Submissions

Poetry Submission Resource: Creative Writers Opportunities List

After Duotrope, I have found this to be the best resource for new calls for submission. The Creative Writers Opportunities List (or CWROPPS) is a 13,000 + Yahoo Group moderated by poet and editor Allison Joseph. The group was created in 2005, though I have not been a member quite that long.

A new list is emailed to subscribers daily unless the moderator is on hiatus (which happens to be the case this week). Since this is a “list,” you cannot run a search. The list contains calls for submissions, contests, writing residencies, and creative writing job opportunities for poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction. A brief description of each item, which is provided by the person who submitted the item, is included. Web sites for further information for each listing are also provided.

If you like culling information from a paragraph of text rather than a format such as Duotrope uses, CWROPPS will appeal to you.

You may subscribe to the list by emailing: crwropps-b-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

 

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Why hasn’t my chapbook manuscript been selected for publication yet?

If you’ve been submitting your chapbook manuscript and watching your bank account shrink because of reading fees, this question may be on your mind. Here are some thoughts on the subject from my own experience and observation.

 

Over the past 10 years, the world of publishing has been inundated with MFA graduates, most with at least a chapbook-sized creative thesis presumed to be ready for publication. That was me in 2007. When my final mentor at Bennington told me, when asked, that about 50% of my creative thesis would make for a good manuscript, my first thought was “Oh, chapbook.” That was not meant in the most positive way at that time.

 

Like so many others of the pre-millenial generation, I was skeptical of the merit of chapbooks. Several friends had chapbooks published by very, very small presses and had tales of woe about doing their own marketing, chasing down reading venues, etc. However, over the past 15 years the chapbook has become a highly respectable means of publication, with more presses including chapbook titles in their catalogs. This trend encourages more poets to complete chapbook manuscripts rather than full-length collections, as did I after five years of struggling with the issue.

 

Then there is the cost of producing a printed chapbook. Most contest fees cover the cost, but for publishers that do not run contests, have no major outside funding, or require no reading fees, the number of chapbooks they can produce is smaller. Even those publishers that operate under the contest model are less likely to opt to publish additional manuscripts from the list of non-winning finalists than in times past. Thankfully for me, the judge of Bright Hill’s 2013 chapbook contest selected my chapbook and another as co-winners and Bright Hill was gracious enough to publish both.

 

Another element is the increasing popularity of publishing ebooks rather than print. It may be difficult for some poets (again, of certain generations) to consider ebooks equivalent to the printed page, despite the fact that an online presence has the potential to reach far more readers than a 200 book print run.

 

There is also a growing market for multi-media publishing to which some publishers are migrating, mostly in the digital realm, as more technologically savvy editors assume their roles as those decision-makers.

 

Another factor is timing. Poets & Writers runs an annual feature introducing new poets with first books. While these are not chapbooks, there is one similarity to be observed. Few of those chosen for this special section had their manuscripts picked up immediately. For many it was several years. I was thrilled that I had only submitted my chapbook to 15 publishers/contests over the course of seven months prior to it winning at Bright Hill.

 

Finally, it all comes down to the ultimate decision-maker, be that an editor or a judge. There is no way to predict how many wonderful manuscripts are read and dismissed or passed along for the decision-maker to select just one.

 

When I began submitting my chapbook, I knew I was competing against some of my friends with strong manuscripts in very different writing styles and I even shared being a finalist with one of them. I told myself to give it a year and then to consider other options. I would advise that you do the same, submitting to as many places as possible, both financially and aesthetically, for at least a full year.

 

I hope these thoughts help to ease your frustration.

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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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What! Fall reading? It’s still July!

Friday opens the 2014 Fall reading season, the most opportune time for poets to have their work considered for publication by the largest number of journals seeking unsolicited submissions. The floodgates at Submittable, Submission Manager, Tell It Slant as well as the inboxes on editors’ desks and emails open beginning August 1 through September 15.

