Twenty-Two Great Magazines That Don't Accept Online Submissions

Once upon a time I wouldn't even consider submitting to a literary magazine online. I loved the tactile nature of the acceptance (or, much much more often, the rejection slip).

Not that I ever went full Leon Barlow, plastering the rejections all over as bathroom wallpaper to fuel my drive, I just liked having the physical paper, almost like it was proof that I tried.

Fear of Rejection:

By now, I hope, everyone reading this has either gotten over their fear of being rejected or were able to embark upon the publishing pathway somehow extra thick-skinned, but just in case anyone out there has any worry about being 'rejected' just know that most magazines receive so much work that they couldn't publish it all if they wanted to. They couldn't publish a tenth of what they get and sometimes it's closer to 1/500th. If a bi-annual journal only publishes say ten poems each issue, and they receive 1000 submissions a month, they'd need 600 years to publish one year's worth of submitted poems.

Even good poems get rejected every day, sometimes for uncontrollable reasons like a similar piece had already been accepted for that issue or there was a rash of amazing poems submitted a month before which makes it even more difficult to get your poem published then and there.

We good? Everyone ready to research and submit their hearts out?

So let's talk about the good things about snail mail submissions, also known as hard copy submissions or postal submissions. There's only one, really, but it's the joy of opening that acceptance letter. When I got my first acceptance to The Southern Review I started jumping up and down right there at the mailbox battery of our apartment complex startling the other mail-opening residents. It's like an unexpected Christmas present.

Back when I was annotating every inch of Poet's Market there were very few journals that took online submissions, but now you're hard-pressed to find journals that still rely on the good old Postal Service to transport your words. Of course there are negatives inherent with postal submissions namely being the chance of loss along the way. You can include a SASP (self addressed and stamped postcard) for notification of receipt to ensure that the journal did receive your submission in addition to the SASE for their response, but then you're spending even more on postage. However, it would've saved me some trouble this past year when I submitted a story to a journal that shall remain nameless (but is on the list) that doesn't accept online submissions or simultaneous submissions resulting in a story of mine being completely out of the submission cycle for nearly nine months before I contacted the journal only to discover they never received it.

What You Need:

If you're not familiar with postal submissions here's a quick breakdown of how to do it. You will need four things:

  • a 9x11" manila envelope, 
  • a standard sized envelope addressed to yourself with regular first class postage (a forever stamp works just dandy for the SASE), 
  • your writing with a cover letter (include page numbers and a header with your contact information on each page, paper clip multiple-page pieces as opposed to stapling them), 
  • and to take a trip to the post office to make sure you have the proper postage. If you wanna risk a return, you can use the USPS postage calculator, but you might as well just work a quick trip to the post office into your day, you get exact postage and it goes right out.

22 Literary Magazines That Don't Read Online Submissions:

Alaska Quarterly Review: Almost to its 35th anniversary, this long-running journal from the University of Alaska Anchorage publishes an eclectic mix of masters and unknown writers, though perhaps a little heavier on the well known writers. One especially nice aspect of AQR is their poetry guidelines only specify a number of pages which, as a writer of short poems, I really appreciate.

The Antioch Review: Founded way back in 1941 at Antioch College in Ohio, this journal is the second oldest on the list. It frequently publishes pieces that will later go on to win prizes or be featured in prize-winning collections.

Apalachee Review: Apalachee Press is a non profit from Tallahassee that has been publishing the review for over a decade and still going strong.

Arroyo Literary Review: The youngest of our non-electronic submission journals (anti-snail mail submission? Hard-copy only submissions?) this journal is produced by California State- East Bay and claims each issue "reflects the creative diversity found in the San Francisco Bay Area literary scene, while bringing together material from an international array of poets, writers, and artists."

Blue Collar Review: A "Journal of Progressive Working Class Literature" from Partisan Press. As you might expect from the name, this is a solid no frills journal.

California Quarterly: The California State Poetry Society's journal, generally a slim volume but perfect bound. I had a poem called "How can I explain this so that you'll understand" in their Vol.34 Is.1 along with among others, the great Hal Sirowitz, and another poem in an earlier issue.

The Cape Rock: The literary journal from Southeast Missouri State University is in its fifteenth year of publication and continues to put out quality, slim issues that are perfect bound. I was lucky enough to have my poem "Stepping Onto a Curb in the Fall" in their Winter 2015 issue.

Conduit: Publishing for over twenty years they're a unique and eclectic journal that continues to publish some of my favorite writers, their newest issue has Charles Harper Webb, Bob Hicok and G.C. Waldrep among others.

Confrontation: Published out of the English department at Long Island University this journal has been around for almost fifty years and is still going strong.

Conjunctions: Published out of Bard College, Conjunctions has the distinction of topping Clifford Garstang's Pushcart Prize Fiction Rankings.

Gettysburg Review: Since their inception in 1988 they've published more than a hundred stories essays and poems that were reprinted in prize anthologies (like Pushcart, Best Americans,
PEN/O.Henry etc.) and they're a staple among lit mags.

Hanging Loose: I was first drawn to Hanging Loose scouring the acknowledgements pages of some of my favorite writers, namely Denise Duhamel. They like witty writing but are relatively eclectic and have separate guidelines for high school student's submissions.

Hudson Review: (accepts online submissions of fiction only) Founded in 1948, The Hudson Review has published and continues to publish the biggest names in literature.

Lake Effect: Lake Effect is another college affiliated journal out of Penn State Erie, The Behrend College that is celebrating its 15th year in 2016.

North Dakota Review: This long-running magazine out of the University of North Dakota was founded in 1910 but has lapsed in the past. It has been going strong for decades now and has a high standard of excellence.

Paris Review: Founded in 1953, The Paris Review is certainly in a class of elite journals that are consistently publishing tremendous work and are also inundated with thousands of submissions a month, perhaps every week, so know that competition is especially keen.

Santa Monica Review: Santa Monica Review was founded in 1988 at Santa Monica College and while they do publish writers from all over the world, they make an effort to publish writers from southern California.

Sewanee Review: Continually published since 1892, yes, that is not a mistake, 1892, not 1992. The journal refrains from glitz and glamour, always a simple cover listing what is in the issue, but don't let that fool you, they put out extremely solid work in each issue.

The Southern Review: (accepts online submissions of fiction only) Founded in 1935 The Southern Review is one of the premiere literary magazines continually publishing quality work from the biggest names and unknowns as well.

Sow's Ear Poetry Review: A small journal that's been running for over 25 years and still going strong. This journal is saddle stapled and 8x10 as opposed to more book-sized journals.

Zoetrope: All Story: A short fiction journal begun by Francis Ford Coppola, Zoetrope publishes the best of the best names in short fiction. One quirk about this journal is that each issue publishes a classic short story that had inspired a film, and they also require a one-year film option with all published stories.

Zyzzyva: The last word of west coast writers, Zyzzyva touts a "distinctly San Francisco point of view" and publishes lots of traditional and quirky work, oftentimes with a good sense of wit.

Ready, Set, Submit!:

As with any submission, do your best to familiarize yourself with the magazine before blindly sending out your work. Sending work to a journal where it clearly doesn't fit wastes everyone's time and your postage.