Submit the work that you feel strongest, biggest, or sharpest about.
Whatever you do, don’t wait until you feel 100% certain that your strongest, biggest, or sharpest work is 100% ready. Instead, wait until you are 75% certain that your strongest, biggest, or sharpest work is as ready as it can be at this point in your life as a writer, right now, today.
If you aren’t sure how to hit 75% certainty, humbly solicit the responses of writer and non-writer friends, mentors, or acquaintances who are familiar with your work. Respond to these responses with revision and ideas of your own. Then submit.
Literary Magazine Submission Tips Submitted to Myself, by Joseph Scapellato (Gulf Coast)
Believe in your poems. Prepare to send poems out to many places; prepare to have buckets of “rejections.” Find a grim pride and pleasure in those buckets. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to have a poem in the Pushcart anthology. That poem was ejected by seventeen journals before it found a publisher.
The logic of my advice might well be: persevere and you are much more likely to succeed. And I think that’s true. But I encourage writers to believe in their work because publication can’t and finally doesn’t validate poems. The more reason you can find in yourself to love of your own work, the better suited you will be to weather the vicissitudes of this business, and the happier you will be.
Yes, the editor is a gate-keeper, controlling entrée to something you want, but that is really of more importance to you than to the editor. The editor’s eye is on the magazine.
You, of course, are a writer. Let’s say you are just starting to send out. You are thinking, Am I any good? Will this make people I love believe I’m worthwhile? Is that third paragraph unnecessary as R said in workshop, but I still like it, and if I keep it, and my story gets published then that will show R, but what if R is right after all? Is this my first step to fame and glory? Am I a genius? Am I in fact too good for this magazine I’m sending to or not good enough? Am I an idiot? Will my parents stop suggesting other jobs I could do given my education? Will strangers want to sleep with me because of my prose? Etc. etc.
None of this is of interest to the editor. Remember the editor’s deepest wish: Send something perfect for us, please.
What Editors Want; A Must-Read for Writers Submitting to Literary Magazines, by Lynne Barrett (The Review Review)