Magazine Submission Rules

I’m the poetry editor for Ray’s Road Review and I’ve been a professional poet for about 25 years. Over time, you learn — or should learn — various magazine submission rules, but lately some of the people submitting to RRR have been so boneheaded, I thought I’d mention a few here.

First, read the submission guidelines. They’re there for a reason. If a magazine doesn’t take simultaneous submissions, don’t send them any. You’ll get blacklisted if you get something accepted elsewhere and have to pull your submission or worse yet, if it gets published in multiple magazines. How hard is it to read the guidelines? Apparently, if you go by RRR’s submissions, it can often be pretty hard.

Second, don’t send a book manuscript for the editor to page through, pulling pieces out to gloriously publish them, thanking you the whole time. I had someone do that to me this week. They sent me their book manuscript and expected me to read it — when I have dozens of submissions to read — and choose something. I deleted it. It’s just rude. We accept a maximum of six poems, as stated in the guidelines. Why do you think your book is so damn good that it’s above the rules, that an editor is going to take their precious time to read it and choose something? Cause it ain’t gonna happen!

Third, if you’re sending out simultaneous submissions, don’t include the email addresses of all the magazines you’re submitting to in the To email line. An amateur does that. I got a submission this week which was submitted to 22 magazines, probably arbitrarily, and I got to see each and every magazine this person sent their submission to. Delete. I promise none of these magazines will publish him. It’s just rude. Don’t be a moron.

Fourth, if you get rejected, don’t email the editor and berate them. That will get your nowhere. I had a person email me yesterday wanting to know what the hell was wrong with his poems and that he wanted to resubmit. Well, the poems sucked — not one came close — and sure, resubmit, but I’ll remember you and the submission better be damn good. I normally read submissions two to three times, sometimes four, but this person will get one read. And look  — everyone gets rejected when submitting, even the best writers. It happens to everybody. Don’t take it so personally. Find another market to submit to and keep honing your craft.

Fifth, going back to guidelines, if a magazine wants rhyming poems, send them rhyming poems. If they don’t want them, don’t send them any. It helps to read several issues and see what and who they like to publish. If your stuff is similar, there’s a decent chance you might have something accepted. If you’re a nature poem writer submitting to a gritty underground zine, you might want to rethink your strategy.

I guess that’s it for today. Submit your work, yes, but do so intelligently.