Over at The Millions, Josh Rolnick presents a great overview of helpful hints for submitting short stories to journals and magazines. Ten Things I’ve Learned Over 12 Years of Sending Out Stories provides classic, evergreen things that we should all remember.
Tip #3 the list is to shoot for the stars at the beginning of your submission process. “Make a list of the top tier journals you’d love to have your story published in, then start at the top and move down,” Rolnick writes.
I’ve always employed this exact strategy. But in addition to Rolnick’s concepts, there’s another reason to send your work to the most prestigious outlets first. In my experience, I’ve always found that those well-staffed, well-financed places (relatively speaking, they’re all cash strapped, I know) responded more quickly than the isolated, forlorn literary journal at some forgotten academic outpost. For years, the huge circulation glossies like Playboy or The New Yorker had a response time of one month. Compare that with the six months, or even a year!, that you regularly encounter at smaller publications. It might be a long shot, but give it a try. You’ll get an answer quickly and can then start moving down the list.