Posts Tagged ‘magazines’

Featured Magazines #17: The Bugle

Monday, May 5th, 2014

The Bugle

Most of the work I do is with “reluctant readers,” and I am used to having to warm up my audience, convincing them that poetry is not a scary thing and actually, anyone can write it. However, the Bugle team were way ahead of me – several of them regularly write poems for inclusion in the magazine, and reading the creative writing pieces intended for the Bugle’s pages is an important part of the editorial process. In a world where arts columnists are mourning poetry as a supposedly “dead” artform – while poets themselves bemoan the lack of dedicated readers – The Bugle is wonderful. Its editorial team are not only reading and writing poems – they’re also helping to keep this supposedly-dying breed of writing alive, by putting it into their publication and sending that publication out into the world for free.

I wrote a blogpost for the great social action blog Common Good Edinburgh last week, all about the amazing work being done by the team of The Bugle, Bethany Christian Trust’s Edinburgh-based zine-style magazine. It’s made entirely by homeless and vulnerably houses BCT service users and it’s brilliant. Click here to find out more!

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Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Dear poetry newbies: “why is my work always rejected?”

Monday, January 20th, 2014

A version of this post first appeared at One Night Stanzas in November 2008.

1. The standard isn’t high enough.
And by this I just mean that your poems aren’t “fit” for publication yet… but not that they never will be! If you’re sending out first drafts, poems that have only been hastily redrafted or edited, or poems that even you don’t think are all that amazing, then it might well be that you haven’t done quite enough to catch the eye of an editor. It’s easy to write a poem and then be overcome by a fervent desire to get it sent out immediately, but resist! Never send first drafts, and always devote a good chunk of time to redrafting and editing your chosen pieces. If possible, put them away for a while (a week, two weeks…) and then come back to them. And never send anything you’re not sure about. Work on it til you ARE sure about it, or send something else.
(NB: One of the best ways to get your poetry up to publication standard is to read the stuff that poetry magazines actually do publish - and if you can get hold of a copy of the specific magazines you want to submit to, even better!)

2. You’re not following the submission guidelines properly.
Some editors are happy to chuck a submission onto the slush pile for the slightest thing, so it’s always important to read and follow the submission guidelines carefully. Make sure you do everything according to the guidelines wherever you can; it can be a total pain, but it can also make the difference between acceptance and rejection. And don’t assume that one magazine’s guidelines apply to all! Read everyone’s guidelines, and follow them every time!

3. You commit minor - but deadly! - submission crimes.
A lot of poets reckon they can get away with sending the same four poems in the same email round to a whole load of editors at the same time - don’t do it! This suggests to editors that you don’t really care who picks up your poems or whether they’re published simultaneously. You also shouldn’t send “speculative” emails out before sending a submission. It may seem like politeness, but if an editor receives an email saying “check out my website and then maybe I’ll submit later”, they’re going to think a) you’re arrogant and b) you haven’t read their guidelines. Just put your submission together and send it! And don’t send snotty or pushy emails to editors until at least three months (yes, really, I’m afraid!) after the date you sent your submission. If you haven’t had a reply, there’s probably a reason, and going “oi, what are you messing about at?” after only a week or so is not going to make you any friends. Basically, when it comes to submissions, put in the work, follow the rules and be patient - that’s all there is to it!

4. Your cover letter needs a rewrite.
Have a good look at your cover letter (if you have one! If you don’t - write one!) and see if there are any of these common mistakes in it: heaps of biographical information (3 - 4 lines should do it); anything that could be interpreted as dishonest or boastful (”my work has appeared in 300 journals worldwide,” or the like); excessive negativity (”you’ll probably just reject me, but…”) anything that criticises or questions the publication or editor you’re writing to (”I found your website really hard to navigate” — keep it to yourself for now!); and of course, typos, grammatical errors or any unnecessary rambling! Exorcise all these things! It may leave your cover letter very short, but a couple of lines is all you need.

