Tuesday Tip: Read One Literary Magazine Cover to Cover

Tuesday Tips is a new category of posts here at Writerly Life that will be appearing every Tuesday. It’s a series of concrete tips for improving or kickstarting your writing. The tips that fall into this category are the sorts that you can do today or even right now, and they’re chosen to immediately re-vitalize your writing in some small (but meaningful!) way.

This week’s tip is:

Read a literary magazine cover to cover

If you’re on the publishing trail, as many fledgling (or veteran) writers are, you’ve spent at least some time sending stories or poems out to literary magazines. You’ve probably pored over your Writer’s Market or the online lit mag databases. And you’ve done your fair share of submitting blindly as well, sending hopeful stories out to magazines you just haven’t read. After all, who has the time or the money to subscribe to and read them all? There are so many good literary magazines out there, and we’d be honored to have our work appear in them, but we just don’t read them enough.

The fact remains, though, that we’ll have a much better chance of getting published in these magazines if we actually take the time to read some of them. We can get to know the style and voice of a magazine, understand what they’re looking for, and send out stories more intelligently. On top of that, magazines are meant to be read, and there are some amazing stories out there just waiting to be discovered. So this week, pick up just one magazine, sit down, and read it thoughtfully, the way you would a novel. Appreciate the stories that have been collected there. You’ll enjoy yourself — and learn more about where your story fits in the publishing world.


  1. Excellent suggestion. The Red Rock Review has published some of the finest stories I’ve read. Your story was good, Blair, but I’m also thinking of work by Susan Vreeland, James Fant, Gary McLouth, Ellen Heise, H. Lee Barnes, Olivier Morteau, William Luvaas, and others. And even though they’ve rejected my work, I also recommend New Letters, The Long Story, Prairie Schooner, The Colorado Review, River Styx, dislocate, Ploughshares, PANK, Other Voices (defunct?), and far too many others to name here.

  2. mary brady says:

    I subscribed to The Southern Review (Louisiana State Univ.) & I was simply knocked out by the quality of the magazine. It included excellent fiction & non-fiction, & some truly great poetry.

    What really surprised me was the visual art included. Winter, 2011, has some astounding oil paintings that still inspire me.

    I notice, too, that there IS a definite ‘southern’ feel to the contents, usually. It’s like visiting a different land to read it, especially since Katrina hit.

    And I love reading the annual Pushcart anthology. Humans are so incredibly talented. It’s wonderful.

    L&K, MerryB

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