Advice To Novice Writers

 

 

If you are just at the start of your writing career and you are just champing at the bit, dying to see your name in lights, here’s some practical advice to help you on your way.  Do consider this advice carefully.  In the long run, it will save you a fortune in stamps, and it may also save you some embarrassment.  I speak as a writer and artist who has wasted many stamps and made many embarrassing mistakes along the way.  I also speak as an editor who has often been exasperated (and indeed infuriated) by those who know nothing about submission etiquette.  I’ll explain this in due course, and will even endeavour to enlighten you as to why this etiquette exists.

 

Before we approach the hows and whys of submission etiquette, ask yourself this, are you ready for your work to be published?  Do you feel your work is mature?  Have you developed a voice of your own?  Ten years down the line, will you regret having published before your work was sufficiently developed?   These points are well worth considering.  It may well be worthwhile to test the waters by getting involved in a writers’ circle or getting down to an ‘open mic’ session at your local pub (and if you don’t know of any in your locality, try an internet search on google and you’re bound to find something, just put in the name of the nearest town and key words like ‘writers circle’ or ‘creative writing’ and you’re bound to find something). 

 

You may think that the ultimate litmus test of the quality of your work is whether it gets accepted or rejected by the literature magazines out there, but I feel duty bound to disabuse you of that notion.  Good quality work will often get rejected, purely because of the stylistic biases of the editor; and even works of innovative genius will frequently be returned with a polite ‘thank you, but NO’.  Even worse than that is that mediocre and even downright dreadful work can and often does get published, and not just by the vanity presses.  You see, the thing is, anyone who has the inclination can set up a magazine.  The outlay is relatively low, as new business ventures go.  The only thing you need at your disposal is time: lots of it!  You don’t even need business acumen to run a poetry magazine, because lets face it, the only poetry magazines that don’t make a loss are those that are funded by arts councils or universities.  So, in a nutshell, any idiot can start up a poetry magazine, and many do!  So beware of trying to get published too hastily, for you may well succeed.

 

Okay, let’s say you’ve read a few of your poems at an open mic session and not been booed off the stage, and maybe even you’ve done some creative writing workshops and you are convinced your stuff is ready for publication, what now?

 

First, you need to research your market.  You need to find out which magazines would be suitable vehicles for your work.  It may seem obvious to say it, but there are plenty of people who waste stamps and pay no heed to this simple bit of advice.  Relentless, they post their rhyming love poems to experimental poetry magazines, their horror poems to church magazines and their ranting, streams of consciousness to formalist, academic journals; wasting their time and money, and wasting magazine editors’ time too.  The only people that benefit from this are the directors of the soon to be privatised mail service.

 

The best way to conduct your market research is to start buying poetry magazines.  This will be beneficial not just to you, but to the magazines too.  For even though there are hundreds of millions of budding poets out there, most poetry magazines have dismal circulation figures, rarely even into four figures.  So an extra subscriber is always welcomed. Of course, no-one but the idle rich could afford to subscribe to every magazine they intend to submit to, that goes without saying, but taking out a couple of subscriptions won’t kill you... won’t even cost as much as night on the skite.  So get your priorities right!  Without these magazines about, your precious poems will remain unpublished and unloved.  Seriously though, every week I hear about another magazine that has gone to the wall because of poor subscription take up.  Support the magazines you expect to publish you!

 

Aside from buying poetry magazines, you can conduct your research over the internet.  Most magazines now have some sort of web presence, so check out their web sites.  You’ll usually find submission guidelines and information about editorial tastes; and many magazines post sample poems on their website.  This is your best way of assessing the suitability of your work for their magazine.  It is a time consuming process, especially if you have only got a dial up connection, but it will save you a fortune in stamps and considerably reduce the amount of rejection slips you accumulate.  You can also do further research in poetry libraries.  There’s one in London, in the South Bank Centre, and another in Edinburgh, off the Canongate.  There may be others in the UK that I don’t know about, but most cities have reference libraries that stock a range of more established poetry magazines like The Poetry Review, Chapman, Outposts, Orbis and Ambit.  (Apologies to readers from outside the UK, but I’m sure you’ll be able to find the information you require through an internet search engine).