5. You’re submitting to the wrong magazines.
There are a lot of creative writing magazines out there and most of them are open for submissions for at least part of each year… so technically, you can submit to any of them. However, if you’re new to the whole submitting thing (or even if you aren’t!), it can be hard to know which are the best to choose. The sad fact is that a lot of editors are wary of publishing people who have never been published before, but fortunately, there are more and more magazines out there whose mission-statement is to provide as many writers as they can with their first publication opportunity. Many others specify that they welcome “unknown” or “emerging” writers, and you’re probably better off submitting to these if you can. You do get “unknown” writers in, say, Poetry Review, but if you want to give yourself the best chance of being accepted, it’s better to walk before you run, as they say!

6. You’re not ready to publish yet.
Only you can really know whether or not you’re ready to publish, but if you’re trying to get your work out there and the rejections are getting you down in a big way, then maybe you’re not 100% ready for the submission process. This might be hard to accept, but it’s better to wait until you’re better prepared than to make yourself suffer every time one of those pesky rejection letters lands in your mailbox. Give yourself six months, even a year. Spend that time writing - and more importantly, reading! - and then try getting back on the horse. You might find you still feel the same and need more time… if so, no worries. Or you might suddenly find that there’s the odd acceptance letter among those rejections; or that the rejections don’t bother you so much. Either way, the “time off” will have been well spent!

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Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

Guest post: why I don’t give in to submission by Mark Antony Owen

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

pile of magazines

The other day on Twitter I was chatting with Mark about a poem he’s written recently, and he happened to mention that it’s his policy never to send his poems out for publication in magazines. As this is a bit of a break from the usual poetrythink, I was intrigued to find out why… and thought you might be, too. So I invited Mark to write a guest post! Enjoy…

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The thinking goes like this: if you write, you write to be read. And as a poet, I certainly want to be read. So why don’t I submit my work to respected journals and sites? Or rather, having had five poems accepted for publication and only one rejection, why did I stop submitting? My thinking goes like this …

Poetry journals, in print or online, can be a great way for readers to discover new writing, new poets. At their best, they’re a platform for excellence – a filtration system that keeps the ‘bad’ writing from the ‘good’.

But journals can also skew one’s view of a poet or their work – as I discovered by accident.

Having read some print and online journals, I found several poets whose work I admired and whose collections I went on to buy. What was shown of their work was, I found, representative of their style and subject matter. Bottom line? One happy reader/customer. But there were also poets whose output I initially rejected as a result of seeing their work, in isolation, in journals. Poets whose collections I later dipped into in bookshops, only to find I actually quite liked other of their poems.

Frankly, I felt a little bit misled.

Now of course, it would be terribly unfair to journal editors to castigate them for having their own literary preferences and choosing to publish only those works which they deem to have merit. And anyone who reads a particular journal for long enough will surely get to know an editor’s tastes and can then decide whether or not these match their own. But the fact remains that journals can only showcase a poet’s work as a ‘slice’ – at first, anyway. And that slice may not cut it for everyone.

So we come to my reason for not submitting. Is it fear of rejection? Is it fear of the agonising wait for a response that might be a rejection? Is it artistic arrogance? It’s none of these. It’s simply that I don’t believe my own poems stand up well individually. By which, I don’t mean each poem isn’t readable or even rewarding in its own way. I mean that I conceive my poems as details in a larger canvas. Yes, you can appreciate them close up. But I prefer them to be seen within the context of a collection. I just think they work better that way; and it’s completely unreasonable of me to expect them to be seen this way if they’re being published in ones and twos across various journals.

Let me be clear – I’m not knocking (or rejecting) journals. I’m simply saying they’re not for me or my work. At least, not now I’ve found my style and have a broad creative vision for my writing. You might think: ‘If you don’t submit, how will you be read?’ Good question – and one to which I don’t have a good answer. All I know is that I’m not about to give in.

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Mark Antony Owen is a poet who writes exclusively in syllabic metre. His poetry draws on that world where the English countryside bleeds into ordinary suburban living – a world he refers to as ‘subrural’.

