30 April 2019
Welcome to the real world of getting
your poems published..
Photo by Bob Lambert:
Lynda shows off her copy
of an anthology her poem is published in.
Facing the Competition:
Some facts to help you stay balanced.
When you receive a response from a poetry competition are you curious about how many submissions they received? I am!
Most of the time, there are fees
to enter your work for publication.
The entry fee may be as little as $2.
or much more – many are in the $20 and up range.
I have a friend who sets a limit of $15. for entry fees.
My advice is to be SENSIBLE –
Set a limit that works best for you and stick to it.
Lynda’s 5 Sensible Tips for Success In Publishing
1. Establish your budget before you do anything else.
Set a monetary limit about what you will pay for entry fees and don’t get caught up in emotional submissions. Do some homework before you spend your money on entries. Look through the publications that publisher is putting out and think about your own work. Ask, does my poem fit with what I see here?
Sometimes when you get your rejection letter, the editor will give you the facts about how many people entered their work and how many poems or manuscripts they chose for publication. Personally, I like to have this information because it gives me a better idea of what the competition is like for that particular magazine, anthology, or a full-length book or Chapbook.
I give you 2 examples I received recently:
Thanks again for participating in our 2018 Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest. This was an extremely competitive contest with
and I regret you did not win a prize.
For a chapbook publication contest I entered, the rejection notice alerted me to the fact that “over 350 entries were received,” for just ONE publication award.
These are sobering pieces of information and though most of the publications do not give us the number of entries they had to sift through, I suspect they are fairly high in most instances. If the poetry contest gives a big cash award, you can bet you will most likely pay a lot for the submission.
2. Read the Guidelines carefully. The Guidelines will give you everything you need to know about how to enter your work.
Every publication has an underlying philosophy of what they want to publish.
My advice is to look at a few copies of the publication so you are aware of what they are publishing. Every publication has an underlying core concept of what they will choose to print. Make sure your writings “fit” with the world view that is embraced by the publication. EVERY publication has an underlying worldview so you have to learn how to decide what it is.
Do your homework if you want to be successful with your entries.
Some are theme-based such as Nature, Religion Humor, Animals, Fantasy,
Read the guidelines carefully so that you don’t waste time and money by entering your poem in a publication that does not fit what you do.
Pay attention to the details. Do they want the poem in the body of an e-mail?
Do they want a cover letter?
Do they want the poem in an attachment to your e-mail?
If they take more than one poem, do they want you to put all of your poem entries into one file and then attach that file to your e-mail?
3. Before you send off your submission, review the Guidelines one last time to be certain you are sending exactly what the editor wants.
One sure way to get your entry eliminated is to send the wrong information.
4. Be patient. You may get a quick response back – sometimes I’ve had a response in an hour! But that is unusual.
Typically it will be weeks or months before you know your poem’s fate.
For some of your submissions, they may go through the hands of many readers before decisions are made. It is not unusual for an editor to drop a lot of entries before giving the remaining ones to the judge or selection panel to work with.
Sometimes the judge decides what will be printed, and then turns those poems over to the juror for the selection of awards. This is common and it is done this way in many art exhibitions as well.
There are times when I have given up on hearing anything and then I get a surprise response. You just never know how long it will take before you get your results. Consider it a “waiting game.” While I am awaiting results, I am busy sending off more poems to other places.
5. Be realistic. When a particular publication has hundreds or thousands of entries, you know your odds are slim to none.
I’ve entered some of those, but not so much. I don’t like to throw money away – I’m not a gambler. Usually when the entry fee is high, you will get a free subscription to that journal. Consider that a donation to the arts.
6. An editor can make or break your opportunity to get your work published.
Regardless of the response you get – remember your manners.
Say “thank you” and perhaps you can figure out something positive to say about this experience.
Your poems may be rejected a time or two, but if you are warm and positive in your interactions with an editor, they will remember you. Sometimes, if you build a bridge with them, they will give you good advice that you can apply for the next time you send your poems to other places. I have learned so much by communicating with editors after I’ve had work ejected.
In the future, that editor may ask you to write a review for their publication, or be willing to recommend your work to others as well as publish it eventually. Remember that editors have feelings and they might need your support or help in the future.
Patience wins the race every time!
Lynda McKinney Lambert. Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved.
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