Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College’s literary magazine, Pegasus,is now open for submissions to the 2012 issue of the magazine. If you’re a high school or college student currently enrolled in a Georgia high school, college, or university, then Pegasus wants your work. Please visit http://www.abac.edu/pegasus/submit.htm for full guidelines.
Many young writers are new to the submission process and are often unaware of the various ground rules and unspoken expectations that go along with submitting to literary magazines. Below, I’ve listed out a few of these conventions for newbie writers who might need this kind of information. Veteran writers: please correct or add to these suggestions in the comments below.
Formatting your submission: For poetry submissions, put only one poem on a page. Typographically, space out your poem exactly as you would like to see it in print (don’t double-space unless you mean it). If your poem is longer than a page, use brackets to note stanza breaks (or lack thereof). Use a standard 12-point font (no Comic Sans). Be certain that your contact information appears on each page of poetry.
For prose submissions, double space everything. Be certain that you include your contact information on the first page. Number your pages.
For art submissions, we at Pegasus require high-quality .jpeg or .gif files (300 dpi). This means that you can't send us a picture that you took with your cell phone camera. Visual and plastic artists: send us high-quality digital photographs of your work.
Cover letters: In the publishing world, some editors like cover letters and some don’t. To be safe, I always include a cover letter with all submissions. At Pegasus, we like cover letters because we want to know a bit about the writers we’re publishing—a cover letter is an easy way to see if a potential author is eligible for publication in our journal. Cover letters shouldn’t be overly-long. Something simple is much better than a long list of everything you’ve ever done. You might write something like:
Dear Pegasus Editors,
Per your submission guidelines, I’ve uploaded my story “Bat’s Belfry” to Submishmash as a submission to Pegasus. Currently, I’m a sophomore English major at Georgia Southern University. I hope to one day be a high school English teacher. Last year, the literary magazine Jump It published my poem “Robin’s Egg.”
Thank you for reading my work. I look forward to hearing back from you.
Short, sweet, respectful, and to-the-point: a good example what we at Pegasus expect in a cover letter. Submitters can feel free to address the cover letter to Matt McCullough, the current managing editor, or to me, Jeff Newberry, faculty advisor and advisory editor.
Note: some literary magazines want you to write your bio in third person; others don’t specify. If you’re really confused about how to write one, take a look at some contributors’ notes online. Mimic what you see there.
Response time: Pegasus is a yearly publication. We publish each spring to coincide with Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College’s annual celebration of the arts and humanities. Although submissions open in August of each year, we don’t make any decisions until January, usually. This means that once you’ve submitted your work, you may not hear back from us for a pretty good while. Don’t worry; we’ve not lost your submission. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible. Some pieces we accept very quickly; with others, the decision can take a bit of time.
Writers should resist the temptation to email any editor about the status of a submission unless four-six months have passed with no contact from the magazine. Asking about the status of a submission isn’t necessarily wrong (though some journals expressly ask writers not to contact the editor until a certain amount of time has passed). Rather, emailing the editor might result in a quick rejection. The editor might think, “Well, we were on the fence about this submission, but clearly the writer has had some luck placing it elsewhere.”
And please, don’t call to ask about your submission.
Simultaneous submissions: As a writer, I rarely send to a place that doesn’t accept simultaneous submissions, a term that means the journal allows writers to submit the same manuscript to them that the writer has sent to others. This way, the writer has to contact all the other journals to withdraw the manuscript, should it be accepted.
Because Pegasus uses Submishmash, we have no rule against simultaneous submissions. Writes just need to log in to their account and withdraw any manuscript accepted elsewhere.
Read the submission guidelines: By this I mean, read the submission guidelines to any journal to which you’re submitting. Treat the guidelines like Gospel truth.
I hope these tips help clear up a few things for the newbie writer hoping to place her manuscript with a journal. These suggestions aren’t meant to scare away potential authors. Understand that editors want to read your work. However, as a young writer first starting out, I had no idea how to submit. I’m merely trying to make explicity what so many editors and writers assume is common knowledge.
Please, send your work to Pegasus. And please, spread the word to other writers. We’d love to read your writing. Visit http://www.abac.edu/pegasus for more information.
O for a muse of fire,