9.09.2005

This type of statement is, in fact, on most eZine sites somewhere, and in most print journals, and even in places like the POETS *MARKET* and WRITERS MARKET. If I have time after repairing a wall, I will comment about the idea of submissions as marketing.

There are several reasons, aside from writers early in the submitting writing process not buying a copy, that these statements don't work. One is that beginning editors rarely can tell you what they want to or will publish -- they are waiting for it to flow over the transom -- and so their journals are hardly models of consistency. Another is that many of these statements include long lists of poets who are read and understood very different ways, or mention vague things like "quality" and that old Emily Dickinson saw about the top of her head.

With the short life of most journals, it means that most editors are beginning editors or that the consistent, long-established journal is no longer taking submissions not from friends or former contributors, or that it will accept now for publication in three years.

There is a reason Lyn Lifshin and Janet I. Buck have published so many poems.

The other is, of course, it is hard to tell coterie publishing when you see it, or when you see it it is not possible to know if it is a club that will have you or not until you send a submission. In general, it can be more informative to see who is published rather than what, or to read what never forgetting who. A lot of time this gets shuffled under "silly star system MFA verse approach" but there is more to it than that. For example, American writing and certainly publication distribution is still regional, and although the MFA explosion and creation of non-overlapping poetry "scenes" has countered that, it often hasn't done it in work-centered ways.

Paradoxically while many writers new to submitting claim to want comments on their work, many want a more distant relationship with editors, or want to be published in "big markets" and thus gravitate towards editors who don't know whether they read a copy standing at a newsstand, in the library, or surfing excerpts online, or have purchased a copy or subscribed.

It is hard to reverse engineer some sort of editorial policy or poetic from the majority of journals. And why should poets be in the line of trying to mind read or psych out editors? How often does every printed work jibe with an editorial statement? How often does my favorite poem in an issue of a journal share something in common with my submission, in my view, and not in the editors' views? How often does the Pushcart Prize anthology, supposedly the editors' favorite works, represent the most interesting work published that year?

Reading and writing are separate skills.

It is mostly easier to just send the submission after checking out the journal and the editors and see if anybody likes it. Submitting nationally costs about a dollar. One in twenty will like it, and twenty journals cost about $200.

Repair of wall: about $50 plus my labor for the concrete blocks, mortar, stucco, and paint.

mIEKAL aND wrote:

> I really appreciate this statement on the WRITERS FORUM site. I'd like to see these thought be more wide spread. I can't imagine how many submissions I've received over the last 25 years where the person submitting didn't have a clue:
>
> "We strongly recommend that you familiarise yourself with the kind of work published by a press, any press, large or small, commercial or not, before you submit work to it. That is, buy their publications. (Use the money you are going to save on postage by not wasting submissions.) You will almost certainly discover some new work which interests and perhaps pleases you; and you will have provided the press with new customers, and its authors with new readers."
>
> http://pages.britishlibrary.net/writersforum

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