Saturday, November 27, 2010

My three favorite resources for finding outlets

With new print and (especially) online magazines launching weekly, finding a publisher for your story, creative essay, or poetry may not be as daunting as it at first seems. You can of course use search engines like Google or Bing to troll for places to send your work, but I've found three resources that are extraordinarily informative and, hence, helpful when looking for places to send a story, essay, poem, or excerpt from a longer work: Duotrope's Digest,, and the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses' member directory. I'm listing Duotrope first because I think it is the most useful, but only by a little bit as the other two are excellent also -- writers and poets would be well served by consulting all three whenever they're hunting for a publishing outlet.

Before discussing each of these further, let me insert a couple of notes. I keep using the word "outlet" (in this and other posts, and in fact in the secondary title to this blog), and I mainly mean journals/magazines (interchangeable terms as I'm using them). But an outlet could be an independent or small-press publisher; though these are primarily of interest to someone who's shopping a book-length, or chapbook-length, manuscript. Yet there are other kinds of outlets. I've heard of publishers who use the sides of city buses, buildings, and billboards to publish poems and microfiction, and on a smaller scale, bookmarks, postcards, and posters. The resources for finding outlets I'm discussing include these sorts of opportunities as well.

One other note: I'm speaking as if you can only look online for potential outlets, and that's not true. There are printed sources, too. For years writers and poets relied on books published by Writers Digest -- specifically Novel & Short Story Writer's Market and Poet's Market -- and they're still available (I just checked Amazon to make sure). I used to buy the new NSSWM every year, as both are updated annually. As I discussed in an earlier post, I took a hiatus from creative writing and publishing for a few years while I worked on my Ph.D., and I returned to actively shopping my work in 2008. One of the first things I did was buy the 2008 NSSWM, and it still worked -- in fact, I used it to place a story with The Chariton Review -- but in general I found it to be a bit untrustworthy. The process it takes to produce books like NSSWM and Poet's Market (including getting information from editors/publishers, verifying that information, correcting that information, verifying it again, etc.) is lengthy, and meanwhile the markets change quickly (to put it mildly), so the books tend to be printed with inaccuracies, through no fault of their editors. New journals launch, others disband, many change their contact information or reading period -- it's just hard to keep up when the process takes several months to produce a reference book.

Websites, on the other hand, tend to be much more accurate. You'll run into journal websites that haven't been updated for years, but the vast majority of journals and publishers see their websites as vital points of contact with their readers and contributors, so they do a good job of keeping them up to date. Here then are the resources I like to use when looking for potential outlets:

Duotrope's Digest: This site provides a plethora of information, and its staff works diligently to keep the information up-to-the-minute accurate. The site offers all sorts of services that are worth looking into, but my favorite aspect is that once you register with Duotrope, they send you weekly email updates to let you know of new outlets, ones that have opened to submissions, ones that have closed, ones that have stopped publishing altogether, and so forth. In addition to the email updates, you can of course use Duotrope's database to search for specific sorts of publishers (ones that publish only poetry or only fiction, for examples). The service is free, but they strongly encourage donations in order to keep the service free. Again, check out Duotrope's Digest; it has a lot to offer any writer or poet, not just those who are beginning to publish their work. NewPages is also excellent, as it too offers an abundance of up-to-date information. One of my favorite features is their literary magazine reviews, where staff writers take an in-depth look at a small-circulation or online journal, and discuss things like its design, style, and editorial leanings. When you're actively hunting for an outlet, their Calls for Submissions link is very handy. Again, there's a lot at NewPages, and you should spend some quality time getting to know the site and all that it has to offer.

Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP): CLMP's searchable member directory is a tremendous resource as well. Literary magazines and small presses purchase membership with CLMP, then their websites (in nearly all cases) are linked in its member directory. It's up to you to go through the links, which take you to the websites of each magazine or press, and see what they're looking for and their deadlines, etc., but CLMP brings them all together in one alphabetical list. Also, because they're a paying member of CLMP, it suggests that the magazine or press is serious about its mission and will treat contributors professionally. Like with Duotrope and NewPages, you should spend some time figuring out how the CLMP directory operates and how it could be of use to your search.

As I stated earlier, I use all three when I'm actively searching for an outlet for my writing. You'll find some overlap of course, but there are journals, for example, that may be listed in only one of the three resources; and it pays to be thorough.

That's plenty to digest (ha) for now. In the meantime, keep loving those words.

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