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Professional Resources for Creative Writers

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Apart from the act of writing original creative works, a poet or writer must also be prepared to submit their work for publication. Finding journals and submitting work for publication can be an intimidating process. Choosing journals that publish work that is stylistically similar to your own will improve your chances of success, but it will also increase your chances if your work is presented in a professional manner.

There are two main genres of writing you’ll need to be familiar with to submit your work to journals: the inquiry letter and the biographical note.

Inquiry Letter

Similar to a cover letter for a job application, an inquiry letter serves to introduce you to the editors of a literary magazine before they read your submission. These letters will only receive a quick glance, so don’t belabor them. Your letter should be brief and contain these key components:

  • Your contact information
  • A greeting
  • A sentence or two telling the editors you read their magazine and think it’s a good fit for your work
  • If applicable: mention if you’ve had correspondence with the journal before (an encouraging rejection, asked to re-submit)
  • The title(s) of the piece or pieces you’re submitting
  • An indication if the work has been submitted elsewhere
  • A closing & signature
  • Your biographical note (see related page)

Biographical Note

A biographical note serves to inform readers about who you are & where they may be able to find more of your work. Additionally, if you read your poetry in public—either at a scheduled reading or at an open-mic—the person hosting the series will read your biographical note as a form of introduction before you take the stage. As such, a biographical note is usually quite short. It should typically be no more than two or three sentences. It should include:

  • Your name
  • Where you live or where you’re from (your choice—which place do you identify with?)
  • Your previous publications, starting with the most important (For instance, if you’ve published a chapbook or novel, that should come first. Otherwise, start with the most prestigious magazine you’ve been published in.)

Additionally, depending on where you’re submitting, there may be room for humor here; you could have a funny anecdote or wry description of yourself. But of course, you want to consider your audience—if you’re applying to a famous journal, consider leaving the humor out of your bio.