First off, you get to read a great deal of high-quality writing.
Secondly, in answer to the always-asked question by students in my Get Published classes, How do I know which magazines to submit to:
If you believe the marketing, which I do, Best American publishes “The Best.” The editors search name publications and highly-regarded literary magazines. The bios of included writers usually show long lists of publications for which the odds of getting into are longer.
However, each volume in the series includes pages and pages of also-notables in the genre.
Holy gold mine, Batman. Mine those lists for anything new:
- Writers new to the series (Edwidge Danticat, Adam Gopnik, et. al.; not so helpful to your purpose);
- Writers new to also notables,
- Publications new to the series; and
- Publications new to also’s.
For Writers New To:
- Look into the magazine that published the piece that got into Best American.
- Read the entire issue. As you are reading, be aware of any of your pieces that come to mind. Send it.
- Read the new writer’s bio, looking for the names of smaller magazines in which the new authors also published.
For Magazines New To:
Learning from Amy Bloom’s story: the smaller you go, the more likely your acceptance.
Unless your piece appears in a name magazine, where you publish is far less important than it used to be. You can promote any link to your friends, family, and readers. You can drop any link into letters to agents and editors.
As long as the writing is top-notch. If the writing is not the absolute best you can do, the rest is commentary.