 

Okay, lets assume you’ve done your research and you’ve chosen the magazines you wish to submit to.  Now you have to think about presentation.  Seriously, you do.  There’s no point in sending scrawled, hand written work with crossings out and coffee cup stains.  Straight up, the editor isn’t even going to bother reading them.  After all, if you can’t be bothered making an effort, why should he or she?  Editors have to trawl through thousands upon thousands of submissions every year, so why not increase your chances of success and make it easy for them to read your work?  There are a few simple rules to follow, and they make perfect sense. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you’ll have gathered from the above, each time you submit material to a magazine it’s going to set you back at least 50 pence in stamps and stationary, if not more.  It’s an expensive business, and not generally a profitable one, as most magazines only pay in contributors’ copies.  You may want to look for ways of economising, and with the advent of the Internet, you might be tempted to email your submissions instead.  All I can say to this is, ‘yield not to temptation’.  Unsolicited email submissions are the bane of most editors’ lives, and are second only to non-inclusion of SAEs in the list of contributors’ sins.  Most print magazines will not accept email submissions.  There are many good reasons for this: the potential transmission of computer destroying viruses being not least of them.  That said, some print magazines will accept email submissions, and I have noted those I know of in their listing, but there are usually conditions attached.  For easy searching I have used yellow highlighter to show print magazines that accept electronic submissions. Whilst most print magazines do not accept electronic submissions, most internet magazines or e-zines do.  So, if you are really skint this would be the obvious avenue to go down.  I've listed over 800 internet magazines in the internet magazines links section of this website.  You should be aware however that only a handful of internet zines have a sizeable readership.  Most people still prefer to read their poetry on paper.

 

It’s an expensive business trying to get your work published.  Every time you submit some work it’s like putting a bet on a horse in what will feel like a rigged race, and even if you do win, your prize will most likely be just a complimentary copy of the magazine your piece is published in.  If your work is well-constructed and in keeping with the zeitgeist, you may be able to place it in one of the few magazines that actually pays, but even then, don’t expect to be handsomely rewarded for your efforts.  Most payments are dismal, if you think of the hours put in and the expenses incurred.  In truth, if you want to earn money you’d be better to get a job as a pot washer in a third world country, because they get paid more per hour than most writers.  If you’re a poet, God help you.  Even the most famous poets in the world have to have day jobs.  If you’re a novelist, at least you can live in hope of being the next Irvine Welsh, but before you let your dreams build you up too high, here’s a sobering statistic: only one in a hundred completed manuscripts ever get published; and only one in a hundred published authors actually earn a reasonable living from royalties.  Statistically speaking, you’d still better keep the day job!   But before you even start to dream about poetry collections and novels, you’ve still got to get over the hurdle of rejection.  Rejection is going to stalk you like a demon.  As soon as you send that first batch of poems out you are going to be walking in that demon’s shadow.  You better get used to it, because pretty soon you’re going to have enough rejection slips to wallpaper a room, and at 50 pence a rejection, that’s pretty expensive wallpaper.

 

If all this has put you off, well and good, because you don’t have the stomach for it.  Go and get another hobby!  Seriously, I’m not kidding.  If you want to be a writer you are going to need a hide of iron.  Rejections sting like buggery, and even after years and years in the game - even knowing the fickle nature of editors - most experienced writers will tell you that a well-crafted rejection can still throw their whole raison d'etre into the cold abyss of self-doubt.  Although they are few and far apart, there are some editors out there who are unrepentant sociopaths: they actually take pleasure in one-upmanship headgames and will spend an incredible amount of their energy dreaming up caustic rejection notes, designed to shake up the very foundations of your being.  Do not be deterred by these people.  You will find, almost invariably, that these people are failed poets.  That is, they dreamed about being the next Ted Hughes or T.S. Eliot, but the most they achieved was the publication of a few slim volumes that sold only a few hundred copies... and now they are taking out their revenge on you.  Of course, almost every magazine editor could be described as a disappointed poet, because almost every one of them has dreamt at some time of being the next poet laureate, but, fortunately, most of them are not bastards and can accept that you too share such beautiful dreams... and even if they don't like your poem - even if they would rather chew razorblades than read another of your poems - they will send you the same impersonal rejection slip that they would send out to anyone else.  And if they are sympathetic to poets' plights in general, that rejection slip will be crafted in such a way that your hopes, aspirations and dreams will be left intact after it is received.   

