Australian writers have access to both new and established journals here and overseas that specialise in fiction, poetry, literary writing, fantasy, science fiction, horror, crime, new and innovative writing, writing by young people and more. There are many literary journals published in Australia and submitting short stories or poems is a smart way of breaking into the industry and getting your work out there.
The right fit
Of course, not all journals are the same. Your genre and style of writing will determine on which ones to submit your work to. You may already have a favourite journal in mind, but to find out about others in the Australian Writer’s Marketplace online directory. It’s also a good idea to visit libraries and bookshops and search online to get a solid overview of all possible titles. Writing NSW has a collection of literary journals in our members’ library. Members can normally make an appointment to browse our collection by calling (02) 9555 9757, however due to Covid the library will not be available until further notice.
New magazines and journals are starting up all the time, looking for fresh words to fill their pages. Subscribe to newsletters of writers’ organisations and watch for submission callouts. Writing NSW has a free weekly electronic newsletter, Newsbite, with an entire section devoted to opportunities for writers. Sign up to our weekly newsletter.
Research your chosen publication
Once you’ve pinpointed the publication that you believe to be the best fit for your work you should read it thoroughly to ensure you’re familiar with its ‘voice’. Start by reading the last couple of issues and look at things such as, style, tone, recurring themes and whether the journal has published similar stories to your own.
Often a journal will not accept work that has been previously published. Some journals will not accept work that is currently being considered elsewhere. Different journals have different policies on what ‘published’ means but this will often include online publications, including on personal websites. For this reason, it is important to consider whether you want your work to appear anywhere else before publishing it online. Be wary of journals that try to prevent you from publishing your work elsewhere after it has appeared in their publication.
Journals may seek to do this by purchasing the copyright of your work. We generally recommend against selling your copyright. For more information, see our Copyright resource sheet.
To avoid inadvertently submitting the same work to multiple journals, keep a diary of your submissions to track of where your work has been sent. Individual journals will have their own specific submission guidelines and you should always follow these exactly so as to give yourself the best possible chance of being published. If the publication doesn’t list specific guidelines, or format requirements, you should use the standard industry guidelines:
- White A4 paper
- Double line spacing
- Indented paragraphs
- 12 point font
- Times New Roman font
- Wide margins (at least 3cm)
Along with your submission, send a short cover letter including the title of your story, its length, past writing achievements and your contact details. You may be able to email your submission, and some journals may prefer or only accept digital submissions so make sure to check.
See upcoming short story, poetry and narrative non-fiction courses with Writing NSW via our course page here>>
Have you tried an on-demand course with Writing NSW? It’s learning you can do at any time and at your own pace, at an affordable price. Learn at your own pace with Getting Started with Writing Short Stories, with Ryan O’Neill and Developing Your Voice in Fiction and Non-Fiction with Lee Kofman.
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