Submitting poems to journals: the mathematics of yay or nay

Now that my book publication date is six months away, I want to see more of the poems in print before the book comes out.  So I am searching my Poet’s Market book for the right places.

Submitting poems to journals can be an agonizingly slow process. I have waited nine months for responses from two journals (one said yes, the other said no). When I send out poems, I record the date mailed, and I record the date I receive a response. My average response time is around four months; I’m not sure if that’s average for others, or what I could do to speed it up. Conversely though, I once received a rejection in six hours, but this journal’s rejection rate is 99.9% so I didn’t feel too badly.

So now I have a huge stack of printed-out poems on my kitchen table. I organized them alphabetically so I can find them more easily. But – which poems should be sent to which places?  Whenever you receive a rejection you always wonder: was it the poems I sent? Would they have accepted this poem instead? Or this one?

There are four factors in play:

the poem (Is it actually a good poem?);

the editors (Are they experienced? Do they really hate nature poems? Etc.);

the journal (Do they tend to publish poems anything like this poem?); and

the timing (Is your poem about snow when they are editing for the summer issue? Are there other poems about your subject already in the issue?).

For a poem to be accepted, all these factors must align.

That is why I don’t agonize about rejections; when you mind-read you can’t expect to always be right. And you’re grateful when you are.



About DC in DC

This entry was posted in Authors, Creative Writing, DC poetry, literature, poetry, publishing poetry, soon-to-be-published, submissions, Writing, Writing life. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Submitting poems to journals: the mathematics of yay or nay

  1. Pingback: A Poem For Gala « Bilingual Montessori Education

  2. Christie says:

    Great advice, thank you! I am going through some of this second-guessing and questioning myself right now.

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