Submitting Poetry to Magazines and Journals.
Writing poetry is fun but finding a way to get your work read can be a real challenge. Hopefully the tips below will make submitting poetry a little easier.
- Is your work ready?
Submitting poetry is hard enough without then realising you’ve submitted something below standard. I have learned from experience never to submit a piece until it is absolutely ready. This (for me) sometimes takes months but it’s worth the wait. There’s nothing worse than seeing a mistake in something you’ve sent. Or realising that it’s not as good as it could be. And editors don’t like being asked to make alterations. If you’re not certain your work is ready, consider joining a writer’s group – mine has been wonderful in helping me fine-tune my work.
- Make a list of publications
List the publications that accept poetry from emerging writers. Alternatively, list publications that publish poets whose work you like and admire. Checking out the biographies of published poets will give you a great place to start. Make a note of a publication’s circulation, venerability, pay, and submission periods. Consider submitting poetry to smaller publications before tackling the giants like Virginia Quarterly who receive over 10,000 unsolicited works each year.
- Have you read the journal or magazine?
Before submitting poetry always read the journal or magazine. Every publication has a specific market in mind and there’s no point in sending a poem on the beauty of coal mining to an environmental literary magazine like The Hopper. It will also help you to understand what editors are looking for. And it’s easy. Many publications have free content online or archived past issues. Consider subscribing for a year. Maybe share the cost with a couple of other writers and discuss the work that was chosen. Why was it chosen and how does it compare to what you are writing? Will your piece fit their market? Try to work out what the editors are looking for and remember that if you enjoy their work they may well enjoy yours.
- Check submission guidelines.
Before submitting poetry, check formatting and submission guidelines – every publication will have its own particular set of rules. Some request biographies and/or cover letters, others don’t, some want single spacing some double … If they request a cover letter, make sure you mention that you have read their publication and give details – especially if you enjoyed something they published. If they want a biography, include relevant professional writing experience but keep it brief (3 – 5 pieces only). Don’t be emotional or clever, just give the facts in a professional way. Editors want evidence of your writing experience. And don’t forget to address the cover letter/email to the poetry editor if you know their name (this is usually on their website).
- Send multiple publications.
Submitting poetry to more than one publication at a time is possible but always check first – If a publication doesn’t accept simultaneous submissions, they will tell you in their submission guidelines. And always notify a publication if your work is accepted elsewhere.
- Keep a Record.
Keep track of all your submissions. I once had to withdraw a short story after it was accepted elsewhere and found that the publication then needed to know the exact submission date.
- Read feedback.
Everyone has work rejected so try to see rejection emails as feedback. If the rejection email includes encouraging comments don’t forget to mention them in your next submission ‘Thank you for your encouraging comment/note/feedback about my poem ‘X’. As you suggested, I am submitting to you again. Please find …’ And remember that it is sometimes necessary to submit to dozens of publishers before getting a piece accepted.
- Acknowledge acceptance.
If your work is accepted, immediately say thank you and send the editor anything that they have requested. Make sure your contact details are up-to-date and don’t forget to withdraw your accepted piece from publications where it is still under consideration. Keep copies of all contracts and the names of people involved.
- Read the publication.
Don’t forget to read the publication when your work is published. Perhaps, send the editor an email to say what you enjoyed about the magazine/journal and consider purchasing copies to give away to colleagues and friends/family. Add a link to your website to help promote the magazine and list it in your author biography.