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French author Jules Renard famously said: Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money. While this may be true, it’s certainly nice when you do make a little money from your poetry! Writer’s Relief knows that most literary journals are run by underpaid (or not-paid-at-all) editors who understand your struggle and would love to pay contributing writers, but it’s not always in the budget. We’ll explain why literary magazines so often can’t offer you money—and then give you the scoop on some journals that DO pay!

The Reasons Why Many Literary Journals Don’t Pay Poets

Running a journal is typically a labor of love—not money. Most literary journals are staffed by volunteers. And the many reputable, established journals run out of universities have tiny budgets.

The journal wants to keep submissions free. One of the ways literary magazines find the cash to pay writers is to charge an admin fee for submissions. The fees are usually very small, but many writers don’t want to—or aren’t able to—pay them.

Maintaining and publishing a literary journal is expensive. Online submission services like Submittable can be very helpful, but also costly. Literary journals also have to take into consideration the costs of hosting a website, not to mention the costs of publication if they offer print issues.

Editors try to keep the journal affordable for readers. Journals could pay poets if they charged more for their content. But having free or low-cost literary magazines is so crucial to the community, journals don’t often jump at this option. 

Literary Journals That Will Pay For Poetry

Some literary magazines are able to pay writers for poetry—anywhere from a small honorarium to a nice chunk of change:

AGNI

Boulevard

Carve Magazine

Crazyhorse

Colorado Review

Driftwood Press

EPOCH

The Gettysburg Review

Iowa Review

The Missouri Review

Nashville Review

Pedestal Magazine

Ploughshares

The Puritan

Rattle

Slice Magazine

The Southern Review

Subtropics

Sycamore Review

The Threepenny Review

West Branch

Willow Springs

Submitting Your Poetry To Journals Is Beneficial, Pay Or No Pay

Whether you’re paid for your poetry or not, getting published by a literary magazine can help you connect with other writers and puts your work in front of editors and readers. You might even be nominated for an award that will ultimately mean much more to your writing career than a couple of dollars!

QUESTION: Do you submit your work only to paying publications? Why or why not?

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Are publishers responsible for fact-checking the content of the books they publish? Or is it the author’s responsibility?

In an article on Vox, Writer’s Relief learned that CNN political commentator Sally Kohn’s book, The Opposite of Hate, has stirred up questions of accountability in publishing, thanks to controversies surrounding quoted materials from an interview.

Learn more about this publishing scandal.

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Every writer should try to attend a writing conference! And whether the writing conference is held on a rural college campus or in a bustling, big city hotel, it’s sure to be a wonderful, energizing experience. But if you’re thinking about combining your vacation with a writing conference, Writer’s Relief has a suggestion: Why not head for the islands? You can enjoy the sea breeze while honing your craft and relaxing at the water’s edge between sessions. A true writer’s paradise!

5 Writing Conferences With Island Destinations

Fiction & Autobiographical Fiction Writing Retreat, September 7-14, 2018

Irene Graham leads these focused workshops, starting on the Emerald Isle itself and then moving to Ireland’s Inis Mór Island. You’ll enjoy your own private en suite lodging, guided walks, visits to old pubs, and activities in Doolin, County Clare; Inis Mór in the Aran Islands; and Kinvara, County Galway.

Vancouver Writers Festival, October 15-25, 2018

Held on Granville Island in Vancouver, British Columbia, this festival welcomes both writers and readers to a variety of events with some of your favorite authors. Although the event does not include workshops, it does offer poetry and short story contests for adults and students.

Halloween Writer’s Bash, November 2-4, 2018

A three-day event held on Ossabaw Island, Georgia, the Halloween Writer’s Bash will offer workshops, seminars, readings, manuscript consultations, and ghost stories! Tuition for the long weekend also includes round-trip ferry transportation to and from the island plus lodging and meals while you are on the island. Application deadline is September 25.

Kauai Writers Conference, November 9-11, 2018

This writing conference, held at the Kauai Marriott Resort, Kalapaki Beach, Lihue, Hawaii, features an all-star lineup of classes taught by best-selling authors. Small group sessions and opportunities to pitch top-tier agents also are available. Pre-conference master classes are available the first week of November, followed by the conference itself.