Mark builds around details of subrural life to create economical poems; each obeying one of nine self-developed forms or variations on these – his subjects often painted a little darker than they really are.

From autumn 2013, Mark will self-publish ‘Subruria’: a multi-volume collection he describes as part sketchbook, part journal, part memoir.

You can find out more at Mark’s website or follow him on Twitter.

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Want to write a guest post for One Night Stanzas? Email me a short, informal pitch to claire [at] onenightstanzas.com and we’ll talk!
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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

Dear Poetry Newbies: 10 Commandments! What to AVOID when sending your poetry to magazines.

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Rules

An earlier version of this post appeared at One Night Stanzas in September 2008.

1: Thou shalt not lie.
I know I keep banging on about “being yourself,” but it’s important! So when it comes to sending off your work, not lying means not pretending that you haven’t sent your work elsewhere if you have, not making up imaginary writing credits or other frillies to spice up your bio, and not using other people’s material without crediting them or asking their permission. OK?

2: Thou shalt not be rude.
Do you want these people to publish you or not?! Always be polite and respect magazine staff and eds.

3: Thou shalt not be lazy about your cover letter..
Any kind of correspondence that informs your editor that you “hav sum poems 4u guys 2 read” (or the like) is going to seriously damage your chances! And no cover letter is basically just rude.

4: Thou shalt not be negative.
Assuming that your poems will be rejected is not the way to go, and saying as much in your cover-letter (e.g. “I’m guessing you guys will just reject these”) is even worse! Don’t put the R-word in the editor’s mind… and better still, keep it out of yours, too.

5: Thou shalt not be boastful.
Whether it’s in your cover-letter, your bio or your writers’ group meeting… it doesn’t matter how many publications you have to your name. Nobody likes a show-off!

6: Thou shalt not enter into any nasty or aggressively competitive stuff with other poets.
Sadly, the poetry world contains a fair few people who like to see others fail. Please, please don’t be one of them.

7: Thou shalt not question the editor.
Unless they’re unnecessarily rude to you (unlikely, I hope) or you need clarification about something, do not try and question the editor’s decision. Pleading, arguing and mud-slinging are unlikely to change their mind… trust me, I’ve tried!

8: Thou shalt not listen to bad advice.
e.g. “you’re too young to be published” or “I never read the submission guidelines” or “why are you bothering with this? You’ll never get accepted!” People who say such things are best ignored!

9: Thou shalt not ignore feedback from magazine editors.
It’s a rare commodity - use it wisely!

10: Thou shalt not give up.
Don’t let rejection / submission fatigue / writer’s block / negative criticism get you down. Keep writing, editing, improving, submitting. You can do it!

Disagree? Think I’ve missed a commandment? Got your own ideas? Let me know!

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

Dear Poetry Newbies: writing your submission cover letter

Monday, September 10th, 2012

letters to you

An earlier version of this post appeared at One Night Stanzas in September 2008. Please note, Read This Magazine is no longer an active publication.

One of the most important components of any submission is the cover letter - whether you’re sending a quickly-rattled-off haiku to a low-fi magazine, submitting your best four works to a respected literary journal or posting off a hard-wrought manuscript to a potential publisher. A decent cover letter can make the difference between acceptance and rejection, and because it’s generally the first thing the editor, agent or contest judge sees, it can even make or break the chances of your poems being read at all. The cover letter is a blank canvas upon which you can paint a picture of yourself for your new editor, collaborator, agent or publisher — it’s your chance to show them a little of the personality behind the poems, to tell them you’re different from the million other wannabe poets whose emails they’ve received this week. In short, the cover letter is a powerful tool, and yet a huge number of poets fail to use it to its full potential — in fact, many people just don’t bother with cover letters at all.
Now, you may well be one of the lucky few who has realised the potential of the letter and got your method of composition down to a fine art. But if you’re not, you’re probably wondering exactly how you can make more of this useful writerly tool. Well, as always, ONS is here to help, with a few pointers to get you well on the way to writing the cover letter that could change your life! (Well… maybe.)

