Monday, February 27, 2006

Why Poetry Submission is Becoming More & More Like Psychotherapy

Although I believe that sending submissions by e-mail is inevitably "the shape of things to come" and rightfully so since it is a much more efficient means of communication than snail mail. Alas, similar announcements to the following (by print journals) are becoming more and more common:

The ******** Literary Journal is now accepting submissions in all genres online. The fee for online submissions made from within the U.S. is $X.00. This fee is meant to cover the printing and other administrative costs on our end—including the hiring of additional staff to download and read the hundreds of pages of electronic submissions which currently arrive every day. We hope that this submission method will prove to be both convenient and economical, but you may always submit by snail mail following the regular guidelines. Acceptance rates for electronic and regular submissions are the same: currently, less than 1%.

Now I can understand an editor charging a nominal fee to read a full-length manuscript, but even though some poetry can be torture to read (and yes... I include mine in this category) - do I now have to pay to be told in that detached editorial tenor that in effect: I'm a lousy poet and that my work is "not currently what they're looking for"? To add insult to injury, they then usually wish you the best of luck placing it somewhere else? Yeah right!!! Yes, of course I am aware that snail-mail costs money to expedite - but at least when returning undelivered mail, the postman doesn't tell me that I don't know how to mail a letter correctly.

Maybe I ought to just start sending out my e-mail submissions while lying prone on my couch.


jenni said...

Let me just make a not of this:

Reason 1,721 NOT to submit:

Poetry is a business.

Collin said...

If a lit mag starts charging to read a submission, that's one less mag I have to submit to. Screw 'em.

Nick said...


Obviously you've been at this longer than me. I'm only at reason 1,431.


In all fairness, they do give you the option to send the sub by snail mail. Question is how long will that option be available?

Steven D. Schroeder said...

Amen to Collin. I take e-mail submissions, no charge.

I also tend to shun no-simultaneous-submission journals that take any longer than 2 months to respond. Bleh.

Bookfraud said...

totally with collin here. if you're trying to discourage getting overwhelmed by e-mail submissions don't allow e-mail submissions. just that simple.

i wouldn't worry about the snail mail option going away soon -- most journals don't accept electronically now, anyway.

steve mueske said...

The difference, though, is that most of these who offer nominal fees, allow you to track the submission online. You know when it has made it past the first or second reader, you know when the editor has read it, etc. I have two minds about this, but I do understand their point.