The image is of a pink hydrangea flower in a china mug

On getting poems published

A few notes from recent chats

The poetry group I belong to, Trowbridge Stanza, met earlier this month to talk about routes into publishing, sharing our own stories of publication, and chatting about the different options available in the UK. We’re a mix of published and unpublished writers of different ages, backgrounds and experiences. Most of us had found publication by first sending work out to magazines and competitions and then sending to publishers during open submission windows. One person had applied to a development scheme offered by Dialect and was awarded the services of a mentor who’d worked with her to polish her pamphlet manuscript before she submitted it to small press Maytree Press, who then accepted it for publication. Another person had sent her manuscript to Indigo Dreams Publishing as part of a competition and had not been successful – but then the publisher had contacted her to say that they had liked her manuscript and was it still available? It was and it was published. Someone else had sent their pamphlet manuscript to Against the Grain Poetry Press and had been accepted. A couple of people had decided to self-publish and had produced beautiful, illustrated books using Blurb. My own experience was publishing a pamphlet and a full collection with tall-lighthouse and Nine Arches Press respectively, both times submitting during an open window.

As for submitting to magazines, some people felt put off by a steady stream of rejections. It was also pointed out that poems can be tied up for months because of slow responses by magazines so it’s wise to see if simultaneous submissions are acceptable. Careful selection and planning can also allow for ever-so-slightly-forbidden simultaneous submissions, as long as writers are meticulous about contacting magazines if a poem needs to be withdrawn. I shared my submissions system which is simply keeping an ink and paper book with date, name of poem/s, and publication title listed. Acceptances receive a splurge of green highlighter pen, while rejections receive a red dash. Simultaneous submissions are highlighted in yellow. (I’ve written about my submission system here).

We talked about courses and workshops to develop our poetry. Most, if not all of us, had had good experiences in general but there was a consensus that it’s wise to consider that not everything on offer represents genuine value for writer development and that often wider and deeper reading brings the best results.

Please note that I’ve also published this post at Substack.

3 thoughts on “On getting poems published”

  1. I also keep a database of what I’ve submitted, when and where along with green for acceptances and red for rejections. I also try to only submit to publications that accept simultaneous submissions so my poems are not held up for months on end. (Except when I submit to the National Federation of State Poetry Societies and the Poetry Society of Texas’s annual contests because those do not accept simultaneous submissions.)

    Liked by 1 person

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