 

That said, you don’t need to take every rejection personally. With a little experience, you will learn to calm the inner voices that tell you you’re an abject failure just because Joe Bloggs at X, Y or Z magazine has rejected your poems.  Editors are not the ultimate arbiters of what is and isn’t good work.  Editors are frequently blinded by their own biases and tastes.  It is not uncommon for poems to be rejected by numerous magazines and then accepted by another.  I’ve had poems rejected by a succession of scrotty little xeroxed rags, only to be finally accepted by a serious literary heavyweight.  There is no obvious logic to this; and often it is just a process of trial and error, but with time and experience you will slowly get to understand what makes poetry editors tick and will thus be able to target your poems a bit more accurately.  So, persevere in the face of all adversity.

 

Perseverance is a necessary virtue in this game.  So is patience.  You are going to wait a long, long time to see your work in print.  First, you need to wait to find out whether your work has been accepted or rejected.  Then, if it has been accepted, you are going to have to wait some more before you see it published.  It is not uncommon to wait three months before you hear of a decision, and in some cases, it can be as long as a year, depending on the publication schedule of the magazine in question.  As a rule of thumb, you should wait at least three months before getting in touch with the editor to query the status of your submission.  As for how long you are going to wait to see your accepted submission published, well, usually at least a year, but quite often you will have to wait even longer.  My personal record for the gap between acceptance and publication is thirteen years, and this dubious honour goes to Global Tapestry Journal who accepted my poem ‘Sartre’s Eyes’ in 1987 and published it in 2000.  I must admit, I had given up on the possibility of seeing my poem published in Global Tapestry Journal.  I assumed the magazine had folded.  This does happen a lot: you’ll get your poem accepted, and the magazine will fold before your poem gets published.  This is called Sod’s Law.  Some believe that Sod’s Law is a universal truth, which even Einstein couldn’t negate; others (of a sunnier disposition) believe it’s a myth.  Believe me, in the world of poetry publishing, Sod’s Law prevails.  Get used to it!

 

Another instance of Sod’s Law is the first time you break the almost holy commandment of ‘thou shalt not simultaneously submit’ you’ll get the same poem accepted by two magazines.  So, what will you do then?  Hmmm....  well, you could always chance your arm and let both magazines publish the same poem.  Truth be told, I used to do this.  I figured, what the hell, both magazines have only a tiny circulation, why shouldn't my poem be published twice over?  But I learned my lesson later on, when an illustration of mine was accepted by a very prestigious Canadian poetry magazine with a promised payment of $100.  Before the magazine in question went to print, they found the same illustration published in an internet magazine and refused to use my work.  I not only lost out on publication and $100, but also on the chances of any future acceptances with that magazine.  You see, in both America and Canada, magazines will very often insist on First Serial Rights (often including electronic rights).  Even magazines that don't pay often insist on First Serial Rights.  And if you are a UK writer, used only to the way the UK magazine market works, you will be surprised - maybe even flabbergasted - when you start dealing with US and Canadian magazines.  Not only will they probably insist on all sorts of rights, but they will also often send you a contract.  Again, even some that don't pay will still insist on this pre-publication hoop-jumping.  Do read these contracts very carefully before signing them.  Mostly it's just standard fare, and you will retain copyright of your poem, but best to make sure, just in case you are signing yourself off to a life of indefinite servitude.  In the UK, contracts are usually the reserve of anthologies and collections.  Magazines will rarely ask you to sign away any rights, but that said, UK magazine editors often get the hump if they find out that they have published your poem and it was previously published elsewhere. 

