Submissions Time Again

2 Nov

Supplies at the ready

I just sent out a new batch of submissions the other week. The whole process is time-consuming and not a little tedious, but I’ve been using this new system for a while, which I borrowed from Kelly Russell Agodon, and while it’s not the speediest, it has stopped me from sending the same poem to too many journals. The process is:

Step One:

Identify your publication-worthy poems. These are always still in revision mode, but if I waited until each poem was perfect-perfect, I’d never send anything out. I firmly believe it’s a crap shoot anyways, at least in the beginning stages, until you identify your go-to journals.

Step Two:

Match your poems to journals with open reading periods.


This is the hardest part of the process for me. I’m usually surprised by what journals take which poems, so I’m always just guessing. I try to read up on the journals, see if I can find some sample poems on their websites, and batch together 3-5 poems (the low end of however many the journal says they want) that I think they might like. I’ve found the Creative Writers Opportunities list on Yahoo! Groups (CRWROPPS) indispensable in finding out what journals are currently seeking submissions. The list (moderated by the tireless Allison) also is a great resource for poetry contests, job openings, and other creative-writing related interests.

Step Three:

Send out your submissions. Do not stop at Go. Do not collect $100. Just send them out.

I have all my poems listed on individual 3×5 index cards, one poem per card. As I complete submissions, I update my index cards to show which poem has gone to which journal, along with the date I submitted that poem. I really like this paper process, as it forces me to physically note where each poem has gone.

Step Four:

File your index cards. Poems that have been submitted to a journal go in the “Submitted” section (duh, I know, but you’d be surprised how many times I simultaneously submitted poems unintentionally before this system). Poems that haven’t been submitted go into the “In Progress” section. Keep working this section, poem by poem, until you’re comfortable moving poems into the “To Submit” section. This way, you’re ready with a new batch of poems to send out when you sit down to start this up all over again.

I try to submit a big batch at least every quarter. It’s very time-consuming – it usually takes me about a day and a half to prep five to eight submission packets – but you gotta do it. No one’s ever going to see your work unless you make the effort to share it.

And the joys of getting something accepted, as “Ice Water, Fever” was recently accepted by Cloudbank, is a high like no other.

I also wanted to share this bit of advice from Kelly’s blog: Submit Like a Man. I looked back at all my rejection letters (don’t worry, I’ve only been saving the ones since I moved to NYC) and found several notes to “send us more,” which of course, I never did. Talk about missed opportunities. So I’ve learned my lesson. If you reject me, but you put even one tiny note about having enjoyed my stuff, I’m sending you more. Not in six months or a year. Soon. Very, very soon.

So get out there, my fellow writers-in-arms, and submit. Like a man.

– Jho


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