What do you think about when you see a stack of books? In this short collection of stories you will also learn what a creative director thinks of when he sees a stack of books. Who is the audience for your poems? Is possible to write in your sleep, or not?
So, you write poems. Maybe you read your poems at a local bookstore, music venue or coffeeshop at a monthly or weekly open mic. And maybe you even sign up for a writing workshop and the teacher hosts a public reading at a fine art center or library at the conclusion of the course. But do you submit your poetry for publication?
Last month I submitted over 50 poems for publication. So far I’ve receive quite a few reject letters. Some replies were so quick I wonder if the editor read the submission. A week after I submitted poems to one editor I received this:
“I enjoyed reading your poems but I’m unable to use them…”
A day later I received this from a different editor:
“Thank you for your recent submission…. This group of poems wasn’t right for us, but we’re grateful for the opportunity to consider your work…”
These replies are courteous, non-confrontational and sterile. Last weekend I received my favorite rejection letter so far. It reads,
“We sincerely appreciate your interest … and are very glad you are getting your pieces published…. we wish you the best of luck in your continued writing. Never give up on what your high school literature teacher told you!”
Why do I like that rejection letter? Here’s three reasons:
The editor actually read the cover letter. Not just the first few lines of the cover letter, but all the way to the third paragraph. You see, buried in the third paragraph of my cover letter is an homage to an inspirational high school literature teacher.
Clearly it is not an automated reply to a submission for publication.
The way the letter is crafted is a sandwich. By that I mean, the letter opens positively, nicely rejects the submission with two reasons and concludes with a personal and positive note.
Literary journal editors should take note of this rejection letter. It is a good model to follow.
If you submit your poetry for publication, I am interested to learn how it is going for you. If you don’t submit your poems for publication, I’d like to know why.
More than 50 poems were sent to publishers in January. Encouraged by another poet who submits somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 poems a month, I thought it would be a good discipline as well. It’s exhausting as well.
A few years ago, I was encourage not to post my poems on this blog (or Facebook), because a lot of small press publishers consider those poems “published.” So, I’ve been writing offline and sharing the new poems at private salons, a poetry festival and with friends. But I have not pursued publication until this year.
Talking with Al Maginnes after his recent reading at Malaprop’s, he told me how is first poetry submission was accepted immediately. Encouraged by this, he submitted more poetry to publishers. He said it was years before anything else was published.
So far, two publishers replied with rejection notices. That’s alright. I will submit those poems to other publishers.