Some years ago I had my first piece of fiction published in Snake Nation Review, a literary journal published by a Georgia arts organization with a readership of about 6,000. I’ve since had pieces published in Vermont Literary Review, Clockhouse Review and others with readerships that size or less. Nobody I know has ever heard of any of these. When I go to book expos at writing conferences, I don’t see any representatives from the journals I’ve been published in. The publications are too small and funding too low for the organizations to fly someone to a conference. Lately I’ve had second thoughts about even mentioning them in my author bio when I submit work.
However, when I attended the Creative Nonfiction Writers’ Conference in Pittsburgh last weekend, I learned that there’s power in getting published in literary journals.
Lee Gutkind, known as the “Godfather behind creative nonfiction,” moderated a panel about getting published. He said that editors and agents actually read literary journals. He said Creative Nonfiction literary journal will publish a piece and then sometimes an agent will contact the journal to find out how to contact the writer, wondering if the writer is interesting in writing a book. I was surprised. I had no idea that editors and agents looked at literary journals. I thought the only people who looked at or read literary journals were the writers who got published in them.
It was also mentioned that for writers aspiring to get an academic position, getting published in literary journals can be helpful.