I’m about to begin a new series of posts on literary journals — the places where I hope to see my work published in the near future.
After reading plenty of journals over the years, I’ve recently started paying attention to their submission guidelines. One bit of advice can be found in nearly all of them: before sending us your story, read one of our issues to find out if your story’s a good fit for us. An evaluation, in other words, a process which to me requires writing, the use of my critical faculties. Writing provides an additional benefit; should I forget my impression of a journal in the future, I can go to my blog for a refresher.
The term literary journal will be used in these posts in the broadest possible sense — any publication that offers short fiction to readers on a regular basis will be considered a literary journal. This includes not just journals but magazines, reviews, ezines etc., as well as publications that not only don’t publish “literature,” but take their non-literary aesthetic as a point of pride.
Information about each literary journal will be provided in the following categories:
- Where they are published, including college affiliation where one exists
- What they say about themselves — whether it’s from their submission guidelines, editor’s page, or some other place, I want to provide each journal’s own words on what they publish
- Genre(s) — many journals declare their genre in the publication title (e.g., when you pick up The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction you pretty much know what to expect), but a title like Sequestrum isn’t nearly as revealing
- Issue reviewed — many journals have themed issues, which can potentially distort an evaluation of the journal’s genre; however, with so many journals available, I need to limit my reviews to a single issue of each journal. I’ll make note of themed issues where appropriate.
- One Story I Really Liked — in my years of reading literary journals, there’s always been at least one story in every issue that’s lingered in my memory, and I’d like to use these posts to give these stories the attention they deserve
- Helicopter Rating — inspired by Benjamin Percy’s advice that every story must contain some page-turning element, each journal will be awarded from one to four Exploding Helicopters, based on the balance of interiority and action among its stories:
- Profanometer — I struggled to name this category, so a rebranding at some point is likely. This rating reflects the journal’s use of profanity, obscenity, cursing, adult language, and plain ol’ cussing, indicated by the following ratings:
- Gee Willikers — the stories use hardly any words you wouldn’t want your mother to read
- Dammit — a few choice words, perhaps even a f-bomb or two, but used to reveal character or provide some other literary effect
- Sonovabitch — the language is consistently rough, yet appropriate within the world of each story
- Shitfuck — if you look hard enough, you might be able to find a story amidst all the profanity
This is mostly an exercise for my benefit, a way of making sense out of the vast and extremely diverse marketplace for short fiction, but as you can tell by the last two categories, I also plan to have a little fun along the way. I hope you find these reviews entertaining as well.