Monday, May 30, 2011

Yes, Summer Is a Quiet Time, But It Still Has a Pulse

For writers and poets eager to get their work into print, summertime can be a bit frustrating in that the vast majority of literary journals are directly or indirectly affiliated with colleges and universities; and thus their staffs take a break from reading (and also from the mundane bureaucracy of keeping track of incoming submissions) in the summer. However, "vast majority" is not "all," and there are journals that read during the quiet months of June, July and August. It just requires a bit more effort to find places to submit. In an earlier post, I talked said that when I became serious about getting my work into print, I vowed to make a minimum of six contacts per week. I managed to meet that number in the summer months, but it did require additional research.

When you start looking at submission guidelines, you discover that there are essentially two sorts of places that accept submissions in the summer: those that claim to actually read them (some of whom acknowledge that response times are slower in the summer), and those that accept submissions but say upfront that the submissions won't be read until the academic year commences. As I've said previously in this blog, it's important to read submission guidelines carefully, as there's no point in sending work to journal editors who say they don't want summer submissions; and by the same token, if you're truly "eager" to get work in print, you may want to think carefully before submitting to a journal that acknowledges its slow response time in the summer, or one that tells you your submission, while accepted, won't be read until fall.

By the way, it's worth mentioning that "summer" is a bit hazy (ha) -- meaning that the front- and tail-ends of reading periods tend to vary greatly. That is, one journal may stop reading at the end of April, another the end of May, another part way into June; and a journal may start reading again August 1, another September 1, or perhaps September 15 or later. So, again, read guidelines carefully.

A quick perusal of Duotrope's Digest's weekly email bulletin can give one a sense of the summertime submissions landscape. The bulletins list markets that have been added, ones that have opened or reopened to submissions, ones that have closed, and ones that seem to have dissolved or at least gone on indefinite hiatus. Here are some highlights from the most recent bulletin (this one tailored for fiction writers).

A Few Lines appears to be reading in the summer, and their editorial board "actively seeks emerging young writers."

Paper Nautilus reads year-round, but warns that their response time is slowest October through January (so this may be a good bet for the truly eager).

Stoked Press, which seeks a variety of types of work and which publishes them in a variety of print and electronic formats, appears to read year-round as well.

Caper Literary Journal reopened to submissions May 25. Caper, like Stoked Press, is looking to publish all kinds of creative material via all kinds of formats.

Also recently reopened to submissions is Knockout literary magazine. Note that its editors are "primarily looking for poetry," but they also want to see shorter prose pieces as well. They also emphasize that they are "as GLBT-friendly as ever."

These journals listed here tend to be start-up -- and up-start -- journals, and there's nothing wrong with that. Some writers/poets are mainly interested in more established (perhaps traditional) journals, and these sorts of summertime submission opportunities are more rare, but they do exist. A good source to begin one's search for the more established who may be reading in the summer is the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) database of members.

American Short Fiction, a highly respected journal, is open for submissions.

Granta reads year-found, but like all the well-established and well-respected journals, competition is, let's say, fierce.

Quiddity, a print journal that I helped found and now still read for, accepts submissions year-round.

Again, those more traditional/established possibilities exist, but it takes a bit of digging sometimes to unearth them.