This answer got long. Skip to the last paragraph if you want the good stuff.
I’m assuming you’re talking about short fiction and literary journals.
Personally, there was a point when I was starting out when I realized I didn’t read any of the literary journals I was supposed to submit stories to and nobody I knew read them, either. What I did read, and what other people read, was the internet. So I decided posting my work online in my own space was more important to me.
But that was me. Basically, you have to decide what world you want to be in. If you want to be in the literary world, or the art world, or whatever world, you have to play by that world’s rules. If you want to build your own world, then you can make up your own rules, and do your own thing, and build your own audience.
But IF you decide to go your own way, DO NOT automatically expect that world you turned your back on to come around to you later. In other words, if you jump the gatekeepers, don’t expect them to kiss your ass after you’ve showed everybody you can jump them. (For example, nobody in the lit’ry world really gives that much of a shit about my work, mostly because I didn’t give much of a shit about the lit world when I was coming up.)
Luckily, there is, however, a happy medium: share your process, not your products. Share scraps, drafts, research, reading, etc. (Think of it as sharing the DVD extras while you’re making the movie.) Talk about books you love. Talk about writing. Build a little place for yourself where you’re sharing what you do. Then save the finished pieces for submitting to publishers.
Trying to get into shape