Oct 14, 2022 • 52M

How to Work with Small Presses and Literary Magazines—Episode 335 with Terena Bell

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Entertaining, actionable advice on craft, productivity and creativity for writers and journalists in all genres, with hosts Jessica Lahey, KJ Dell'Antonia and Sarina Bowen.

Listeners, you KNOW we got granular with this one because there are just plain so many links!

Terena Elizabeth Bell has been writing all her life. Her first short story was published in a literary magazine when she was in college—almost thirty years ago, and she’s published many since and won multiple awards. She’s also written for more than 100 publications, including The Atlantic, The Guardian, Boston Globe, Smithsonian, Playboy, MysteryTribune, and Santa Monica Review. Platform-o-rama, right?

But she could NOT find a publisher for her debut novel or debut short story collection. As she puts it: It wasn't for want of trying. Her novel was turned down by 64 agents.

That novel, RECURSION, and Terena’s short story collection, Tell Me What You See were both purchased within two weeks once Terena decided to turn to the small presses associated with the lit mags she’d been a part of for so long.

We talk about the glories AND problems with small presses, how to be sure you’re talking to a small press and not the kind of hybrid publisher we often warn you about (there are legit hybrids, but be careful out there, many take advantage of writers who don’t understand what they offer), finding the right small presses and literary magazines and what it’s like to be a more literary and experimental writer. It’s a great episode with a lot of information we haven’t covered before.

BONUS: Read Previous guest Joni B. Cole’s When Is It Smart to Submit Your Work to a University Press? (You’d Be Surprised!)

Big Literary journals Duotrope, The Submission Grinder

Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference

SMOL Fair Readings

NYT article on how Billie Eilish’s platform didn’t sell her book

CamCat Books

Justine Bateman’s book, Fame: The Hijacking of Reality, which her platform also didn’t sell.

The 10 National Book Award Finalists for 2022 include 4 books of short stories.

Beacon Press: an American left-wing non-profit book publisher.

Soho Press: a New York City-based publisher founded by Juris Jurjevics and Laura Hruska in 1986 and currently headed by Bronwen Hruska. It specializes in literary fiction and international crime series.

Best Short Stories of 2022

Malarkey Books

Authors Guild Model Contract

Brooklyn Book Festival

FSG—Farrar Straus Giroux does/does not take unagented submissions


The controversy surrounding Roxane Gay’s PANK


Find Terena at www.terenabell.com or on Twitter @TerenaBell


Terena: Edith Wharton’s A Glimpse of the Moon, A Son at the Front , and The Custom of the Country

Night Rider, All the Kings Men, both by Robert Penn Warren

KJ: The Letters of Shirley Jackson, as well as the four book omnibus that has Sundial in it (and Alexis Hall’s Paris Daillencourt is About to Crumble and Glitterland)