By Viva Padilla
When it comes to submitting work to literary magazines for publication consideration, there are two strategies:
1. Submit everywhere and submit often.
2. Network with publishers and get solicited.
Creating connections to publishers is a great way for those of us mujeres who prefer to work smarter and not harder in order to get a sure shot at getting published. Women Who Submit recognizes this. Through their organization, with various chapters in the US, Canada, and Mexico, they bring together women/femmes/non-binary folks of color to both submit and network. Earlier this year, WWS released their first anthology ACCOLADES, pre-pandemic, as a celebration of the waves women writers of color have made in the cis white men/women dominated literary landscape.
Viva Padilla hit up the ACCOLADES editors Tisha Reichle-Aguilera and Rachael Warecki to get an inside look at the org.
Viva Padilla: Community not competition seems to be the driving force behind Women Who Submit. How important is community, specifically among women/femmes/non-binary folks, when it comes to all things literary?
Editors: It is everything! The inspiration for this organization was the VIDA Count in 2011, a survey of the lack of gender parity in top tier literary magazines. Our goal is to empower women and non-binary writers to send their work out strategically. We offer in-person (when we can) and online resources for finding the best opportunities for each writer’s work. We also support writers who want to apply to residencies and fellowships. This was our first time as managing editors and what a steep learning curve. We made smart choices early by consulting with Sarah Rafael García of LibroMobile who has curated the anthology pariahs: writing from outside the margins and partnering with Nikia Chaney of Jamii Publishing.
ACCOLADES was truly a collaborative effort. Rachael was completely responsible for all the design work, including the amazing cover; Tisha focused on communication with contributors. Women Who Submit’s three co-founders documented their discussion about our origins and growth in the foreword and other members of the leadership team served as poetry and nonfiction editors. Our goal was to feature pieces where women and non-binary characters are portrayed prominently in a positive manner and pieces that include multiple identities or marginalized perspectives. While we couldn’t include all the wonderful work that was submitted, we tried to curate a variety of innovative work that was representative of our community of writers.
Viva: In your heart/mind, what is the importance of ACCOLADES?
Editors: The anthology is a celebration of submission, acceptances, and publications by the members of our organization. It is another way to clap and cheer for writers and their previously published work. To echo our director and co-founder, Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, “The work in this anthology is necessary, questioning, and honest.” This collection reflects the diverse voices of our literary community.
Viva: Which poems have touched you and why?
Editors: The poetry editors selected some exceptional work for the anthology. We were moved by the way LiYun Alvardo’s “Hechizo Para Congelar” plays with language and form in a powerful way. Cybele Garcia Kohel’s poem “Chamomile Hair” and Anita Gill’s essay “Hair” both offer compelling perspectives on mother-daughter relationships. As the fiction editors, we also looked for stories that offered something we had not seen before and we were captivated by Lituo Huang’s “Passenger.”
Viva: What kind of support does WWS offer mujeres/femmes/non-binary folks?
Editors:At our monthly submission parties, we offer Submission Fee grants for writers who apply. Twice a year we award the Kit Reed Travel Fund for Women and Non-binary Writers of Color. Submissions for the second 2020 award will open July 1. Every fall, we have an annual Submission Blitz to support writers who want to send their work to top tier journals. Last month, thanks to donations from allies, we also offered relief grants for writers affected by COVID-19.
Viva: Are there any socially distant events where we can check out the contributors?
Editors: The contributors to our anthology were featured daily reading their poems, stories, and essays on Instagram @WomenWhoSubmit. There is a monthly WWS open mic led by one of our community members. We also have an archive of previous guest speakers from our monthly submission parties available on our Facebook page. There, writers can also find Calls for Submission.
Viva: Do you have any advice for young woman/femme/non-binary writers and poets who want to start getting published?
Editors: WRITE! The most important advice is to put the words on the page. REVISE! Share work with other writers you trust to get feedback. READ! See what is being published by journals you like and that will guide you to find the right places for submitting your work for publication. Also read the weekly WWS blog where you will find advice about writing, submitting, and interviews with editors.