So the festive period is over and it’s back to normal, which for me at least means back to contemplating the black hole that is the place my poems seem to go when I send them off to prospective publishers. It seems that, no matter how carefully you research your market, the rejection rate can be alarmingly high. So much so that I sometimes feel as if I’m sending out not poems but scraps of old wallpaper, in the hope that the recipient will have a damp patch on their wall the exact same size and shape as my scrap, in the exact same pattern.
But here’s the thing: the black hole is changing. In the last three weeks, four different magazines and journals have said ‘yes’ to eight of my poems. Two of them, the Foxglove Journal and Spilling Cocoa over Martin Amis, are UK based; the others are American and Mauritian. I was of course delighted with this result.
Now I must confess, I do have a tendency to embellish or exaggerate stories. It’s not as if I could wallpaper my study with rejection slips. In fact, I’ve hardly submitted any work! My rejection rate is actually pretty low (so far). So why go on about rejection? Well because you can so easily bring it upon yourself. Maybe the poems that were accepted were just what these publishers were looking for when I sent them but I also read their submission guidelines extremely carefully and followed them to the letter, which can only have helped my case. I also made a point of finding out each editor’s name and addressing my submission directly to him or her, never just to Dear Editor.
So where to now? I recently subscribed to Duotrope (www.duotrope.com) , which helps me find potential markets as well as track my submissions. As most publishers refuse simultaneous submissions, it is essential to keep track of what you’ve sent where, and when. The site allows me to update progress so when work is rejected, I know it is available to resubmit elsewhere. For $5 a month, it seems to be good value so far. Perhaps it will help me see just a little more clearly into that black hole…