Sanibel Island Writers Conference, November 8-11, 2018

On this island off the coast of Fort Myers Beach, Florida, you’ll enjoy a variety of workshops and discussions focused on fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, publishing, and editing. Classes are presented by well-known teachers. Current and aspiring authors are invited to work on new projects or complete previous work during the event.

You can find many more writing conferences with interesting locations in our Writers Classifieds—as well as the best listings of calls for submissions, contests, fellowships, and more! Subscribe today!

Question: Would you choose a writing conference based on the educational opportunities or the location?

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Insecurity is a writer’s archnemesis: It’s sneaky and underhanded. It can trash well-known literary giants and overwhelm beginners. It’s a big pile of your deepest vulnerabilities.

But Writer’s Relief is here to tell you that even though insecurity may win a few battles, you can win the war. Here’s how to toss insecurity over your shoulder and never look back!

The Best Tips For Writers Who Are Struggling With Insecurity

Get real. One of the worst side effects of insecurity is losing the ability to see yourself—and your writing—clearly. Insecurity makes you hate every word you write. It makes you hear slights and criticisms where none exist. It tricks you into thinking in absolute terms: I ALWAYS mess this up. I will NEVER get anyone to take my writing seriously. When negative thoughts distort reality like a fun house mirror, ask yourself these questions: Do I 100% know this thought/idea/interpretation to be true? Or is it just my insecurity warping things again? Learn to turn your negative emotions into creative jet fuel.

End the cycle. When insecurity is at its worst, it seems everywhere you look, you’re face-to-face with your worst feelings. Though it may seem as if intense self-scrutiny should answer problems, constant evaluation and reevaluation take up all the energy you might have otherwise used to create something new. If this sounds familiar to you, the solution to your insecurity might be to just stop thinking so darn much about your insecurity. Acknowledge it. Accept it. Then get back to writing.

Focus on the process. You’ve heard this before: Writing is its own reward. When you write, you’re winning. You’re doing what you truly want to do—and that’s success. You can’t control reader reactions, sales figures, or your family’s response to your efforts. The act of writing is the only thing a writer can ever really control in his or her career. And knowing that is actually pretty liberating!

Write through it. Sensing the unpleasant smell of insecurity wafting into your nostrils? Write anyway. Agonizing over the “not very nice” critique from the new member of your writing group? Write anyway. Feeling like every word you write is rubbish? Write anyway. The BEST solution for feeling insecure about your writing is simple: more writing. Attend writing conferences and workshops. Eventually, you’ll write your way through to the other side of your insecurity. But if you quit—well, that’s the end.

Ask for help. Here at Writer’s Relief, our team of submission strategists has been helping creative writers connect with literary agents and literary magazine editors since 1994. And it’s worth mentioning that a number of clients have come to us feeling very insecure about making submissions. In fact, some writers quit entirely before reaching out to us. The submission process was just too emotionally painful for them; every rejection letter felt like an indictment. But with the help and guidance of Writer’s Relief, many clients report feeling much more confident about their submissions—and their writing.

The Double-Edged Sword Of Insecurity

Some writers never stop feeling a certain amount of insecurity about writing. And honestly, a little bit of self-doubt can make you a better writer. A writer who is too convinced of his or her greatness isn’t open to suggestions or creative criticism. But a smidge of uncertainty will push you to reach for new ideas and to express your thoughts in creative, new ways. Insecurity only becomes a problem when it holds you back instead of propelling you forward.

So if your insecurity is slightly annoying but not necessarily causing trouble, don’t worry about it. You’re no different than most writers who put their hearts on the page for all to see (and judge). Focus on the process—on the writing. That’s what will get you through.

Question: What advice would you give another writer struggling with insecurity? What advice would you give yourself? Post it for others to see in our comments section!

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E-readers were supposed to revolutionize the book business—and in many ways, they have! But in this Good E-Reader article found by Writer’s Relief, more and more readers claim to be returning to print books.

In 2011, Kindle shipments rocketed to 23.2 million. However, after a dramatic decline in 2012, and a steady decline ever since, Amazon shipped just 7.1 million Kindles in 2016.

Find out if this is the end of the e-reader bubble.

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You’ve written, rewritten, proofed, and polished your short story or poetry. Now comes the part that leaves many writers quaking in their boots—getting your work published. It’s time to submit your writing to literary journals!

