Students in my Literary Arts program are required to submit their creative projects to the outside world: writing contests, literary magazines, or local, regional, and national publications. I believe students should experience submitting their academic and creative work for publication for the numerous tangential lessons, including close reading for submission guidelines and preparing their manuscripts with formatting dependent on those guidelines. Researching a possible venue for an article or essay, studying submission guidelines, and actually submitting their work to a contest or a publication is great training for budding writers.
Each year I introduce them to websites such as New Pages, Writers Digest and Poets and Writers, which has a searchable index for numerous possible venues as well as a database of articles on both fiction, poetry, and non-fiction craft issues. Students have also submitted their work to contests like Scholastic Art and Writing and the National Council of Teachers of English’ Norman Mailer contest, which awards, as part of their prize package, the chance to be published. There are also local contests (local for me is Kentucky) such as the Kentucky Poetry Society contests which publishes the winners in their literary magazine. Students also submit to our school literary magazine or school newspaper, and really industrious students can even self-publish their work and distribute it.
Another indirect benefit of seeking publishing outlets is that students begin to read online literary magazines searching for potential submission spots. I tell them not to just send their writing like a plague of locust out upon the land, but to make a smart, targeted, well-research submission. One of the first things I ask students when they are considering submitting to a venue is: Have you read their publications to know what kinds of work they publish? Some online venues have hyperlinked back copies or send free sample copies.
Another lesson of submission for publication is the soft skill of fortitude. The goal of submitting a piece of student writing to the real world is not necessarily to get published, but merely to understand the process of submission. However, when one does get a response, either publication (yeah!) or rejection (seriously?), there is value in getting that first rejection slip. Students join the ranks of great writers, like Rowling, Gaiman, or Melville, who were rejected numerous times.
Here are a few of the publishing outlets I suggest for teen writers:
- Amazing Kids Network Magazine is an online publication that features work by both middle grade and teen writers. They also host interviews with mentor writers and have monthly writing contests.
- The Claremont Review publishes young writers and artists, aged 13-19, from anywhere in the English-speaking world. Twice yearly, they accept fiction, poetry, drama, graphic art and photography.
- Creative Kids Magazine publishes poetry, fiction, personal narratives, humor along with fantasy, historical and science fiction. They publish four print issues and maintain a website of work written by teen writers.
- Hanging Loose Magazine. A division of Hanging Loose Press, the subscription magazine supports and publishes teen writers in their monthly magazine. They accept poetry and prose from high school students and will offer feedback and editorial advice if requested. If work is accepted, writers are paid a small stipend and two copies of the magazine wherein their work appears
- Rookie Magazine This is a publication especially for teen girls, and I love the funky graphics of this site, which posts writing and art from their readers. Rookie also hosts over twenty categories of posts from “eye candy” to “you asked it” sections with writing on music, style, clothes, and fashion.
- Stone Soup has been around for more than 40 years and is now available in both print and web versions. The readers and writers of this magazine are 14 years or younger, so only freshmen writers might want to pursue a publishing spot with this publication.
- Teen Ink. Since 1989, teen writers have found a publishing opportunities at Teen Ink, who considers submissions for their online and print magazine, as well. Teen Ink also provides feedback on novels as well.
- Teen Lit distributes free books to teens in exchange for a review that is edited and then published on their site. They also publish short stories, poetry, and essays on their site, and host a discussion board, a writing community, and a treasure trove of writing links for craft and inspiration.
- VOYA or Voice of Youth Advocates Magazine is a journal that promotes YA literature and reading. The magazine invites teen writers to contribute to the magazine through poetry and art contests, as a book reviewer, or by submitting a manuscript for the Notes from the Teenage Underground column.
- YARN or Young Adult Review Network is an online literary journal the publishes fiction, poetry and essays for Young Adult readers, written by established authors and teen writers
Online Writing Communities
Another way students can reveal their work to the world is to join an online writing community. In these communities, participants submit their pieces for discussion and ranking by other members. If students are old enough and responsible enough to have a Facebook page, they also may enjoy joining online writing communities. Several of my students have used one or more of the following to publish their work:
- BookCountry is an online writing community with a crisp look where students can read and review others’ works as well as learn about the craft of writing and pick up a few publishing pointers.
- Figment has a lot of bells and whistles including a blog called “The Daily Fig,” which features posts about craft, inspiration, plotting, manuscript formatting, and much more. There are also multiple forums and a feature called “Figment Chat” where members can chat with published authors and writers.
- Go Teen Writers is a supportive community with a seriously well-stocked archive of craft articles about plot, characters, point of view, and much more. Maintained by YA authors Stephanie Morrill, Jill Williamson, and Shannon Dittemore, the site is well-designed and generous with resources for teen writers.
- Scribophile is less a social media site than it is an online workshop site where community members share their work to get and give feedback as well as trade information about writing.
- Wattpad is a streamlined social media site for writers and readers. If student create a profile, they can post chapters of their novels and read the work of other writers for free from more than 20 different genres.
- Writer’s Café is a similar social media site that hosts a blog and has a neat publishing tab with a searchable database of literary magazines and writing contests.
- Write the World is my new favorite teen writing community. A nicely-designed, global, non-profit organization that works with teachers and student writes all over the world, they offer writing groups for peer review as well as competitions, writing prompts, and expert feedback. This site also provides resources, writing prompts, and lessons for teachers of creative writing.