What you can expect to see this fall: Sadly, there will be an increase in the number of publications requiring reading fees in order to consider your work. No, these are not contest fees. Despite what some journals like to call their fees, they are money required for a journal’s staff to read the work you submit to them, hence “reading fees.” Reading fees that journals charge range from $1 per submission (usually 3-5 poems) to $10 per submission. The former and latter are very rare; reading fees in the 2013-2014 reading period averaged $3 per submission.

There will still be plenty of publications reading for free. Personally, as a poet, I am more inclined to support a journal without reading fees. But we need to be open to paying a journal for the privilege of reading our work. It stings. Poets rarely get paid when their work is accepted for publication. However, many journals are staffed by volunteers who believe in the value of literary pursuit and find fulfillment in publishing our work. I can much more easily accept not being paid for my work when I know the editors choosing to publish it have no monetary gain to do so.

What else? Expect an increase in online submissions with a corresponding decrease in postal submissions. This is not a new trend. Online submissions will continue to grow for the foreseeable future.

Finally, is the migration of more publications to the internet from print. Cost is the greatest driver behind this movement. Migrating away from print is not a bad thing. Consider how many potential readers your work may reach on the internet when published by a quality online journal as opposed to the number of potential readers finding your work in print.

What does this mean for Poetic Effect? Fall reading will be as busy as ever. Calendar slots will fill quickly. If you are interested in having submissions of your work prepared during fall reading, email me Claudia@poeticeffect.com to reserve your place in the queue. Reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis.

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What does that rejection letter mean?

You dread receiving that #10 envelope addressed to you with the label you stuck on it and sent with your poems to “Journal X.” Or, it’s that email you see in your inbox and cringe as you open it. The form rejection letter.

Here’s a link to an article decoding 4 rejection letter types you may see. http://lizkay.net/2014/05/03/advice-for-poets-what-it-means-when-a-journal-says-no-or-anything-other-than-yes/.

By the way, I prefer the term “response” over the negative term “rejection.”

Have you received an unusual response? Post a comment if you’d like to share.

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Literary Journal Reading Fees

Last week, I did something I hoped I would never do. I paid a reading fee to a literary journal for the submission of my work.

I have made my feelings about reading fees clear in the past and they have not changed. Why would I break with my own protocol? I had prepared the submission file and begun the process with the journal’s online submission software and got to the point where payment appeared. I’ll admit to being torn. My initial reaction was to close the window and move on. But, I had questions. Would the non-contest reading fee this journal charges in any way make a difference in how my submission fared? Could I expect a more timely response?

I wanted answers that would only satisfy me from personal experience. So, I paid the $3.00, knowing it probably would not make a difference in how my submission would be handled and I took comfort that I was at least monetarily supporting the journal.

Just to reiterate my feelings about non-contest reading fees, I compare the trend to airline baggage fees. Once one airline started charging, others soon followed until just about every airline in existence now charges baggage fees. It is taking a bit longer to catch on in the publishing industry, but charging reading fees for non-contest submissions is undeniably a growing trend.

In theory, these reading fees should not be objectionable. Publishing poetry and other literary creative writing is not a money maker. Most journals exist from the desire of people who love quality literature and want to share that literature with the world. Noble. Admirable. We should be grateful for these people and the publications they produce, whether online or in print. I am grateful. Truly.

However, as a poet, I can tell you from personal experience that, for the most part, poetry does not pay monetarily. There is a bit of the sting of the pay-for-publication stigma, whether or not that sentiment is justified. Many wonderful poets can’t afford reading fees; they have a difficult time just paying their bills. What are the implications of excluding these poets? Will there be a difference in the quality of the poetry published due to a smaller submission pool?

As fall reading begins and new guidelines are being rolled out, I am monitoring the trend.

If you are an editor of a literary journal, please share your thoughts on this subject.