1: Be yourself.
This is the #1 rule when it comes to doing just about anything. Poetry is a personal thing — it comes from a sincere place, and so should the covering letter that accompanies it. So don’t show off and big yourself up in your letter if you’re actually a shy and retiring wallflower, for example — if your reader is worth their salt, they’ll be able to sense something fishy. If you’re submitting for the first time ever and you’re unsure about things, say so! Editors are all human beings too (as far as I know!) and chances are, they probably felt the same as you once upon a time. OK, so saying “I’m not sure if this is right or not!” might sound feckless — and some stony recipients may take the opportunity to roll their eyes at your expense — but it’s much better than trying to pretend you’re totally au fait with everything when you’re not.

2: Be polite.
This may seem like a total no-brainer, and it really ought to go without saying, but you’d be shocked by the number of downright rude cover letters that used to land in the Read This Magazine mailbox every month. Comments that could be perceived as rude range from the self-deprecating (”I expect you’ll probably decide that your magazine’s too good for my stuff”) to the plain offensive (”if you reject my poems then f**k you” — a line which, we found, crops up with alarming regularity).
A lot of these comments are probably intended to be tongue-in-cheek, but when all you have to go on is an email, it can be hard to read “f**k you” as anything other than offensive. Basically, there’s nothing more effective than rudeness to make an editor think ‘reject!’, and for this reason, it’s best to keep any wisecracks to a minimum.

3: Don’t criticise your recipient.
Basically, whilst you are by no means required to agree with every rule in a particular magazine’s submission guidelines, or to accept everything a particular publisher stands for, if you want to have your work accepted, it’s probably best to keep your misgivings to yourself. Saying “the way you do X is kind of lame” will not do you any favours. OK, so a good editor shouldn’t let it sway their decision, but it may well sour their mood… right when they’re about to read your poems! For example, when Read This started up, we got a submission from a guy whose cover letter included the line “by the way guys, your website looks kind of amateurish and the colours hurt to look at.” He was probably trying to be helpful, but it made us all a bit upset and annoyed — we’d just spent a load of time and money getting online. When it came to looking at the guy’s work, we were just unable to get warmed up to discussing it. Being impartial is tricky when your first impression of someone is that they’re potentially hostile to what you’re doing!

4: Avoid grandiose statements.
OK, this is my particular pet hate, and Read This used to get it all the time. It ties in with what I said in point one about being dishonest and showing off - there’s nothing worse than a cover letter that’s full of ego! Some perfect examples: “my work has featured in over 200 literary publications worldwide” (sorry, but my immediate response is ’so why haven’t I heard of you?’) and “I have around 700 poems to my name” (being prolific isn’t necessarily good, and certainly doesn’t make an editor more likely to publish you). Sound like any of your cover letters?
It’s easy to fall into the trap of bigging yourself up, because of course you want to make as good an impression as possible. But rather than the sweeping grandiose statements (which can make you look like an egomaniac, or even a bit of a fibber), try being more specific. If you’ve been published in a load of magazines, name three or four of the more ‘respected’ ones. If you don’t know which are the ‘respected’ ones, just name the most recent - that way, instead of thinking “so why haven’t I heard of you?” the editor is more likely to think “I know that magazine - this person must be good!” And rather than stating exactly how many poems you’ve ever written (700 may be a huge achievement for you, but to a stranger it’s just a number), again, try to be more specific. Let the editor know why you write such a lot. Say “I write as often as possible so I can keep growing as a poet,” or “I’ve written a lot of poems about cultural identity, because I feel strongly about it.” Both these statements will make the person at the other end of your submission letter/email much more interested in you, and they also avoid the arrogance factor.

5: Your poems are written with care - your cover letter should be, too!
So that means checking for spelling errors and typos, and writing in full words and sentences. Not all magazines expect you to do the hyper-formal, with-kind-regards-yours-sincerely stuff, but I’d say that 99.9% of magazine staff would be put off by “here r sum poems 4u guys.” It might turn out to be unmerited, but a badly-worded or lazily-spelled cover letter could lead to some doubt about your abilities as a poet!

