Written by A Guest Author

How to Choose Publications for Your Poetry

By Trish Hopkinson

You’ve written and revised your poetry and now you have some finished work you’d like to share with an audience. To help yourself focus on the types of markets you’d like to be published in, ask yourself what’s most important to you. Consider the following and rate each by importance. If they are all equal, that’s ok!

  • Getting payment for your work
  • Visibility from a wide audience (top/mid-tier markets)
  • Supporting university student-run journals
  • Supporting a specific demographic, e.g. feminist or women-focused, disabled community, BIPOC lit mags/journals (if applicable)
  • Hitting a goal of certain number of submissions, rejections, or acceptances in a specific timeframe
  • Working with editors you admire
  • Only submitting to no fee markets
  • Winning awards
  • Urgency (topics on current events or publication prior to a reading or collection release)

Where to Find Markets

There are many resources online to find markets open for submission and it can be overwhelming. If a giant list feels like too much to process and sort through, consider some easier to access options:

Researching a Market

Once you’ve identified some markets you want to submit to, do a little research to see if it’s the right fit for your work.

  • Consider the value of your time and how much time seems reasonable to you to review a specific lit mag or journal. A process of quick review and elimination can save time:
    • Skim the web site and ask yourself (5 minutes):
      • Do I like the aesthetic?
      • Is the site professionally done and current?
      • Are the menus easy to navigate?
      • Would you be proud to share with friends, family, and the poetry community if published?
    • If the answer was yes to the above, there are a couple of approaches I use. My first approach is to just go ahead and send, especially if there is no fee to submit. My second approach is to spend a little more time familiarizing myself with the types of work they publish (10-30 minutes):
      • If urgency is important due to poem topics and/or to support an upcoming reading or collection publication, check Duotrope for response statistics or submission guidelines to see if they disclose their average turnaround time or check my site, since I include turnaround time in detailed section at the bottom of each interview
      • If visibility is important to you, you can gauge their presence by checking their social media accounts for number of followers, frequency of activity (How often do they post? Have they been active recently? Are the engaging with the community with helpful articles and tips? Do they promote and cross-promote their contributors work? For example SWWIM often shares work published elsewhere by past contributors.)
      • Check the Masthead and/or About pages to see who the editors are and for information about their mission
      • Read the submission guidelines for queues to what they are looking for
      • Skim the table of contents for a couple of recent issues to see if they have published poets you admire or to whose work you identify
      • Read a few poems in one or two issues
      • Search for reviews and interviews with the editors:

Solicitations

Just because a lit mag or journal asks you for work may not mean they are ready to publish it, but are interested in considering it for publication. Do the same research (if not more) for a publication who reached out to you directly to ask for your work; while it’s flattering and amazing when it happens, make sure it’s a good fit and don’t feel obligated to send work. Saying no can be simple, keep it to a quick “Thank you for your interest, but I don’t currently have poems ready for publication,” or “Thank you for your interest, but I’ll pass for now.”

Other Tips

Try to balance your time in a way that pleases you most. Some days I want to write new work, some days I want to focus on revision or workshopping, others–the busy work of submitting is more fulfilling.

Don’t worry about how prolific other poets are or if your peers are getting published more frequently than you are. Your success as a poet is based on your own expectations and goals. If you set out to publish as many poems as possible in a year and send to a wide variety and levels of markets (and send a LOT), you can hit your goal. If you want to focus more on creating and honing your craft, submitting and publication may not matter at all. If you’ve hit a period where poetry isn’t calling to you, give yourself permission to take a break and focus your efforts elsewhere until the passion returns.


Bio: Trish Hopkinson is a poet, blogger, and advocate for the literary arts. You can find her online at SelfishPoet.com where she shares submission calls and publication tips. She resides in Utah, where she runs the nonprofit group Rock Canyon Poets and curates the Poetry Happens series for KRCL 90.9 FM.

 

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