit at will. Know before you agree if it's not something journalistic.

  4. My blog has been unavailable for years since Google wiped out all posts when they changed their system, I cannot get into it at all,wiped out. Would that be considered pre published material even though it’s unatainable? Thank you.
    Vicki Bieze

Subscribe to WITS

Recent Posts





Copyright © 2024 Writers In The Storm - All Rights Reserved