6: Sign your name.
This is another no-brainer, but Read This constantly received submissions from John and Jane Does who provided NO clues about their identity! I mean, this isn’t a major issue, but it does make for rather awkward replying (”Dear anonymous poet”?). We also had submissions from people who have only supplied “screen names” (see my post on pen names), and even one person who, crazily, wrote a perfectly good cover letter but signed it “who wants to know?” WHAT?!
Basically, just give the editor something to go on. As the pen name article explains, you don’t have to use your real name - just provide something half-sensible that your recipient can use to refer to you… and always make sure you provide a working email address or correct mailing address for replies.

Ever received a cover letter, or proof-read one for a friend, that you think deserves a mention? Was it unbelievably impressive or heinously bad? Do you have any cover letter crimes that you want to own up to?

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

Dear Poetry Newbies: Rejection Therapy

Monday, May 28th, 2012


Photo by Didrooglie.

An earlier version of this post appeared at One Night Stanzas in September 2008.

What are the eight words no writer ever wants to hear? “We are not using your work this time” of course! Most of us see that sentence and silently translate it to “you’ve been rejected, therefore you suck,” and for some people, that’s enough to throw their writing off track for days, weeks, months or even years.
However, if you want to be a writer, you need to accept that rejection is as much a part of the writing game as inky fingers and writer’s cramp (or, these days, repetitive strain injury). But if you’re still finding the rejection pill hard to swallow, then read on…

Everyone gets rejected.
The first thing you need to realise is that you are absolutely NOT alone in your rejection misery. I don’t think there’s a single writer alive who hasn’t felt the sting of rejection in one form or another - even the most famous, successful and established writer will be able to tell you the tale of their worst rejection experience (or experiences)! Basically, rejection comes with the poetic territory… so don’t allow that nasty, negative voice in your head to do the whole “what’s wrong with you? Everyone else gets accepted” routine. Don’t believe me? Join a writing group, workshop or forum and just mention the R-word… I guarantee that everyone will have a story to tell.

It’s not personal… or it shouldn’t be.
Why is it that your confidence takes a massive nosedive when you hear your work has been rejected? Probably because you make it personal - and don’t get me wrong, that’s not unusual, but it’s also not a good way of dealing with it. It’s important that you realise it isn’t personal - chances are, the rejection has nothing to do with who you are as an individual. The editor hasn’t turned you down because they have a personal vendetta against you, or because they hate young / old / gay / straight / male / female writers like you, or because they could tell from reading your stuff that you sometimes surreptitiously listen to Cliff Richard. And if they DID turn you down for personal reasons, then they’re just a bad editor - no two ways about it - and you’re better off not being associated with their publication. So there!!

It does NOT mean your writing sucks.
There are heaps of factors that can influence an editor’s decision. First and foremost, they have to find pieces that will physically fit into their publication - it might be that your poem exceeded their maximum length, or the formatting was just too tricky for them to work with. And your work also has to “fit” in a more abstract sense… so just because one magazine perhaps doesn’t think your work belongs on their particular pages, that doesn’t mean every zine in the world will turn you down. Reading submission guidelines is really important, because knowing what kind of place you’re submitting to and making sure you follow their rules to the letter can eliminate these possible-rejection factors. You also need to bear in mind that any successful magazine has a rigorous selection process, because only a small percentage of submissions can be accepted. Sometimes, editors are even forced to reject work that they actually really love.

All editors are different…
…and this is important for two reasons. One: there are some editors out there who will reject you for something as minor as a typo, or an uncredited reference to another writer. Others are more forgiving when it comes to the little details, but draw the line at things like an absent cover-letter when they specifically requested one. And there are some editors who’ll forgive you just about anything as long as your poems are good enough - problem is, you just don’t know what kind of editor is on the other end of your submission!
And two: at the end of the day, the editor you’re sending your work to is just another reader - and you can’t expect every single reader to love you, can you? Admittedly, a bigger, more democratic editorial team makes for a better magazine, and so most publications have a kind of “panel” system by which they decide who to accept. Lone editors often have to base their choices on personal taste, which seems unfair, but it’s the way the cookie crumbles. And just because one person - or even a four-person team - didn’t love your work, that doesn’t mean there won’t he heaps of people out there who do!

