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Posts Tagged ‘poetry submissions’

Submission Guidelines

Posted by Scott Holstad on July 26, 2015

Why don’t so many people read or adhere to magazine submission guidelines? This is the eternal mystery for me. As a magazine poetry editor, I have published a set of submission guidelines that I expect people to follow when submitting. I don’t think it’s too much to ask. When you’re a writer submitting to a magazine, presumably you’re putting yourself and your work out there as a professional to be taken seriously, not as a schmuck. You don’t submit whatever you want however you want. Every publication has guidelines. One of the first things you learn when writing and beginning publishing is to read and follow guidelines. It’s just common sense. One of the easiest ways to make sure your work doesn’t get read is to not go by the guidelines. One of the easiest ways to make sure your work does get read is to follow the guidelines. Simple.

Editors set up guidelines to streamline things and make their jobs a little easier. They get deluged with submissions. Sometimes it’s simply overwhelming. If everyone submitting can stick to the same format, it really helps. But if people are submitting all sorts of ways, it can really throw you off. It also helps to level the playing field. If everyone follows the same guidelines, presumably there won’t be anyone getting preferential treatment. That’s not always the case, but it helps.

My guidelines are a little strict, but certainly not as bad as many magazines I’ve submitted to over the years. More lenient than many even. And my response time is better than average. One of the things that has mystified me, however, is how many poetry submissions our nonfiction editor gets. I mean, what the hell? Why? Our fiction editor never gets any. I, as the poetry editor, get a ton. But our nonfiction editor gets quite a few and forwards them to me. And you know what? They ALWAYS suck! Always. They’re horrible. It’s like sixth grade poetry. And they obviously haven’t read the guidelines, which state to email the poetry submissions to the poetry editor, giving my email address. So, they’re not to be taken seriously, since they don’t take their own submission seriously. And I’ve taken to trashing them. I used to read over them and consider them. And respond. But at the beginning of the year, I grew tired of the idiocy and posted a post on the website telling people this practice will no longer be tolerated and any poetry submission sent to the wrong editor will simply be deleted unread. And still they come in. Dolts! What the hell are they thinking? Who emails poetry submissions to nonfiction editors? I would never think of doing that. That’s just damned stupid. In fact, when I was heavily submitting, I tried hard to find out the name of the poetry editor and mailed my submission to him or her by name. The pros who send me submissions read over our masthead on the website and often do that to me. You can tell who the pros are by their submissions. There’s a reason why they have the good credits. They write better poems and they follow submission guidelines. Simple.

If any of my readers can shed some light on why anyone would submit their poetry submissions to the nonfiction editor, I’d love to hear it. Thanks.

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Magazine Submission Rules

Posted by Scott Holstad on November 27, 2013

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.

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What a Writer Shouldn’t Do

Posted by Scott Holstad on July 13, 2013

I get a steady number of submissions in my job as poetry editor for Ray’s Road Review, and I’m glad. It makes life interesting. (I just wish more of them were of higher quality, but oh well….) Most people follow the posted submission guidelines, but every now and then you get a submission from some idiot who didn’t bother reading them before sending their work off to you. I always ask myself why these people do this. When you are sending your work, whether it’s poetry, fiction, nonfiction, literary criticism, photography, etc., you’re presenting yourself as a professional and professionals should take their work seriously and take the publishers they send their work to seriously. Otherwise, you’ll come off looking like an amateur. And that would be stupid. So don’t send submissions to publishers without first reading their submission guidelines. I know that sounds pretty simplistic, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t bother, and it’s obvious in their submission.

A few days ago, I got a submission from some a**hole who sent me a 400 page poetry manuscript made up of rhyming poems. Excuse me? I sent back a terse reply where I copied and pasted our guidelines into the email message. Poets are invited to send 2 to 6 poems per submission — not 400 pages. No editor is going to wade through 400 pages of poems looking for that “gem” that they’ll be delighted to publish. Not going to happen. I also don’t take rhyming poems. Personal thing, I know, but most places don’t take rhyming poetry, and there’s a reason. No one talks like that anymore. And few professional writers write like that anymore. Contemporary rhyming poems read and sound like limericks and can’t be taken seriously, with few exceptions. When you submit a rhyming poem to a magazine, unless they advertise that they take rhyming poetry, you’re basically advertising your ignorance of the craft, of contemporary standards, both in writing and in publishing. You’re really hurting yourself when you do this. I don’t take rhyming poems. I don’t want the magazine to sound stupid. And this was 400 pages of rhyming poems. Excuse me??? I bolded these two guidelines in the email I sent back to this person. I hope they never waste my time again. But I keep asking, what was this person thinking? Why is he so dumb? Does he not take himself seriously, because he sure didn’t take our magazine seriously. A**hole.

When you submit your work, read the submission guidelines. And if possible, read some of the stuff they publish first to get a feel for whether or not your material might fit in with what they publish or not. It’s much easier now with online magazines. Back when you had to buy hard copy magazines, that got to be pretty costly. Now there’s no excuse. I’m honestly open to just about any subject matter, and most any style. Just make it good. I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I see a LOT of poems, most of which suck, some of which are average, a few of which are good, and rarely, a couple of which are very good. Those are the ones I keep looking for. I have a form rejection email draft I send and I try to be encouraging in it, telling the poet that everyone gets rejected and you just have to keep writing and submitting, which is true. Sometimes I get determined poets who want to get published by RRR, and they never seem to get the hint that their stuff isn’t very good. I mean, how many rejections does it take? I’ve rejected people who’ve had poems published in hundreds of magazines and accepted poems by people who weren’t published. I’ve also published poets who’ve had stuff in Poetry and other top notch magazines, so I’m open to anyone — as long as the quality is good. I just don’t understand why certain people won’t go by standard submission guidelines. That should be common sense for any good writer. So please don’t submit your work to publishers without first reading their guidelines. You could be saving everyone from a giant waste of time if you do.

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New Issue of Ray’s Road Review is Out!

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 21, 2013

The new Summer 2013 of Ray’s Road Review is out today! Read poetry by BZ Niditch, William L. Alton, Robert Joe Stout, Paul Brucker, and Lyn Lifshin. There’s also a book review on a book of poetry by Mark Jackley. Don’t forget about the fiction and nonfiction too. Read and submit. Thanks!

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New Issue of Ray’s Road Review Is Out!

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 20, 2013

The new Spring 2013 issue of Ray’s Road Review is out today! If you want to read some good poetry, go to http://raysroadreview.com/ and check out Marina Rubin, Erren Kelly, Simon Perchik, William Wright Harris, Ted Jonathan, and Lyn Lifshin. Good stuff! Read and submit.

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New Issue of Ray’s Road Review Is Out!

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 21, 2012

The new Winter 2013 issue of Ray’s Road Review is out! We’ve got some great fiction, nonfiction & poetry, as well as photography. Please check it out at http://raysroadreview.com. The new poets (since I’m the poetry editor) include Mark Jackley, Ivan Jenson, Jnana Hodson, Robert Demaree, BZ Niditch & Holly Day. Please read & submit!

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