 

Believe me, you really don’t want to piss magazine editors off.   Editors may be eccentric, cantankerous and even unreasonable, but they are the ones with the power.  If you don’t play the game by the rules its your loss, not theirs.  It’s what’s called a ‘buyers market’.  So, play the game, even if you think the game's a bogey.

 

If you want to substantially reduce your chances of getting published, here’s what to do.  The next time you receive a rejection slip, write to the editor in question and let them know that their decision is wrong, that your poem is a work of genius and the editor is a fool.  If you want to absolutely guarantee that this editor will never publish you, be as abusive as possible, perhaps even threaten physical violence.  That should do the trick.  Seriously though, don’t do it.  No matter how angry or frustrated these rejection slips get you, bite your tongue, count to ten, go and make yourself a nice cup of tea.   Don’t noise up editors.  It isn’t polite and it won’t do you any good.  Common sense, you might think, but there isn’t an editor in the game that hasn’t received abusive responses to their polite rejection slips. 

 

Editors are mostly nice, well-meaning people.  They work their knuckles to the bone and earn nothing for all their efforts, many of them even subsidise their magazines from their own pockets, and they get sweet FA in the way of thanks for all their hard work.  Why do they do it?  Well, the answer is love, which is a good enough reason to do anything.  So please, respect the editor!

 

Before I sign off, a word of warning, beware of Vanity Publishing.  There are unscrupulous people out there who will happily fleece you as you set off on your quest for literary fame and fortune.  They will use every device possible to reel you in and part you from your money.  Do NOT be fooled by their flatteries.   A rule of thumb is that legitimate magazines pay you for publishing your work, not the other way round.  You will get paid, at least, a contributor's copy, and sometimes even a bit of cash thrown in on top.  If they ask you to pay then they are taking the piss.  Or, even more deviously, they won't insist on any payment (so you don't think they are vanity publishers), but if you want a copy of the book your poem is published in you will have to pay for it, and often a ridiculously over-inflated price.  People who fall for this trick often report that these books are shoddily produced and they are crammed to the rafters with seriously dreadful poetry.  Also, be very aware that these free poetry competitions, often advertised in the national press, are also a front for Vanity Publishers.  If you enter one of these competitions, do not be surprised if you receive notice that you have reached the semi-finals and selected for inclusion in an anthology, again, which you will have to pay for.  You may even be offered certificates and trophies, again at a price.  In general, the rule of thumb is this: if they are asking for money have nothing to do with them.  A very useful and informative site that deals with the practice of vanity publishing is at http://www.vanitypublishing.info/.  It is definitely worth checking out.

 

As far as I'm aware, every magazine listed in The AA Independent Press Guide is a legitimate operator.  Almost all of them will pay you in contributors' copies and/or cash for publishing your work.  There are some that don't pay at all, and may even only accept work from subscribers.  There's a subtle difference between these magazines and vanity publishers, but it's a thin line - and I personally find their practices questionable - but the difference is that these magazines don't charge the earth and they don't try to sucker you in with flattery.  I'd still advise you to avoid such magazines, as it is common courtesy to pay contributors at least one complimentary copy of the issue they are published in. 

 

My aim with The AA Independent Press Guide is to provide you with a useful and accurate resource.  However, it is impossible for me to guarantee that the information in this guide is 100% up to date.  Magazines come and go with sadly inevitable frequency.  They can also change personnel and contact details.  Whilst I do my best to keep on top of this I just don't have enough spare time or enough money to stay in constant touch with every magazine listed in this guide.  I rely on magazine editors getting in touch with me to let me know about changes, but very often they just don't.  They've usually got other things on their minds.  So, this is where you can help.  If you hear of a magazine folding or changing contact details, please do email me and let me know (you'll find my current contact information here).  Also, should the worst happen and you find that a magazine or publisher listed in The AA Independent Press Guide tries to shaft you, let me know.

