Do you want to be published — or more widely published? Are you confused or overwhelmed about when, how or where to send your poems for publication? When you step up to the mic, do you feel like you are connecting well with your audience?
I’ve probably attended thousands of poetry readings over the years and have always noticed that some poets — even well known poets — do not do their poems justice when they read them. After bleeding all over a page to create a successful poem, I believe that poem deserves a great presentation from the poet.
That’s why I designed a new class for the Loft called “To Publish an Present.” In this class we will use the workshop format to fine-tune poems in structured critique setting. I’ll deliver an extensive list of publishing resources. We’ll also offer some coaching and have guest presenters share their insights with us. I’m excited to lead this class because I think many people will appreciate the results. I’m hoping the Loft will offer the class next summer.
In the meantime, I’ll offer the following:
Check out these listings for publications that might like your work:
newpages.com, pw.org/literary-magazines, everywritersresource.com/topliterarymagazines, duotrope.com, andromeda.rutgers.edu (the rutgers site lists those that accept electronic submissions, which we love because it’s so fast and easy)
Some quick tips:
- If you have time, take at least a quick read through the current issue of the lit mag to see if your work might fit, keeping in mind that editors often change.
- Read the guidelines. The fastest way to get rejected is to not abide by the rules. If they want a bio, send a bio. If they don’t mention it, don’t.
- Make sure your work is spell checked, neat and clean. If you don’t respect your work, editors won’t either.
- One poem per page (unless it’s a multiple page poem – then put your last name and “p.2” on the second page. Editors’ desks can be piled with papers. You don’t want any of yours to be lost.
- Name, address, city/state/zip, phone and email on upper right side of your poem. I place it there so that my title and poem stands out from my personal information. I want editors to see my poem first.
- Nothing fancy. A clean type face only. No graphics, no photos, no explanations. Clean and professional.
- Multiple submissions are usually fine. Worst (best?) case scenario: Two pubs want your poem. That has never, ever happened to me, but if it does, you choose the best one and write the other a nice note saying that you hadn’t heard from them and placed your poem elsewhere. But check first to see if they take previously published work. Then you’re good on both counts.
- If submitting by snail mail, always include a self-addressed stamped envelope. (SASE)
- Don’t overthink. I just shoot out my best work. 5 poems to 5 different mags at a time. Unless the issue has a specific theme, it’s all a crap shoot anyway. Set aside a few hours a month to do this. If you do this, you will be rewarded. Guaranteed.
-Consider subscribing to Poets & Writers magazine. There is a section of classifieds at the back of the magazine that lists publications that are actively looking for work.
-Contests: We can drop a bundle entering contests. They are extremely competitive and often, I think, publications have their “favorites” to choose from already. I wouldn’t suggest it unless you know you have a drop-dead poem or collection that you have worked a long time (preferably with an editor you trust.)
-Self-Publishing is a completely honorable way to get your work in front of some readers. Do it well, though. Hire an editor, a book designer who knows his or her stuff and will handle the printing properly. You can have a chapbook or book to be proud of the rest of your life.
-It’s good to have a healthy list of publications under your belt before going the book route. Gives you credibility.