Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Why Bother Submitting Poetry To Lit Journals?

As a writer of three published books, I have to ask: why submit poetry to lit journals? The Midwest Book Review, Small Press Bookwatch: June 2009, said of my book Circus by Moonlight, it is “a perfect browse for the poetry enthusiast,” and “...establishes Williams as an impressive talent and skilled wordsmith, deserving of as wide and appreciative an audience as possible." But the lit journals seem to have no interest in any of my poetry. When cashing the royalty checks for my two novels, I now have to consider why I would even want to showcase my writing in a forum that concentrates on work that would otherwise not be able to find an audience in mainstream, commercial publishing (we are talking over 600 print and online journals). The rejection letters are short and succinct—No Thanks. As writers know, lit journal editors need never explain their publishing decisions, so I can only speculate as to the degree of arbitrariness that subserves their deliberations. My understanding is that most books of poetry, that originate from the increasing pool of MFA writers and their professor’s, will sell around twenty copies. This is considered a good run. Well, my poetry book is already way past that number in sales. I guess I’ll stick with commercial fiction from now on, and post my poetry online for the world to see and judge for themselves (there are no gate keepers on the web).


Jessica Bell said...

It is very hard, Mark, to get poetry out there. I have no idea what any one is looking for. They say 'read our journal' before submitting to find out what they're after. But it makes no difference. And who wants to publish the same stuff anyway? Should they be saying, 'submit blind. we want a variety and reading our journal will only influence you and stress you out'? that's what I think.

The only places that have accepted my poetry have been less established journals, or ones that are just starting out. I don't understand why. I never will. I just have to keep plugging away to get those credits up!

Tonto Fielding said...

I think the reason they want you to read their journal first, is to "sell" you a copy, that way they will be selling twenty one copies total instead of twenty. Do I sound jaded? P.S.- this is not Tonto. Google will not let me sign out of this Nom de Plume.

Jessica Bell said...

LOL. Gotcha :o)