You guys have been posing some good questions to me. One of the latest wanted to know more about how to choose poems for submission. I have done a few other posts about this but not specifically on that topic. The other posts were more involved that this will be. The first was a How to Guide and the second chronicles Where I Sent My Work, or the early history of places that first published me.
Now, I don’t think writing poetry is about getting published but I do enjoy the process of getting my work out there. I like to organize things so the process of revising and submitting work for publication keeps me going. You certainly don’t have to seek publication but this is just something I enjoy.
With that out of the way, so you are thinking of trying to get your poems published.
- Do you read literary magazines – print and/or online? If you answered No to this then you should stop reading this and instead start reading some magazines. Places like New Pages provide links to online and print journals. Why would you send work out if you were not a reader?
- OK. So you came back after reading some magazines or you have magazines you already read. Good. Which ones do you like the most? Chances are if you admire the work there, it is because you connected with it on some level. This is a potential market for you to send your work to.
- When I was just starting out Poet’s Market was essential. I specifically mention Poet’s Market because it labels publications in a variety of ways but most notably by the openness of the market to beginners. You can make a list of all the markets you are interested in and say once a week or month go through and send some work. See more on what to send below. I’ll use an example from my early publication history: The Storyteller. They really like to publish writers starting out. Granted when I go back and read the poem I have in there, I cringe just a little bit but we all have to start somewhere and our idea of what is “good” changes over time. As for online, I found The Houston Literary Review as a nice venue where editors are more receptive to offering editorial suggestion if your piece is close to being done.
- Now, the big question. How do you decide what to send? There really isn’t a guide that can tell you specifically how to do that because it is such a subjective process. You should send your work that you feel is done ( Is Your Poem Done?). When I started sending work out again in 2006, I started with haiku. It seemed easier to work with shorter material and a more limited market. If a journal only publishes a specific type of poetry then you are limited but otherwise just send the work you like best and follow their guidelines. I usually send either 3 or 5 poems depending on the publication.
- And finally, more specifically on how I pick what I sent, is that I keep a document called New/Idea where I work on new poems. When I feel they are ready, I make the title bold. I then send them out the next week. When poems are rejected, I add them to the New/Idea document and read them again to see if they need to be revised before sending out or if I no longer “feel” them and put them in a “retired” document where I can revisit them in the future if I want.
There can be, of course, a lot more to this but I’d love to toss it now over to discussion. How do you choose where to send your poems? How do you choose which poems to send? I hope this helps the writer who asked for further discussion on this. If not, please let me know if there are other questions I need to address. Thanks everyone! Hope your weekend is going well.