 

Finally, as you know, The AA Independent Press Guide is a completely free, online resource.  I put a lot of time and energy into producing it, which I am happy to do, because I am a bit of a hippie idealist and I believe in trying to help other people.  When I was starting out in this game I received a lot of help and advice from more established writers and artists for which I am eternally grateful.  So this guide is my way of paying back (or rather, I should say 'forwards').  I offer you this guide as a labour of love.  That said, there are a lot of costs involved with the production of this guide, so if you find it useful, you may want to make a donation towards its upkeep.  Even a donation of a few pounds/ dollars/ euros will help.  So, if you feel you have benefited from this guide, please do consider making a contribution towards its continued upkeep.  You'll find details on how to make a donation here.

 

I hope you find this advice useful.  Follow it, and I guarantee you, you will save yourself a lot of time and a heap of cash.  Good luck on the long, slow, winding path to literary success.

 

All the best

 

Dee Rimbaud

 

 

 

 

 

Now, here are a few points of view from some writers, publishers and magazine editors, which you might want to consider....

 

 

Don't consider this advice, or anyone's, as gospel. Just consider it. Don't blindly follow, or naively believe everything an editor, agent, or writer who has it made, tells you....  

Don't hibernate. No one ever makes it alone. ..Networking is necessary to progress in any field. Every step up (acceptance) results from the decision or action of somebody else.... 

Don't brood over rejections. A rejection letter is simply a no-sale; it is not a writing report card. Negative responses sometimes result from whims, idiosyncrasies, and circumstance...

Don't assume that breaking into print is your greatest challenge. Acceptance isn't always easier thereafter--every sale involves luck and circumstance, as well as expertise.... 

Don't be afraid to be a genius. For you are a potential genius. As are each of us--when our fire is lighted--and we dare to stride out in fields without a footprint, creating new paths...

Delma Luben

Author of " The Writing World, Living The Literary Life".

Website: www.authorsden.com/luben

 

 

Some writers put enough sellotape around their envelope to protect a Mona Lisa - and I'm not smiling by the time I get inside!  Their work is likely to be torn or dog-eared before I see it.  If you live in Ireland, please specify north or south, it affects postage and I would sooner pick up a dictionary than an Atlas.  IRCs hear hear!  If you absolutely must have a reply from abroad, enclosing your email address could save you a lot of money.  I'm not picking up the phone to the States if there's insufficient IRCs.  Having spent time reading a poetry collection and writing a review suited to my readers, the poet sent a very snotty, personal and ill-informed reply.  Needless to say, I won't bother to review the poet in future. Poets often write on postcards, with enough words to fill an A4 sheet.  Needless to say, the postman obligingly stamps over half the scribble, which saves me the job of reading it! Poets frequently pity the Post Office so much, they stick 3 or 4 stamps on an envelope, when a simple pair of kitchen scales would help them to estimate under 60 grams.  If they must send so many stamps - thank you, but don't stick them on the envelope.  Some poets obviously steam off stamps before sending their work and reusing the stamp - sadly the postman's eyesight is better than theirs; they can see the franking marks and will charge over £1 for loss of earnings!

Wendy Webb

Tips for Writers, UK.

Website: www.wendywebb.mysite.orange.co.uk

 

 

I've just had a browse through your tips for writers and it looks pretty comprehensive to me. I'd second all the thoughts about clearly set out on decent paper and spelled properly! (Do you mention email? I get a lot of stuff submitted that way which is fine by me particularly if I'm going to use it cos I can just paste it in, as long as it's in the body of the email or on an attachment I can open!)  Being a mag. about oral storytelling I don't get too many unsuitable submissions because I've learned to describe it as such and most people do find out what we're all about before sending stuff but there is a trickle of people - mainly from USA for some reason! who insist on sending their very formulaic detective stories or sometimes really sloppy love poems which have no relevance at all. I always reply and explain that they are not what we are about but a couple of them have continued to send inappropriate stuff so I just bin it.

