High school students and self-publishing: Oh, the places your writing can go

Kyra Bergsund, Staff Writer

If you yearn for more than just the attention of a teacher’s eyes and the subsequent rubric slapped on top of a labored-over composition, the due date in your American Romanticism or Recent America class need not be the end of the production line.

Outside the walls of Urban’s intellectuals and loquacious printers can be found opportunities to give your writing some elbowroom and attention.  Teen-oriented publications and literary magazines, such as Hanging Loose Press and Zyzzyva offer a home for creative writing, from poetry to short fiction, and artwork of all kinds, including photography.  But take note: Each publication has different themes and guidelines for submitting content.

Annakai Geshlider (’13), who has been submitting work since her middle school years, said, “I had to submit (work to) a few places before I got published.” Regarding the feedback she receives, she said, “sometimes I got editing help from the magazines, but they didn’t publish, and this was still helpful.”

But even when rejections come, there’s no harm in trying.  No harm in composing an email or whipping out an envelope and bringing to light late-night, delirious journal entries or more formal, official compositions. For writing is not just a duty — it is a privilege, a form of expression. And even if your work isn’t published, submitting work and receiving it back, sometimes with edits, will be helpful in your development as a writer in general.

Normally, these publications do not request money for submitting content nor do they pay when something is published.  Getting into higher-level publications may differ.

Below is a list and short description of some publications and literary magazines.  Many more can be found in bookstores around San Francisco and online. Prior to submitting, be sure to look at the publication’s specific guidelines, for they vary.

Teen Ink: As is evident from the name, this is a teen (ages 13-19) publication.  Most submitted work gets published online; there are also print issues, which cannot publish everything.  All work is considered. Click here for submission guidelines. 

The Claremont Review: A magazine that publishes poetry, short stories and short plays by aspiring young writers ages 13-19. Under their submission guidelines, they request “works that reveal something of the human condition.” Click here for submission guidelines.

Zyzzyva: A long-running, thought-provoking West Coast journal that publishes unheard writers and artists. The journal has a “First time in print” section, and attracts a wide spectrum, from experienced wordsmiths to those just getting their voice out. Their office is in Suite 401 at 466 Geary St. Click here for submission guidelines.

Caveat Lector: A quarterly online literature magazine.  They accept submissions between February 1 and June 30 annually.  They accept a wide range of material from poems and extracts from longer fictional material to short musical scores. Click here for submission guidelines.

Urban Legends: The name may sound familiar, because it is.  This is a new column in a well-known magazine, “Urban Farm.” They are accepting stories (1,000 words or less) about urban-farming or green living to be published in the magazine.  Any story submission will receive edits from UF editors.  Click here for the Urban Farm website.