I am so glad you asked about this, as I’m thinking of writing about it, and adding some links to my website.
I increasingly don’t believe in book contests. I submit directly to publishers. More publishers than you may think read “over the transom”, and not all of them are academic publishers: Greywolf, Michigan State University Press, Kent State, Dalkey Archive, Coffee House Press, New Directions, Wesleyan, Eastern Washington UP, Ahsahta, etc. Then there are those who have reading periods, some with small fees (about half of “contest entry”), some without: futurepoem, Krupskaya, Kelsey Street, Carnegie Mellon, University of Illinois Press, University of Georgia Press.
Beyond that, it is possible to query publishers.
What you have done is 1) what I recommend, 2) the way it should be. You have shown potential publishers for subsequent books (and the poems in this book and the next) that you have identified an audience for your poetry. This is the time to say to the premium journals, “these poems will be included in my book…” or “these poems represent a significant development from those in my book…” blah blah.
Wait until you get a firm commitment and a contract, then by all means withdraw it from the contests. There are *plenty* of second book contests (University of Notre Dame/Sandeen, Green Rose, University of Wisconsin, and, of course, the National Poetry Series), but also – every time you have some contact with editors and readers, they are more likely to remember you and your name.
From: Member1700@aol.com [mailto:Member1700@aol.com]
Sent: Saturday, August 23, 2003 11:17 PM
Subject: Re: Looking for some advice . . .
I wonder if you can give me some advice. I have entered my book ms. in several contests over the summer. Haven't heard back from any of them yet.
But, I did send the thing to one book publisher, White Cloud Press--which hasn't done much poetry ( www.whitecloudpress.com ) but which is a legitimate publisher. And they gave it to their poetry editor, who is now showing a lot of interest in publishing the thing.