When Submitting for Publication
“A Few Things to Consider”
By Charles Banks, Jr.
When submitting your poetry for possible publication, there are a few things you (an optimistic poet) should consider.
1. First, even if you don’t get published, or lose the contest, your writing has meaning. Your writing will always have meaning! A word of advice: never write to get published. Write to write! It’s an elaborate journey filled with treacherous roads and bountiful fruits at the end.
2. Most publications and poetry presses have back issues of previously published anthologies and past contest winners available. Before submitting, you should first purchase a copy of a back issue or read previous winning poems to see what catches their eye. Publications and poetry presses are run by actual human beings with biases toward certain topics and styles of writing. Another word of advice: it is fair to note that publications/poetry presses often search for works that meet certain themes. So do not submit poems about racism when contest guidelines ask for love poems (unless, of course, your poem(s) are about interracial love). This seems trivial, but some poets make this mistake.
3. Follow the exact instructions of the publication or contest. For instance, if the rules or guidelines state to send submissions in a RTF or Word e-mail attachment, follow the rule. Some publications are flexible and lenient. However, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but most are anal like that. Sorry ahead of time!
4. Remain persistent! Many great works have been rejected multiple times. Harry Potter was given the red light a dozen times before it was published and became one of the most popular book series in history. The Help, a novel by Kathryn Stockett was rejected 60 times (yes, six, zero) before it was published. The novel went on to become a New York Times Bestseller and was adapted into a critically acclaimed film. Carrie, by Stephen King was rejected 30 times! Gone with the Wind, 38 times! A final word of advice: you will never get published unless you take a chance. Submitting your writing for publication is like standing up to a bully in school, or conquering glossophobia (fear of public speaking). Never give up on your dreams of getting published! You never know, your poem or novel may become one of the greatest of all-time!
* Charles Banks, Jr.