Pete Castle

Facts & Fiction, UK.

Website: www.factsandfiction.co.uk

 

 

I don’t think my anecdotes are particularly funny, but we get all the usual mistakes – submissions that virtually need origami experts to get them into tiny envelopes, no return postage, 20 poems when we ask for six, Epic poems when we only publish up to 40 lines… We get vast amounts of doggerel from people who’ve never read poetry – perhaps that’s something worth adding – if people don’t read poetry how can they expect to write something that others will want to read? One of the classics that jumps to mind is a poem that began ‘don’t be a rebel/ sit on a pebble’ and got worse from there L I recently had something from someone who said he didn’t have an address to give me – very sad, but hard to engage with. We do accept electronic submissions – it’s quick and easy and much cheaper for people, but we don’t accept attachments – none the less we get streams of them.

Jan Fortune-Wood

Coffee House Poetry, UK

Website: www.coffeehousepoetry.co.uk

 

 

Some advice for novice writers?  First off, they should get Poet's Market and submit to the better-than-average percent of acceptances (50% or better).  These are usually markets that will accept poems from beginner poets (although better-known poets sometimes get published here too, which is always nice -- being published along with a "name" poet).  Here, at The Poet's Art, I try to accept one thing from each contributor, but poets need to realize this is not the common thing, although some publications tend to favor the beginning poet.  Last of all, poets can't let rejection stop them, especially if they have never been published before.  I can't tell you how many places I was rejected in before receiving that first-cherished acceptance letter and then the journal it was in!  Oh, and did I forget to mention that beginning poets that it is very hard (if not impossible) to make a career as a poet.  I have had to pay more money than I've received (the highest being $5 from one publication).  I wouldn't pay a penny more than that.  Any publication that asks you to do this, isn't worth being published in!

David Fox

The Poet's Art, USA.

Website: http://www.freewebs.com/thepoetsart 

 

 

I've had a quick read of Tips and it makes sense to me. I very much agree that poets should buy/subscribe to the magazines that they like, and I'd emphasise the idea of the poet building a kind of mutual-respect relationship with an editor over the years and, hopefully, with the other contributors to magazines they are published in - that for many editors it's not about getting published in a way, but about building an artistic community around the magazine (which will often have associated readings and pamphlets or books - again these are something that should be participated in, in good faith, by a poet who really admires/enjoys the work published there). IRCs.  I have yet to be sent a single submission by an American who has enclosed enough IRCs to cover return postage: my advice to American poets is, if in doubt, add a further IRC to cover.

Richard Price

Painted Spoken, UK

Website: www.hydrohotel.net

 

 

I reckon IRCs are pretty redundant now, most POs don't touch them. I've never ever been asked for First Serial Rights.  They just don't exist.  Its' bollocks made up by stupid editors; and in line with that, I would suggest writers never give their copyright or rights away. As Robert Fripp says about music publishing, its an outdated and indefensible practice, especially in a poetry world where no-one ever gets paid anyway...

Rupert M. Loydell

Stride Publication, UK

Website: www.stridebooks.co.uk

 

 

Submissions that annoy me: Whole MS received from unknown persons, often 500 pages, with no return postage. Poems submitted which are of completely the wrong genre for the magazine e.g., I specifically state I do not wish to receive poems about cute cuddly kittens, and then receive poems about cute cuddly kittens. Poems that have been rejected by numerous publishers and are sent to me as multi creased, hardly legible, tea or beer stained chip wrappers. Poems where no effort has been made to check spelling or punctuation and the dreaded 'i' is used instead of 'I.'  These hit my bin faster than a speeding bullet. No return postage = no return. E-mail submissions should consist of no more than 6 poems, and not as file attachments; file attachments will not be read through fear of computer virus proliferation. I also have a 'blind spot' for over blown statements; recently received an accompanying letter which said the poet had been described as "equivalent to Byron, but you judge . . ." I did, he wasn't. Don't bombard: if you've had two or three submissions rejected by the same publisher there is little point in sending further poems to this point of contact, (it would appear your genre of poems are unsuitable for the magazine in question, but may be eminently suitable for another magazine).  Do your research. Swear words, sensational tactics, fancy fonts and 'arty' borders - forget it.

