A few weeks ago, I took the Hit Submit class from the excellent literary magazine One Story. Hit Submit covered submitting writing to residencies, agents, and literary magazines. I wanted to share my experience for other potential students. I found my first online writing class worth it for the lively discussion board full of as many insights as the class materials. Read on to see what helped me improve my approach to submitting my writing.
Lena Valencia, the managing editor of One Story and an experienced submitter, taught the Hit Submit class. Her daily material and forum responses exhibited a professional, encouraging tone.
Hit Submit was a self-paced class. Lena posted reading materials online over the course of three days. Students logged-in, read the material at their own pace, and posted questions on the discussion boards.
- Day 1: Literary Magazines
- Day 2: Residencies, Retreats, Conferences
- Day 3: Literary Agents
I looked forward to new material to read early every morning. I’ve submitted to 100 journals, queried 30 agents, and attended one residency, but I still found new nuggets in all three days. I imagine a first-time submitter would get an even bigger leg up, especially from downloadable resources like a submissions tracking spreadsheet, sample cover letters, and examples of different rejection tiers. The literary magazines material was the most comprehensive resource I’ve seen after Allison K. Williams’s excellent book, Get Published In Literary Magazines: The Indispensable Guide to Preparing, Submitting and Writing Better.
I took notes and came up with questions to post and experiences to share. I found myself dipping into the forums throughout the day, curious about every new post. Many students had taken previous One Story classes and had a broad range of experience, from no submissions to multiple publications in The New Yorker. Several questions came from international voices, though most participants were in the U.S. At least two resources were student-driven: we contributed to growing lists of literary magazines and residencies worth submitting to.
The posted questions built on that day’s materials. And though Lena quickly responded to dozens of questions, it was encouraging to see students chime in with their experiences. I felt comfortable venturing answers that started discussions and asking a handful of questions.
The biggest downside was the web site used to run the Hit Submit class, PowerSchool Learning. My main frustration was its inability to link to or bookmark specific discussions. Following discussions became a challenge during active periods with dozens of new posts. Despite my frequent engagement, the site logged me out multiple times a day. The lack of discussion links made notification emails less useful and actionable. Responding to a new message involved clicking back to the site, having to log in yet again, and then searching for the relevant discussion. Every. Time.
The site was not at all optimized for mobile devices. Browsing on my phone involved a lot of zooming in an out to read tiny text.
To Lena Valencia’s and One Story’s credit, they had a discussion area for issues like these and the staff was responsive there as well. These issues weren’t a deal breaker but frustrations that would have been increasingly harder to tolerate for longer classes.
Class engagement on the third day, querying literary agents, showed another small downside. Though Lena’s material was still engaging, the deadline to post new questions to the discussion boards was the end of that same day. It would have been nice to have a little more time to reflect on the content and continue the discussion with Lena. But I imagine if we had four days for questions, I’d be here asking for five!
Is it worth it?
P.S. One Story is currently running a holiday promotion. The promo code GIVE1STORY gives you a year-long subscription to One Story (12 issues) and One Teen Story (4 issues) for $15 instead of the typical $21.