Saturday, January 15, 2011

Hickory Poet How-To, Part III: Submitting Poetry for Publication


Continuing in our “Hickory Poet How-To” series, here are some tips on submitting poetry for journal publication.

1. Find the journals. maintains a database of over 3000 journals that publish poetry and fiction. Their database is constantly updated and includes a submission tracker program that will help you keep track of where you have submitted to and what the results were. You can find similar lists at (Poets & Writers) and Poets & Writers is a semi-monthly magazine that lists calls for submissions and upcoming contests, as does The Chronicle from Associated Writing Programs. The NC Writers’ Network emails a weekly newsletter to its members that includes calls for submissions. Main Street Rag has a similar monthly newsletter. If you like printed guides, you can find Poets’ Market in most bookstores or order The International Directory of Little Magazines and Small Presses from

2. Start Locally, preferably with editors you’ve met or chatted with online. Good journals in the NC piedmont include Wild Goose Poetry Review, Dead Mule, Referential, Iodine Poetry Journal, The Pedestal Magazine, and Main Street Rag. If you’re taking classes at a college or university, find out about the school’s literary magazine and submit to it.

3. Research your targets. If you haven’t read a recent issue of a journal, then don’t submit to them. Without knowing what kind of poetry they’re likely to publish, you’re setting yourself up for multiple rejections. Most journals have either sample poems or entire recent issues available online. Make sure you follow the journal’s submission guidelines as well or your work will probably be rejected without being read.

4. Include a cordial, but brief, cover letter and biography (unless the guidelines specifically ask that you not include them). Here is a sample of each:

Dear Editors,
Thank you for taking the time to consider the following poems for publication in _____. They have not been previously published, nor are they under consideration elsewhere. A brief bio follows. If you need anything else, please don't hesitate to contact me by email, phone (828-234-4266) or post (838 4th Ave. Dr. NW, Hickory, NC 28601.

I hope you enjoy the poems and look forward to hearing back from you.

(Bio) Author of 6 collections of poetry and over 800 poems published in journals and anthologies, Scott Owens is editor of Wild Goose Poetry Review, Vice President of the Poetry Council of North Carolina, and recipient of awards from the Pushcart Prize Anthology, the Academy of American Poets, the NC Writers’ Network, the NC Poetry Society, and the Poetry Society of SC. He holds an MFA from UNC Greensboro and currently teaches at Catawba Valley Community College. He grew up on farms and in mill villages around Greenwood, SC.

5. Keep records. I use a database to track where I’ve sent the poems to and what the results were. Duotrope’s program is just as good. Some people use index cards.

6. Don’t simultaneously submit. Some will disagree, but most journals respond within 4 months, and having the same poem out at multiple places is confusing and creates a real possibility that you might anger an editor or even create a copyright violation issue. The way I see it, If I have time to submit the same poem to several places, then I’m taking time away from writing new poems.

7. Be patient. There is no sort of standard rate, but my first acceptance came with my 25th submission, and for the first couple of years 1 acceptance for every 15 submissions seemed the norm for me. That gradually improved over the years, and now I have about a 50% success rate with submissions.

No comments:

Post a Comment