Denise R. Weuve

Ink Damage and Other Permanent Stains

How to Submit Poetry for the Novice & Not So Novice Poets

Poetry is Hard

A lot of sites talk about Writers in a chunk, as though we all fall into the same category.  And we do to an extent, but poets do have a slightly different road to travel.  People do not understand how much time it takes to write a poem, to critique, to revise, to rewrite, to rewrite, to rewrite. Many of us publish a poem knowing it will never be done to our liking, and others publish a poem and keep editing even after its publication.  All this to say, for the purpose of this blog I am only talking to Poets!

When getting ready to submit your work for publication, I would first be sure that there are no grammatical, punctuation or spelling mistake that are not intended for the poem.  If they are there, it gives the editor a bad impression of the writer.  As an editor, I feel like, “they couldn’t even take time to proof-read  the work?”  Then Investigate the magazine and read some (we know you cannot read all) of the work that appears on/in its pages.  I cannot tell you how often I shake my head, when the magazine I edit for, that only takes prose poems, gets regular left aligned poems.  It is a disrespectful move that immediately tells the editor(s) that you not only did not read the magazine but also ignored the guidelines.

poets-corner-colorThe basics of formatting:

  • single spaced
  • spacing between lines indicates a new stanza
  • aligned left
  • if you choose to align differently make it purposeful
  • note odd spacing is difficult for editors if you do choose to use a non traditional align left space with tab bar, it makes life easier for the editor(s)
  • one inch margins (many computers have 1.25″ margin, it is a simple fix)
    • I do not think this is a big deal for editors, but good to know
  • bold title that adheres and adhere to title punctuation
  • do not put title in all caps or italicize, both of those are a publisher’s decision
  • do not include your name on individual poems unless specified by editor(s)

 Cover letter:

Some publishers don’t even want a cover letter, but some do.  If they do, or ask for email submissions, remember to be polite.  Seems like I should not have to say that.  Sadly it does have to be said.  If a publisher or editor asked for a cover letter, please make it more than a list of poems and your name.  Go with a simply friendly interaction that can be customized quickly for all your submitting needs.  Do your research, and mention something on the site that you loved, and why you think you will fit into their aesthetic.

  • Intro – who you are & how you found out about the journal
  • body – something you loved in their journal
  • closing – thank you for taking the time to read your poems (list the poems in order they will see them)

The bio:

  • Never been published before?
    • It is okay.  Make your bio short, and a little quirky.  BUT PLEASE STOP TELLING US that you have been writing since you picked up a pen.  It is not interesting and it does not let us know anything about you.
  • Been published before.
    • That is great, now let’s have some compassion for the editors and the readers, both of which would like to tell you that we do not need to know every place you have been published, and every book that has published you.  A good rule of thumb (that I will admit to breaking on occasion) list 3 journals you have been published in and 2 most recent books, even if you have 8 books.  If you have awards, give them one.  This is your contributors bio, not the bio for your book

Seems like a lot of information, and tomorrow I’ll give you a couple of sites to try, if you are ready to make an attempt at submitting.  All places that were extremely ind to me when I began.

Happy Poeting Cats and Kittens!

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