Rejection is no fun for anyone.
Believe it or not, most editors hate the whole rejection thing as much as you do. Sure, you meet the odd sadistic weirdo who loves to put eager young poets down (I’ve met with one of these so far), but generally - unless someone’s been really annoying, ie, ignored submission guidelines or been rude - sending the rejection letters is considered one of the least fun parts of the job. I used to HATE sending out the Read This rejections, because I know all too well that awful sinking feeling you get when your personal turn-down reaches your mailbox. So take comfort in the fact that, somewhere, there may well be a magazine editor squirming with guilt as they imagine you reading your rejection letter!

Or… you could just do this*:

*Don’t do this.

Your worst rejection? Care to share?

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Dear Poetry Newbies: how to start publishing in magazines.

Monday, May 14th, 2012

foam mag

An earlier version of this post appeared at One Night Stanzas in August 2008. Please note, Read This Magazine is no longer an active publication.

About six months ago, I organised a small-scale poetry event to raise funds and awareness for Read This, and was delighted when a famous poet showed up to lend his support. Unfortunately, one of the young poets who’d come along to read ended up a couple of red wines past her bedtime, and accosted said famous poet while he was outside having a sneaky cigarette. She went in for the kill with something along the lines of “tell me how I can be a poet like you!” and – clearly rather startled, the famous poet could only respond with: “well… send your work to magazines. That’s about it.”
In throwing caution to the wind, the emerging poet voiced an anxiety that plagues many young writers. You want to produce poetry, and get that poetry ‘out there’ to be read – but how the heck do you do it? Where do you start?
Technically, the famous poet is right: the best way to begin, the best way to eventually become ‘established,’ is to get your poems printed in magazines. Magazine publishing – coupled with other poem-honing activities like poetry readings, retreats and workshops – can really help you climb the ladder… but I’m sure even the famous poet would admit that getting into magazines is often far from easy!

Be ready.
The very first thing you need to do is address whether you’re actually ready to send your work to magazines or not. It’s a big step up, to go from just writing for yourself to sending your stuff out into the world for editors – and potentially a whole load of readers – to see. It’s essential that you feel confident your work is good enough, so that when you eventually get that inevitable first rejection letter, you’ll be ready for it – and, most importantly, you’ll be able to grit your teeth and carry on with the process! Unfortunately, no one else can really tell you whether or not you and your work are ready to face the general public – it’s something you have to gauge totally on your own. “Being ready” has nothing to do with age, gender, nationality or anything else – at Read This, we’ve received and published fantastic work from 13-year-olds, but had writing from 33-year-olds who were just not quite ready for magazines yet – and vice-versa! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it because you’re too young, too old, not good enough, etc. And at the same time, don’t let anyone else push you into it before you’re ready. Mainly, it’s about feeling comfortable and confident in your work and yourself, and being prepared for what is sometimes a long and hard road to publication.

Learn about the process.
Knowing what happens to your poems after you release them into the world can really help you to decide whether or not you’re ready for the world of magazines or not. Of course, every magazine is different, but generally the selection process for poems is roughly the same. When your poems land in the magazine’s mailbox, chances are they’ll be surrounded by many, many others. (Even Read This, which has a print-run of only 150 per month, receives submissions by the hundred.) When your poem is read, it will be held up to the magazine’s personal benchmarks - see ‘Do Your Research’! - as well as being considered alongside the many other hopefuls. In some cases, poems will be rejected outright because of factors like length or subject matter, but most of the time, the editors really will sift through all the poems, reading each and every one before deciding what will make it into the issue. As you can imagine, this can take absolutely ages, so expect a delay of anything up to three or four months before they get back to you. (Some magazines don’t respond to the people whose work they’re not using, but you should still wait at least eight weeks before sending the same poems somewhere else.) Also, most magazines can only publish a very small percentage of the poetry they receive (as little as 2% in the case of some larger publications), so if you do receive a rejection letter, you have to be aware that space is a massive deciding factor.

