How to present a killer poetry submission


I’ve learned something today. First of all it was a kickback.I got a rejection slip from a (quite prestigeous ) poetry magazine. I had sent them half a dozen of my finest, more than half expecting to find a home for at least one. But it was not to be. Before I threw the manuscripts into the waste bin, I took one, last, loving look.

Hang on. There was a typo in that one….and there was a dodgy line break in another. In fact, I found silly, careless errors in four out of the six poems I sent.

Proofread ! Proofread ! Proofread !

I corrected all the errors I should have corrected before, and then looked for a possible alternative market. Well…I didn’t actually look for it….I went back to it. Years ago I had a couple of things published by a lovely magazine called Dreamcatcher

See them here:

And I did the poetic equivalent of reading the manual before you press the red button.

I read the submission guidelines.

See them here:

Yup. My stuff fitted the bill. But there was another little link about formatting. I didn’t even know what formatting was …not really. I discovered it was all the little blue marks which appear when you click the ” Show Invisibles” button.

That little link is here:

Formatting is what editors have to do, if you haven’t already done it. If you send them a piece that has been properly proofread and formatted— don’t you think they might be a bit more sympathetic to your piece. I know I would be.

Format ! Format ! Format !

Now maybe I’m the stupid one at the back of the class who’s the last one to cotton to the flaming obvious, but if you really believe in the stuff you write, isn’t it worth spending some time polishing it up, making life easier for the editor ?

Comments, as ever, are always welcome.

Ah! Almost forgot. I am trying to re-invigorate my career as a voice artist. Have a look at my revamped ” About”


8 thoughts on “How to present a killer poetry submission

  1. I’ve given up sending things out. Most places won’t take pieces that have been posted which ties up work you would like to show. The down time is 4-6 months at best, though some have been better. And mostly what is being published today is ‘Contempoary Poetry” which has as broad a definition as it does have narrow tastes. To tell the truth I receive much satisfaction posting my work and getting reactions. The only thing I send out nowadays is to full collection competitions which run from $1,000–$5,000 and there are many for first, or first and second book submissions. I even found one for poets over 60. At least if they are asking for a full collection it doesn’t matter where it was posted. I’ve resigned myself that my ‘styles’ are not in vogue in which case a collection would work in my favor because of the overall concept. Hell I’ve got six manuscripts, four fully polished, edited , proofread, and ready to go.>KB

  2. I cannot afford an editor. The closest thing that I have are beta-readers, some close friends that will check out a few chapters or a whole story for mistakes. That still doesn’t get rid of all of them. I edit my stories four or five times before I put them online and still find dumb and obvious errors. It’s daunting. Right now I have a friend reading through my book and making a ‘notes’ file that contains all the errors that he’s found and when he’s done I will take them and fix those mistakes. The good thing about having a book online is that you can update the file.

    Editing is by far the most difficult task when it comes to writing in any format. I suppose the more people that you have to read a poem or what have you before you send it the better because you won’t catch everything yourself. I have accepted that now, whereas before I thought I was my own best editor. But I’m not, far from it, in fact.

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