AWP 2015 Debrief, Part 1

I attended several panels on publication, a panel on the sonnet (in case you don’t know, my graduate lecture was about the modern sonnet), a panel on revision, another on translation and a very interesting panel on balancing work for an arts organization with the creative life.

Panels on publication were among the best-attended, as if there were a secret system for getting one’s work accepted. There isn’t. These panels reinforced common sense: Treat your work and the editors with respect and complete professionalism. Know the publications to which you send your work, which means read or subscribe to those publications. Send only your best, completed work. If you are still revising, you’re sending it out too soon. Do not send anything that is cliché or slick. Do not make the assumption “big-named” journals are the best. Do send work with a strong voice that begs the reader to keep reading and re-reading. Learn how to submit online. Online submissions are far more the norm than postal submissions.

Several editors reported receiving submissions anywhere from four to five figures, which can lead to a hefty backlog. Many of these publications report acceptances at a rate less than .50 of 1%. Keep these figures in mind when you send your work to the most “popular” publications.

I’ll discuss some of the other panels and the book fair in upcoming posts.

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