Here I am, week two of the semester, papers to grade already, a house that needs to be finished so that it can go on the market, cats to play with, sewing to do, books to read (I just picked up Breaking Dawn at the library – woo hoo!), and writing to send out. So I find myself with the age-old, at least for me, quandary of how to select, create, and manage literary journal submissions without losing my mind.
I only recently started doing simultaneous submissions at the express urging of my friend Josiah Bancroft, a very good poet, who thought it absurd that I just sent something out one place at a time. And he was right; as soon as I started submitting simultaneously, I started to get much faster responses, mostly rejections, but at least they were fast rejections. So I’m on that path now.
Josiah also gave me a great spreadsheet to use to track my submissions, and so far it’s working great – when I remember to update it fully. I still have a file box full of 3 x 5 cards, using the system that my poetry teacher Julia Kasdorf taught me. That system works very well for individual submissions, but not when I’m sending the same piece to a bunch of places. For that, the spreadsheet is much more efficient. Also, on Josiah’s spreadsheet he makes these really funny comments about the kind of rejection or acceptance he received. I’ve followed that tradition and now write things like “wow, I’m so unimportant that they rejected me on a 16th of a piece of paper . . . don’t I feel loved.” It’s cathartic. I recommend it.
But before I can enter things into that spreadsheet, I have to find where to submit my work, and this, this is the most time-consuming (and fun and frustrating) part of the process. I usually prowl through Poets and Writers list of journals, and I google around a bit looking for things that might fit my work. If I was the most careful of submitters, I would also read sample issues (and I do read what I can find – usually online), but I simply can’t afford to buy sample issues all the time; those $5 and $8 copies add up quickly. So the Internet is my best friend in regards to finding submissions. So far, I’ve found some good stuff, and I hope to keep discovering new journals.
So how about you? How do you keep track of your submissions (if you’re writing, then you’re submitting, right?)? How do you find where you want to submit? Do you have any great stories to tell about rejection letters or any glorious hand-written notes that you’ve pasted to your bulletin board as flecks of inspiration? What is this process like for you? Share your thoughts in comments, or post about it on your own blog and link back. I’d love to see if we can help one another, or at least make one another laugh through this process.