I can’t really recap how things went with submitting my poetry last year because not all of the submissions have come back with a yes or no yet. I do know from looking over my list that I didn’t submit as much last year as I had in years past. Was part of that due to lack of time or less writing? Both? I do know I had comments come back from quite a few places I submitted to, and some of what I’d consider “big” publishers. Although how to equate what is a “big” publisher versus a small one is somewhat subjective.
One way that Clifford Garstang went about quantifying the issue was to put together a yearly Pushcart list. Stop by his website for more details on his methodology. I have updated where I’m submitting in 2013 based on some of those rankings. I like to mix in print versus online and top tier versus lower tier each year. This isn’t the only way to make a decision about what is a good magazine versus a not so good one. I hate to even use the phrase good because what I enjoy in a lit mag might be very different from the next person.
For example, I finished an issue of Gargoyle recently and I was blown away by the essays and fiction in the magazine, but less so by the poetry. Should I continue submitting there if my poetry may not be a good fit just because of the caliber of the other work in the journal?
I also finished an issue of Kansas City Voices that had a really great variety of artwork, prose, and poetry. I wonder about submitting there? I’m not a Kansas City Voice, but they don’t require that.
How to find where you fit in? I try to read as many journals as I can, and I subscribe to several each year. Although I often have a hard time remembering which ones I have subscribed, too! I have been thinking a lot about this idea of where you fit after watching the documentary Brooklyn Boheme. Wonder what it is like to find that kind of community of like-minded artists to bounce ideas off of? Would I even be able to do that with my tendency towards introversion and constant fear that I’m just not smart enough or good enough to contribute to the conversation?
Then again, I heard Neil Gaiman say recently that that fear of not being good enough doesn’t go away. It reappears with each new project.
And, I say that is a good thing. I think if you think you are too good you are in danger of not trying new things.
One of the hardest things for me is deciding whether or not to keep submitting to places that I’ve tried numerous times with no success, and whether to continue submitting to places that have published my work before but are “smaller” journals.
The “career” side of the poetry world is a whole other conversation, but it is on my mind a lot lately. Perhaps I’ll revisit that again.
How do you decide where to send your work?