David Pike

Pulsar Poetry, UK

www.pulsarpoetry.com

 

 

Submissions that irritate: Letters and envelopes decorated with New Age stars and glitter; letters that state the sender has umpty-tumpty years experience as a professional writer and then includes a typescript that has been typed on an old Remington (with half the letters missing) and covered in Tippex; typescripts that fill the entire page with no margin and no double spacing.  Surprise packages: The typescript that looked like it had been soaked in half a pound of lard and the collection of pubic hair!

Suzanne Ruthven

The New Writer, UK.

www.thenewwriter.com

 

 

Your tips for novice writers are excellent - our lives would be easier if people read these before submitting. Top 5 submission blunders from Mslexia:

1. Constant fretting, leading to incessant phonecalls. Harsh but true.

2. Making changes to submissions after submitting and judging. Let it go.

3. Clip art. Say no more.

4. Plastic folders. Save the planet.

5. Tiny return envelopes. Plant a tree.

Lizzie Whyman

MsLexia, UK

www.mslexia.co.uk

 

 

Just a few thought on your tips for writers... Thoroughly comprehensive. Like so many we always receive 20 submissions when we ask for 5, envelopes with no stamps, hand-written scrawls on the back of junk mail, unopenable e-mail attachments, 2000 word biogs, poetry we've already read in another magazine and letters full of those annoying tiny metallic stars which make you wonder if it's worth 'phoning George Dubya and convincing him that Afghanistan is spelled Altrincham and can he start at Number 37 Chapel St where there's someone with a Pritt Stick and a bag of glitter who's threatening world peace. We once received a rather nasty threatening letter from a well-respected Geordie poet which made us look over our shoulders for a while, until we realised that it was actually a submission. Editing can be so much fun. If only they'd just read the bloody guidelines...

Paul Neads

Mucusart Publications, UK.

www.mucusart.co.uk

 

 

Despite everything, it is a great pleasure to edit a poetry magazine.  Opening the post in the morning is often a joy.  Really! But, I must say, your tips do spell out the downside.  My pet ‘challenges’ come when poets:

1. Send no sae

2. Submit pages of autobiography

3. Use stationery from work

4. Omit a name at the bottom of each poem

5. Make out the subscription cheque wrongly

6. Use a nom de plume.  I know this seems harsh, but it does play havoc with the administration.

7. Use fancy fonts

8. Submit a poem, and then, two days later, write in with amendments

9. Send no name, no covering letter, just a jumble of poems shoved in a tiny envelope.

10. Write an abusive reply to my helpful comments asking what right I have to criticise their work.

But, my heart sinks when somebody writes ‘my poems come from the heart’.

Jean Tarry

Never Bury Poetry, UK.

http://www.nbpoetry.care4free.net/ 

 

 

Thanks for the invite - to submit anecdotes re submissions - but those I reject I very quickly put out of my mind. I do try to give reasons for any rejection, especially if I think I espy a particular fault in a poem, and those reasons have occasionally led to outraged and outrageous reponses from their authors. Who are quite often American academics, and who seem to think their work beyond question. Especially by an uneducated ignoramus such as I. The result of such responses is that for a while after I confine myself to formletter rejections, which is probably of no help to anyone.

Sam Smith

The Journal, UK

http://members.aol.com/smithsssj/index.html  

 

 

I've just read your tips for writers - excellent. Now it looks as if I'll have to start all over again! My method of acquiring publication was to enter the office of the editor with a petrol can and threaten to pour the fluid over my head and ignite it unless he published my effusion on whatever it was that was on my mind. Although I did not manage to secure publication, I did acquire a rather scorched-looking, mottled scalp which was better than nothing, I suppose.

Paul Newman

Abraxas, UK

Website: http://abrax7.stormloader.com 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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