Dear people who cross the digital expanse and pray their submitted work gets in,
You are the champions of the literary world. If you do not view yourself as “equal to” or “greater” than the literary magazines you support, then you are looking at this culture all wrong. What is a magazine without its submitters? What does it really mean to submit?
Let’s look at the definitions of “submitting” for a moment:
v. sub·mit·ted, sub·mit·ting, sub·mits
1. To yield or surrender (oneself) to the will or authority of another.
2. To subject to a condition or process.
3. To commit (something) to the consideration or judgment of another.
4. To offer as a proposition or contention: I submit that the terms are entirely unreasonable.
(Courtesy of http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Submitters)
If applied to writers, the first definition imagines the submitter as a small kingdom who yields to an empire greater than itself. So, by this definition, writers are lesser than and must abandon themselves and their values for what they perceive as the greater good. Of course, by obeying the empire, these writers can bring glory and fame to their name.
That’s a disgusting perspective to have, but we’ll continue.
The second definition is more appropriate, though it seems to waylay the emotional ability writers have and need to submit their work. It is not just a “condition” or “process.” This definition forgets that it’s a love for the work. It’s a respect for the work. Therefore, it’s a love, respect, and need for the writer.
As the fourth definition doesn’t seem truly applicable, the third definition ascends to be our best bet. Writers committing (prose or poetry or artwork or photography) to the consideration or judgment of a magazine. Consideration seems to have a more positive connotation than judgment. Yet, while this is the most salient definition of “submitting” for the writer to bear in mind, the question for all writers to consider is “Does this magazine have the authority to judge my work?”
I will be the first to say that literary magazines do not and should not carry the pomp they brag of. The word “magazine” comes from the French word magasin, which translates to “storehouse.” Does the word translate to “publication that reaps the benefits of its contributors and is more important than them”? No.
Moreover, a storehouse must be filled with goods to function. Without the goods, there would be no storehouse. However, without a storehouse, the goods cannot be distributed. Nonetheless, I believe the ones who share their goods with the world are the better people at the end of the day.
Do I contradict myself by posting a shameless advertisement of Yorick as the picture in this post? No. It’s my job to shamelessly advertise my magazine. It’s a storehouse for crying out loud. How else are Greek citizens going to know to come here for their oil and fleece skeins?
I’ve talked with several individuals in the immediate literary community who are committed to caring for submitters. Jeremiah Walton, of Nostrovia fame, is continuously working to create projects like The Traveling Poet so that writers have more opportunities to be heard. Brittany Wright and Richard Barnhardt at The Gap-Toothed Madness have created a newsletter for their submitters and contributors detailing new ways to submit work. It’s magazines like these that appreciate the writer.
So, submitters: you are not the worthless creatures you believe yourselves to be. You are not the mercenaries who struggle to make a living by providing service to an emperor. You are the artifacts that the acolytes struggle to collect. Some artifacts are undiscovered, some are found and made public.
Whether admitting it or not, the acolyte, a wretch in torn cloth, dreams only of finding the best.
By Sam Levenberg, Staff Writer
Hello again out there!
First of all, thanks to everyone who submitted to the Summer 2013 issue of Yorick! Alex and Lauren sent responses to all who submitted, so check your emails if you sent in work. Expect the full issue to be produced by mid-August. Contributors’ copies will be sent out in the coming months.
So in the past I’ve talked about my favorite literary magazines and the pleasure I find in my own and others’ poetry. What ties magazine love and poetry love together, though, is that both exist because people write poetry (including, I hope, some of you!). So, anticipating that someday I’ll read in some literary magazine a cornucopia of good poetry that brings me delight—some such that will be written by you, members of the blogosphere—I have three suggestions on going about submitting and possibly having your poetry accepted.
1) Know what kind of poetry you write. I think this is the most important part of submitting your poetry, because every magazine is looking for something different. If you write humorous, nonsensical poems and submit them to a magazine that’s looking for deep, emotionally heart-wrenching poems, you’re going to get rejected. So know what kind of poetry you write, and then try to find magazines that publish those kinds of poems. It’ll greatly enhance your chances of getting them published.
2) If what you’re looking at is a smaller, less well known magazine—like 32 Poems, vox poetica, or Circus Book—then your best bet is to go online and find out when their deadlines are and then directly email the editor. Many times these editors don’t get a whole truckload of submissions, at least compared to bigger magazines like Paris Review, so hearing from someone who is looking to get their poetry out and about is a joy for them. I’ve had two or three email conversations with editors of small magazines, and one thing they always mention is that they love hearing from new poets and reading their poems; they never know what to expect and are often amazed by what they read. So, in short, take initiative and don’t be scared to email an editor.
3) Compared to smaller literary magazines, hulking magazines like the Paris Review and The New Yorker receive thousands of submissions by their respective deadlines. So, emailing an editor of a magazine like that is impractical because it’s unlikely they’ll get back to you. However, there are online databases for writers that can greatly help you in your submissions to these magazines. One of the most well known is called Duotrope, which not only lists a large number of magazines both big and small, but also provides statistics on how likely it is that anything you submit will be accepted and how long it can take for different magazines to respond to your submission. For up-and-coming writers, as well as those who are more experienced, websites like Duotrope can be a great help for finding the magazine that’s right for you. In sum, utilize online resources to their fullest extent.
That’s all I have for now. Hopefully what I’ve give is useful to those of you who are looking to expand your poetry throughout the wide, wide world.
So long, and thanks for all the fish,