Initially, literary magazines favored the print format; so did writers. But these days, Writer’s Relief knows that savvy writers appreciate the advantages of publication in online literary journals. And since the Internet has made it possible to produce great periodicals without enormous financial outlays, many respected literary journals—from magazines created by individual editors to big, well-known publications staffed by important contemporary writers at large universities—are choosing to publish online. Here’s what you need to know about submitting your work to these literary journals.

Where To Find The Right Literary Journals For Your Writing

There are more literary magazines online and in print than there have ever been before. Here’s the good news: Because there are so many great publications now, you may be more likely to find a home for your creative writing. But there’s a little bit of bad news too: Identifying the right literary magazine for your submission can be extremely time-consuming. Finding the one editor who is going to love your short story or poem means weeding through the thousands who won’t.

If you are taking a DIY method, consider subscribing to a reputable database of literary markets and publishing opportunities. If you’re looking for the fastest way to find market listings for literary journals, check out our Writers Classifieds. Our listings have been designed especially for creative writers, with easy-to-skim and easy-to-sort info that does not require lengthy page loads. You can also find a list of literary journals right here.

But if you’d rather spend your time writing instead of researching literary markets, a partnership with Writer’s Relief may work for you. Writer’s Relief has been helping creative writers get published since 1994. We help book authors connect with literary agents through strong query letters and proposals. And we help poets, short story writers, and essayists find the best literary journals and magazines. You do the writing; we do the  hours of research. Learn more.

The Top Ten Essentials For Getting Published In A Literary Magazine:
  1. Do not share or publish your writing anywhere on the Internet prior to seeking publication with a literary journal. Most editors will not consider previously published writing (in any form).
  2. Follow submission guidelines.
  3. Don’t explain your story or poem in your cover letter.
  4. Know your market by reading samples, checking out masthead and bylines, and more.
  5. Don’t include the copyright symbol (it’s not good etiquette in the publishing industry).
  6. Trust your instincts. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  7. Embrace rejection. It happens to every writer and is part of the submission process.
  8. Find a great proofreader.
  9. Research, research, research (in part to be sure your target market is trustworthy).
  10. Format your submission to industry standards: no fancy fonts, spacing, or colors.

Can You Make Money Submitting Short Stories And Poems For Publication In Literary Journals?

Unfortunately, there is not much money to be made from publishing short stories and poems in literary magazines. Many journals operate on a tight budget — if there’s any real budget at all. Very few actually turn a profit.

The Rights Literary Magazines Will Acquire

When a literary magazine publishes your short story or poem, it usually acquires first North American serial rights. Essentially, this means the publication will be the first to publish the work in North America, and after that, all rights revert to the writer. Learn more about literary magazine contracts.

Can New Writers Really Get Published In Literary Journals?

There is a myth in the publishing industry that “you have to be published to get published.” But that’s not true! Literary journal editors love discovering new writers. And getting published in the literary magazine market is one of the best ways to establish a toehold in the larger publishing industry. Many new writers make a name for themselves through literary magazine publications.

Question: What is your best tip for submitting your writing to literary magazines? Please share with our readers in the comments section.

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 When you think of London, you might think of London Bridge, Big Ben, and Westminster Abby. Here at Writer’s Relief, we think of Platform 9 ¾! And if you love books as much as we do, you’ll want to visit London’s only floating bookstore, Word on the Water.

Learn more about the canal boat bookstore here.

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At Writer’s Relief, one of our favorite summertime activities is watching Fourth of July fireworks displays! For writers, fireworks can be symbolic for both your story and your characters. Some of our favorite films have featured fireworks in ways that illuminate (no pun intended) both plot and character in inspiring ways!

Writers: Fireworks Moments To Spark Your Creativity

Spoiler Alert: This article may contains spoilers for the films listed below. While these films have been around for a while, we want to be considerate of people who haven’t seen them yet.

Adventureland

 

Adventureland | '4th of July' (HD) - Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart | MIRAMAX - YouTube

Set in a theme park during 1987, Adventureland is about two park employees, James and Em. During the park’s annual Fourth of July celebration, the two cuddle up to watch the display and express their feelings for one another. With “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House playing in the background, the fireworks lighting up the sky set off sparks of romance between the two young lovers.

