4 Ways to Get Your Work Published in Canadian Literary Magazines
Whether you’re a new or established writer, getting your work published can feel like a daunting task. Not only do you need to decide that your work is ready to be read and edited, but you also need to consider the tone, style, and requirements of the magazine you want to submit to. Some magazines accept digital submissions, but some require more formal paper submissions. Others may only publish work from certain genres, while some use specific prompts or themes. Even if you manage to format and submit everything properly, your work may not be accepted if it isn’t a match for the magazine’s style and sensibilities, or if it’s too similar (in themes, tone, voice, etc.) to other work they have already accepted.
Luckily, there are many ways to get published beyond simply waiting for a submission window. Below, we’ll outline four ways you can get your work published in a literary magazine.
1. Submit your work
Many Canadian literary magazines accept unsolicited submissions from writers throughout the year. Some magazines accept submissions at any time, while others will have directed windows. For example, EVENT generally has two open submission periods per year, one in late summer and one in winter. You can find more information about submitting to EVENT here.
If you’re looking for an opportunity to submit, you can either visit the website of the publication you want to contribute to, or you can use Submittable’s Discover feature to find out which magazines are accepting work. Following magazines on social media is also a good way to discover new submission opportunities.
If the magazine you’re interested in is currently closed for submissions, try joining their mailing list to be the first to know when things open back up. You can join EVENT’s mailing list here.
2. Enter a contest
Submitting your work to a literary contest can help you to publish your work and gain recognition at the same time. Most contests require a fee to submit, but winning work will be published by the magazine and winners usually receive a cash prize.
There are many Canadian literary magazine contests throughout the year in a range of genres. Here are some popular contests to look out for:
- Room Magazine (Contests for Poetry, Creative Non-Fiction, Short Forms, Cover Art, and Fiction)
- PRISM Magazine (Contests for Poetry, Creative Non-Fiction, Short Fiction, and Short Forms)
- EVENT Magazine (Annual Creative Non-Fiction Contest)
- Prairie Fire Magazine (Contests for Poetry, Short Fiction, and Creative Non-Fiction)
- The Malahat Review (Contests for Long Poems, Poetry, Sonnets, Short Fiction, and Creative Non-Fiction)
- The New Quarterly (Contests for Verse, Personal Essay, and Fiction)
If you don’t see your genre included in this list, try other markets such as Duotrope, the website of Poets & Writers Magazine, and the Canadian Writers’ Contest Calendar. You can also search on Submittable for more contest opportunities.
3. Pitch a review
Reviews are a great way to get your foot in the door of a literary magazine. Many magazines will accept unsolicited review pitches, though some only accept reviews from known reviewers.
If you have a review you’d like to write, try reaching out to your desired magazine directly to see if they are interested in publishing your work. Each magazine will have a different review format and style that needs to be adhered to. At EVENT, each of our reviews cover two or three books and we focus only on Canadian fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, particularly work published by small presses.
The magazine may also have a roster of books they are looking to have reviewed, so being flexible to their suggestions may improve your chances of acceptance. At EVENT, our reviews editor keeps a long list of interesting titles and likely has some ideas in mind for your potential review. We don’t accept already completed pieces of writing, so send us a pitch earlier on to see if your proposed titles and approach are a good fit.
If you’re interested in pitching a review to EVENT, you can reach our reviews editor, Marisa Grizenko, at email@example.com. Introduce yourself and include a sample of your writing. If you’re pitching specific titles, briefly explain what interests you about them. We especially encourage BIPOC, LGBTQ2S+, and disabled writers to get in touch.
4. Conduct interviews
Conducting author interviews is another option if you want to get published in a literary magazine. While some mags accept interviews from any author, others may prefer authors that have already been featured in their magazine. Before you start your interview, it’s a good idea to reach out to the magazine and ask them if they are interested in your pitch. If they aren’t, try shopping your interview around to different magazines and see if you get a hit.
Some magazines do not pay for website content, so be sure to ask about compensation if that’s something you’re looking for. It’s also a good idea to reach out to the author you want to interview before you speak with the magazine, as you’ll need buy-in from all parties before you can get things going.
Also, be sure to adhere to any style guidelines the magazine uses. Word count, images, bylines, and formatting should all be considered before starting your interview.
Don’t give up on the process
Remember that every literary magazine has unique preferences. It’s always a good idea to read a few copies of the magazine you want to publish in before sending off your work. Tailored submissions have a better chance of being published.
Similarly, many magazines have policies on what kind of work and who they will publish. For example, if a magazine is run by an educational institution that you are affiliated with, you may not be eligible to publish your work there. Always review a magazine’s editorial policies before sending off your work. You can find EVENT’s editorial policy here.
Finally, keep in mind that rejection is simply part of the writing process. If your first few pitches don’t work out, revise, rewrite, and try again somewhere else. Get creative with how, what, and where you submit. Practice patience, implement any feedback given, and eventually, your work will get you where you want to be.