My New Year’s Resolution: Submit!

My New Year’s Resolution: Submit!

I am not the type of person that usually creates a clichéd list of “New Year, New Me” goals—I have tried that before and it has not worked out; it is not for me. However, my entry in 2019 seems to be a bit different……but that is not to say that I walk into every new year with a lack of expectations or goals for myself. This time around though, the circumstances are a bit different.

I have been pretty absent from the literary submission game for quite some time: the last submission that I made to a literary journal, magazine, etc., was on June 30 while I sat in a terminal at San Francisco International Airport, making my back to Chicago from Berkeley, CA. Prior to this, I was learning the ropes of the literary submission game. I was submitting to about two or three literary magazines/journals a month. It did not take me very long to learn that for about every acceptance, or “yes,” that you get for a submission, it is usually proceeded by quite a few rejections.

My last submission, which I did for SFO, is one of my many rejections.

Prior to starting grad school, I made several mental notes to myself that I would submit more as the Fall semester went on, because like every other grad student, I had this idea that my work—primarily my poetry—would “evolve.” What is usually forgotten about this idea is what it means for a piece of writing to “evolve.” It does not just happen overnight, and the process of making a poem reach its final form isn’t always pretty. Add a full-time semester’s worth of projects for courses outside of my poetry workshop and my full-time job, and I unknowingly put literary submissions on the back-burner of everything, which is a bit ironic when one of my classes for the fall semester was literary production for the department’s student-run magazines Hair Trigger and Hair Trigger 2.0. . .

Although an unforeseen hiatus on submissions was not something that I intentionally imposed on myself, I will say that there were some benefits to this as I learned a bit more about the literary submission game, with the most important lesson coming from my last two weeks of poetry workshop: cover letters.

The idea of having to write a cover letter (which is required for almost every submission) can seem daunting, especially if it’s something you’ve never really asked or discussed with anyone. If you have googled something along the lines of “how to write a cover letter for writing submissions,” the ensuing results making it seem more complicated that it really needs to be. I learned that cover letters are actually pretty simple: the best ones are concise and don’t exceed three sentences! Cover letters only need to be a straightforward statement of what one is submitting, without much more detail (unless specified by the publisher in their guidelines).

A handout given to my poetry workshop last semester, which details different examples of cover letters, all of which are very short.

With this new-found information, I also discovered a couple of resources that are enriched with narrowing down what and where to submit: Duotrope and Entropy Magazine. Duotrope has a search engine in which users can narrow down submission opportunities to topic, form, and even intended audience. On the other hand, Entropy is loaded with an abundance of submission opportunities that range from anthologies presses, contest, residencies and fellowships, and much more.

Duotrope offers many filters and specifications to help narrow down submission opportunities.

It is my goal for 2019 to submit as much as possible before the beginning of the spring semester, and to not fall into another hiatus of zero literary submissions once the semester begins!

Total submissions I’ve made (as of this writing): five…