Writer’s Relief has helped hundreds of writers submit their poetry to literary journals and magazines, and as those of you who regularly read our Newsflash for Writers know, we’re pleased to share our techniques with you. If you’ve been hoping to publish your poems by submitting poetry to literary magazines, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get your poems to editors to increase your chances of getting an acceptance letter.
Write awesome poems. One would think this goes without saying. However, if you’re not reading the poetry that is being published in literary journals and magazines, then you won’t know how your poetry stacks up. Read to improve your technique, to support the underfunded literary journals that publish poetry like yours, and to engage with modern aesthetics. In other words, don’t just think your poems are awesome: know that they’re awesome. Then you’ll be ready to successfully submit.
Research markets. We’ve written quite a bit on our blog about how to find the best markets for your poetry. You can research journals online, or you can buy a market guide. Be prepared for researching to take a lot of time (generally, Writer’s Relief has found that you’ll need to send any given poem to 100 markets before you throw in the towel). You’ll have to reevaluate:
Calls for submission (theme, topics, etc.)
If you’re not up to the task of doing the research, you can use our A La Carte Service (we will target 25+ markets that will be a nice fit for your particular type of poetry). Or you can read more about how to research markets on your own.
Choose 3 to 5 of your best poems for submission. Most literary magazines will not read more than five poems per submission. The poems may or may not be thematically related. Here is an article about why length matters for poetry, and how to write poems of the best length.
Format and proofread your poems. Skip the big, unique fonts—stick with something simple and traditional. Put your name and contact info on every poem. Also, note page numbers on poems that are longer than one page.
Write your cover letter. Keep it simple. Include the titles of your poems, a brief professional bio, and a courteous closure. If you want to be clever, do so at your own risk. Click for an article with more information on how to write a cover letter.
Put your submission together. Paper clip or staple? SASE or e-mail address? Here’s an article with information on how to physically mail your work.
Keep track of where you send your poems. Be prepared to send out many, many submissions and receive many, many rejections. Embrace the large numbers of submissions and the equally large numbers of rejections as part of the process. You’ll need to find a way to keep track of who is reading what, who has rejected what, and who made a nice comment and/or asked to see more work from you in the future so that you can send work to them again.
Get ready to do it all again. Making submissions habitually and regularly is what gets acceptances. So suck it up and get those poems out there, soldier!
At Writer’s Relief we manage all of the above processes for our clients (with the exception of writing your awesome poems!) For an overview of our services, visit www.WritersRelief.com.