I have a confession to make. I love the search for submission opportunities: perusing the calls online and in the back of writing magazines to find the right venues for my essays and work by writer friends. Each opportunity hastily scribbled in the margins or in my datebook represents a possibility—of publication, of an editor or reader becoming familiar with my work, even of rejection that opens the door to acceptance somewhere else.
One particular thing for which I look, thanks to the advice of poet Denise Calvetti Michaels, is ways to republish or repurpose my essays. Why? Republication naturally occurs for more established writers as their work is reprinted in anthologies, writing guides, and textbooks. However, submitting for republication is great strategy for writers early in their career with a small body of finished work because it enables you to leverage that work for maximum outcome. Not only will you gain a publication credit and exposure to new readers, you may also garner payment, an award, or a unique benefit like a reading, a meeting with an editor, or participation in a juried workshop.
By submitting previously published work to journals, anthologies, and contests, I have achieved the following:
- Online reprint of my essay "Bounty and Burden" in Redux, including the chance to explore and share my writing process in "The Story Behind the Essay"
- Inclusion of "Bounty and Burden" in an exhibition of literary and visuals artists in Washington State
- Honorable Mention for "A Grief Unraveled" in the 38th New Millenium Nonfiction Award competition
You may find that previously published work has a better chance of acceptance, possibly because it has already been worked over by an editor. My acceptance rate for previously published work is above 40%, much higher than my standard rate of 5%. This is particularly reassuring when you are paying a submission fee.
Consider both literary journals and anthologies for republication opportunities. They will state, even in a brief call for submissions, that they will consider previously published work, and this will also appear in their full submission guidelines. As with any submission, you will want to familiarize yourself with the publication before submitting to make sure your work aligns with their aesthetic and that you will be pleased to be among the contributors.
Most literary journals do not accept previously published work, but it is worth looking into those that do and why. Some journals have made it part of their mission to give quality work a fresh audience. This is particularly true with the advent of legitimate online publishing as readers of online and paper journals can be different audiences.
The online journal Redux publishes work—poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction—that has only appeared in print. Editor Leslie Pietrzyk began the journal in 2011 to save poems and prose from the "dungeon of page 64 in a lovely—but now forgotten—issue of a literary journal." Each writer published on Redux gets the opportunity to explore the piece anew in a brief "Story Behind the Work" section, of which Pietryzyk is particularly proud because several writers have told her that writing it "made them reconsider their work in interesting ways." Additionally, she is grateful that Redux allows her to "'meet' many writers I wouldn't have known otherwise, from their work and then from subsequent social media," reinforcing how republication also leads to genuine connection between writers separated by geography or genre.
Another journal that solicits previously published work is New Millenium Writings, a print journal in publication since 1996. As part of its mission to champion new and emerging writers, New Millenium Writings will consider work that has been published online or in a journal with a circulation of less than 5,000. Associate Publisher Brent Carr shares the rationale behind these guidelines
We understand that many writers, particularly those trying to get established, may accept publication online or in a small journal for little to no monetary compensation, as a means of getting their works and name out into the writing community. Although this exposure is valuable, and often necessary, we believe this shouldn't preclude them from receiving awards and recognition from a more established publication.
It is also important to recognize that, ultimately, editors are in the publishing business because they love reading, sharing, and publicizing great work even if, in this case, another editor discovered it first.
I have included a list of respected journals who champion or consider previously published work:
- Hippocampus Magazine - "prefers previously unpublished work, but will entertain submissions that have appeared elsewhere"
- New Millenium Writings
- "Previously published material is welcome if online only or had a circulation of under 5,000"
- Upcoming deadline is June 17th
- Work must have appeared in a print journal - see Submissions Guidelines for details
- Submissions are currently closed but may open later this year. I recommend that you subscribe to the journal (free) for notification of the open period.
- Editors Reprint Award 2015 - "two lucky pieces will get a second breath of life normally reserved for ultra-exclusive anthologies"
- Deadline is tomorrow, April 30th
- The Sun - "We’re willing to read previously published works, though for reprints we pay only half our usual fee."
Anthologies and Other Opportunities
Many anthologies do consider previously published work. You will want to research the editors and the press (if one has already agreed to publish) to make sure it is the right fit for your work and your career, but anthologies are another great place to publish work and start building an audience. Editors often develop a comprehensive marketing campaign, so you may gain more exposure.
I am also always intrigued by contests that do not offer publication, instead providing financial award and/or a fellowship, a teaching opportunity, or a public reading. These are practical building blocks to a career, and, if your work is selected for one of these honors, you know that you have an award-winning essay to submit to literary journals for publication.
Additional Benefit and Etiquette
Another benefit of pursuing republication opportunities is that it keeps you in the submission game even if you have no new work to submit. As a personal practice, I like to have at least one thing under consideration at all times. I have the spent the last year working on new essays that I hope to finish soon; however, I still have two pieces under consideration, one for an anthology and another for a reprint award.
When you announce on your website or through social media that your work has been reprinted, remember to highlight the journal which originally published the piece. On your website, link to the journal. Also, notify the original journal as the editors may choose to share the good news on their blog.
When pursued judiciously, republication offers benefits to both literary journals and to writers. Please let me know about other republication opportunities as well any success you have with the above journals.