Brokeback Mountain

Heath Ledger's famous "Brokeback Mountain" kick - YouTube

This epic love story between Jack and Ennis in rural Wyoming follows their individual lives and marriages. At one point in the film, Ennis is at a fireworks display with his wife and kids when a drunk biker questions his sexual orientation. Ennis reacts with a burst of violence as the fireworks explode behind him.

 

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (3/5) Movie CLIP - Fireworks (2007) HD - YouTube

During the fifth installment of the Harry Potter film series, Hogwarts is overtaken by the tyrannical Dolores Umbridge, whose overly stringent rules and borderline sadistic methods of punishment create an atmosphere of fear and anxiety. Leave it to the prankster Weasley twins, Fred and George, to rebel spectacularly. Flying into an exam hall on broomsticks, the Weasley twins throw magical fireworks that chase Umbridge out of the room and shatter all the frames holding her many decrees. Finally, the twins make their grand exit leaving a dazzling “W” in their wake. Now that’s how you spark a revolution!

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

LOTR: The Fellowship of the RIng - Giant Dragon Firework - YouTube

The Hobbits gather to celebrate the 111th birthday of Bilbo Baggins. It’s also the 33rd birthday celebration, or “Coming of Age,” for his nephew Frodo Baggins. The wizard Gandalf contributes his fireworks to the celebration, which impress the Hobbits by shaping into trees, birds, and ships. Of course, no fireworks display is complete without a grand finale. Gandalf concludes the spectacle by showing off a dragon firework that swoops through the air and explodes into a brilliant series of fireworks. A celebration to remember, indeed!

Toy Story

Toy Story ending - YouTube

In this classic Disney/Pixar film, Buzz Lightyear lands in the clutches of next-door neighbor Sid, and Woody sets out to rescue him. The stakes are raised when the destructive Sid straps Buzz to a rocket with the intent of making him explode. However, Woody is eventually able to use the same rocket to bring both him and Buzz to safety, proving that rockets can be both a source of destruction and reparation.

Question: What is your favorite fireworks moment in film?

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Few literary agents expect query letters to be 100% perfect—especially if the author is new. That said, most literary agents DO expect a certain level of competence and a fundamental understanding of publishing industry etiquette. If you’re a writer hoping to get a book published, Writer’s Relief explains the query letter mistakes you must avoid.

9 Things Writers Do Wrong In Query Letters

Ignore submission guidelines. Most literary agents accept that people make mistakes, and some are even willing to overlook submission errors if a project is really, really great. In certain instances, a writer might even decide to purposely break a query etiquette rule for good reason. But if you’re going to ignore submission guidelines, be sure to weigh the risks against the potential payoffs.

Spell a literary agent’s name incorrectly and/or botch gender. Writer, your reputation depends on your command of words. So misspelling a literary agent’s name is a pretty serious faux pas. Also, do not assume that “Michael” is a man’s name or that “Kelly” is a woman. To avoid embarrassing mistakes, we suggest query letter salutations appear as follows: “Dear First Name Last Name.”

Fancify the formatting. Most literary agents prefer that you skip the bells and whistles of decorative formatting and instead let your text speak for itself. And besides, simple formatting is standard in the publishing industry.

Mislabel genre. Literary agents understand that some books do not fit neatly into a traditional genre format. If the book genre you choose is in the right ballpark, you’re probably okay.

Bungle the word count. If you’re seeking a literary agent to help you secure a traditional publisher, then nailing an industry-standard word count is important. There’s not much a literary agent can do with a 300,000-word self-help book (except maybe use it as a doorstop).

Go long. A query should be one page long—and no more. No, you are not the exception. Bury your best talking points in long, verbose paragraphs, and literary agents will have tossed your query long before getting to the good stuff. Embrace bite-size sentences and snack-sized paragraphs (after all, agents are reading fast). Learn more about how to shorten your query letter.

Overexplain. Good literary agents are smart readers. They know how to infer your book’s themes and concerns from your story and plot. They can tell where you are in your publishing career based on the facts in your author bio—without your spelling it out for them. They also don’t need you to elaborate on why you became a writer to begin with, unless that information is specifically relevant to the book in question.