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Guest Blog on Poetry Contests

From time to time, guest bloggers will be posting on topics related to poetry and publication. When guests do post, please remember that their words and opinions are their own and may or may not be shared by me. Guest bloggers are not given preferential treatment by Poetic Effect.

Today’s guest blogger is Donna M. Marbach, publisher at Palettes & Quills.

Poetry Contests, Our Community Projects

Poets & Writers magazine in its May/June 2012 issue published an article, that all serious poets should read, “The Risks and Rewards of Writing Contests” the article, by Michael Bourne, makes an interesting point. The contests are a kind of community project. Poets’ reading fees help support the whole concept of poetry by allowing publishers to continue publishing it. Readers, in turn, are exposed to poetry they otherwise would never see. “A community project” is certainly how Palettes & Quills (http://www.palettesnquills.com/) sees its own biennial chapbook contest.

Bourne’s extensive article examines what happens with the money from contest fees, suggests how one can determine ethical contests, and poses pros and cons to help readers decide whether entering contests is “worth it.” Though you, as poet, are really the only one who can answer the worth of contests, Bourne notes, “Unless your work is showing up in prestigious literary magazines or you have a connection to the editors at a press that publishes poetry, writing contests probably offer the best way to ensure that your work will at least get a fair reading.”

If contests truly are the best way to have your work read, how can you maximize your chance of winning one?

First and foremost, it is critical that you obtain and read the rules or guidelines for submitting and don’t assume that your poems constitute an exception to the rule. Contest administrators have rules for a reason and (whether you think they are reasonable or not), if you want to have any chance at winning, pay attention to them. If the rules are unclear or you believe you have a justifiable “exception” to something, write the administrator beforehand and get a clarification.

Secondly, know something about the final judge. It is useful to know the background, work and philosophy of whoever has been named the final judge. If you are not familiar with him/her, do some research. While it is not necessary or even desirable that your work be the same or similar to that of the judge, it is useful to know whether or not he/she might like or dislike your style of poetry.

Another tip you may wish to consider is to submit your manuscript as early as you can in the reading process. Avoid a last minute submission if at all possible. So many manuscripts come in right before a deadline that first readers can be overcome by the volume of manuscripts they have to read. You risk having your work being given a less than a positive rating simply because it is the 10th or 12th manuscript the reader has reviewed that day.

Also when entering a contest, in addition to considering the prize itself, take some time to consider who and how much competition you’re going to have. For example, if you enter Prairie Schooner Book Prize for $25, you could win $2,500 and publication (no specific number of books) but you would also be competing with 628 other poets. If you enter Palettes & Quills for $20, your prize is $200 plus 50 books, and you will only be competing against 140 or so other poets. Quite honestly, beginning and emerging poets have much better chances at winning some of the smaller and lesser known contests, thus making them a better bet for getting their work out and about.

Finally, submit a quality manuscript. Not only should your manuscript be clean, legible, and without spelling, typographical or grammatical errors, it should be a single work of some quality. Just as a poem should be more than a jumble of words, a good manuscript should be more than a bunch of poems. There are many ways to order a manuscript – too many to discuss in this essay. Nonetheless, no matter how you do it, you should arrange your poems according to some underlying theory that makes them a cohesive book.

In the end, contests are certainly one way to participate in the sharing of poetry. They provide poets with an opportunity to expose their work and to grow as poets. They allow publishers, especially small, independent publishers an opportunity to publish and disseminate good poetry to more people. And they allow readers, editors, and judges to assist in bringing good poetry into a spotlight that might not exist without them. Contests are indeed “a community project,” one in which we all can compete yet support each other at the same time.

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Richard Snyder Poetry Prize Winner Announced

Gabriel Spera’s manuscript The Rigid Body was chosen by Natasha Tretheway for publication by Ashland Poetry Press later this year.

Manuscripts are now being accepted for the 2012 Snyder Prize. Contact me soonest if you would like your manuscript prepped for this and other spring poetry book/chap book competitions.

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