Complain. For many writers, it’s a struggle to fit the book blurb and author bio onto a single page. If you waste even one line of your letter grumbling about how difficult it is to become a writer…or how people in the publishing industry don’t have time for new authors…or that the publishing world has let you down…you’ll give agents the impression you are not the optimistic go-getter they are hoping to represent. And who wants to work with someone who already seems to be whiny? Learn more about how to handle awkward topics in query letters.

Skip proofreading. If your query letter arrives at a literary agent’s office full of typos and grammar errors, then chances are it will be deleted very quickly. Your letter-writing skill will reflect on your book-writing abilities!

Some Great News About Literary Agents That You Need To Know

When you start reading all the rules of query letter writing, it may seem as if literary agents are mustache-twirling Svengalis who get their jollies by rejecting new writers on technicalities. But keep in mind that most literary agents go into publishing not because they hope to make a fortune, but because they love books—and the people who write them. They want you to succeed as much as you want you to succeed. Use common sense to avoid simple mistakes, and your query will be in a great position to shine.

Question: Which of the above points on our list do you think is easiest for new writers to overlook?

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Writing is one of those pursuits where you’re pretty much in charge of your own schedule. There’s no employee manual, no time card, no boss breathing down your neck, pushing you to get that novel finished (unless you’re lucky enough to have a publisher waiting for book #2!). This makes the writing life attractive for many, but the lack of structure can be a challenge.

Setting writing goals is one way to create structure in the writing life. But at Writer’s Relief, we know it’s important that these goals are attainable, realistic, and authentic. Since it’s human nature to judge ourselves by our achievements, setting—and failing to meet—unrealistic objectives puts our self-esteem and our motivation at risk. (Just what writers need, right?)

So, if goal-setting helps you take charge of your writing, make sure the goals are good ones—specific and attainable and from your heart!

Five mistakes writers make when setting their writing goals:
  1. Mistaking dreams for goals. “I will be a famous novelist” is a dream, not a measurable goal—although dreams do provide the impetus for goal-setting. Break this aspiration into concrete, time-sensitive steps, or it will probably stay just a dream.

  1. Setting unrealistic goals. If your goal is to get rich and famous, you’re definitely in the wrong business. If your goal is to land a top-notch literary agent, it may be unrealistic if you’ve written only a handful of poems in your life. Aim high, but add a good dose of realism to your goals so you don’t derail yourself before you even get started.

  1. Setting vague goals. If your goal is to “get published,” be more specific for better results. Vow to develop a detailed submission strategy with a time frame, and you’re far more likely to reach your publication goal.

  1. Setting uncontrollable goals. Landing a literary agent is not entirely within your control, but doing careful research to identify the best agents for your work and creating a dynamite query letter are measurable things you can control. (Writer’s Relief can help!)

  1. Setting goals with vague time frames. You may vow to “write more this year,” but you’re more likely to follow through with time-specific goals like “Write for 30 minutes each morning” or “Journal four times per week.”

Management Review introduced the concept of S.M.A.R.T. goals—objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, and Time-based. The theory? People are more likely to achieve goals that are “smart” versus goals that are vague and undefined.

Here’s how creative writers can set SMART goals

Weak goal:                  Be a better writer.

Smart goal:                  Take two creative writing classes this year and join a critique group.

Weak goal:                  Leave a legacy.

Smart goal:                  Self-publish a cookbook/memoir/family history book by October.

Weak goal:                  Make a name for myself.

Smart goal:                  Beef up my author platform through weekly social media updates and blog posts.

Weak goal:                  Become a poet.

Smart goal:                  Submit X number of poems to literary magazines per month.

Weak goal:                  Make a living as a writer.

Smart goal:                  Create a financial plan with specific income goals and ways to meet them.

Weak goal:                  Become a part of the writing community.

Smart goal:                  Attend a writing conference and join a writers group.

Weak goal:                  Get published.

Smart goal:                  Develop a killer submission plan.

Want more goal-setting help? Check out our workbook, The Goal-Oriented Writer, to establish a plan to reach your writing goals. You can get your copy by submitting your work for Review Board consideration (consideration is free, with no obligations to join our client list). But hurry! This book may not be free forever!

QUESTION: What has been your most successful writing goal—and how did you stick to it?

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