Learn to love rejection (if you can!)
Because of the huge numbers of submissions that most magazines receive, you do have to accept that rejection may well become your new best friend as you delve into the submission process – that’s something that even established poets have to learn to live with! Don’t get me wrong, that “we will not be using your work this time” line really stings, no matter how many times you hear it – and no matter how many times you’ve been accepted in the past, it’s guaranteed to knock the wind out of your sails just a little. However, it’s important to find a way of dealing with it, so you can move on, get back to the grind, keep writing, and hopefully get published! (Need some Rejection Therapy?)

Do your research.
OK, so you’re sure you’re ready to send your work to magazines, you know all about the process and you’re totally ready for rejection to come along and bite you on the ass. Can you start addressing envelopes yet?
Well… not quite. First of all you need to do some research, which might sound boring, but it’ll pay off. Obviously, you need to choose which magazines you want to send your work to – some will be better for you than others (check out my list of featured creative writing magazines). Once you’ve chosen (and here’s the important bit!) read the submission guidelines for every publication very carefully, and - unless you have a really damn good reason not to - follow them to the letter! Nothing gets an editor’s goat more than someone who wants their poems to take up valuable space in a magazine, but who can’t even be bothered to read or follow that magazine’s system for submitting. Each magazine has its own guidelines and they vary greatly – some ban adult content, some refuse science fiction, some only take work in translation, some reject single-spaced poems. Although Read This just says “send us ANYTHING!”, most magazines are very specific about their requirements, and for this reason, you need to check the guidelines every time you submit. It’s time-consuming, but it’s a must!

Send your work wisely.
So, once you have the reading-guidelines-obsessively thing down, you can finally start sending your work out to editorial teams far and wide! The final thing you have to remember is just to send your work wisely – for example, while the occasional zine or two are cool with it, most magazines prefer you not to send work that has been published elsewhere, or that might be under consideration by another magazine (this will probably be somewhere in the submission guidelines, but if it isn’t, it’s best to assume they don’t accept simultaneous submissions). Send all your poems in one email or envelope rather than flooding the poor editor’s mailbox, and if you do email, make sure all attachments are in a standard file-type and will open at the other end. If you’re sending your poems by post and want the poems back, include a SAE with enough stamps on it – do NOT send cash or cheques in the post and expect the magazine staff to buy the postage themselves! Always be sure to include your contact details with your submission, and be courteous and lovely in all your correspondence – karma might well reward you!

Other stuff to read from elsewhere:
A quick cautionary note: there are LOADS of sites all over the internet which claim to help you publish your work. Be viligant! A lot of these are scams or money-making exercises. You should always be able to publish your work without paying anyone, so NEVER part with “reading fees” – if a magazine’s submission process is not free, it’s not worth getting involved with. Also, even the free and legitimate poetry-publishing-advice sites often leave a lot to be desired. For example, the first four my search-engine found were these:

About.com are a massive, corporate and non-poetry-specific site, but their guidelines are actually OK – though they don’t really take email submissions into account, so I suspect they’re a bit outdated. Also, I do NOT agree at all with what they say about cover letters – read their views, then check out this to get a balance.

Empty Mirror Books’ advice seems to be one big ad for a writers’ directory book, which makes me suspicious – they reckon it’s essential, but only part with your cash it if you think you’ll really use it. A lot of the info the book provides is probably available online for free.

There’s nothing wrong with SoYouWanna’s suggestions per se, but again, they’re a massive corporate site and they don’t specialise in poetry or publishing at all. The tone of the article is rather aggressive and they resort to mass generalisations like advising all poets to edit their work down to “the fewest words possible.” Altogether now… ARGH!

The best of the lot is probably Tim Love’s guide to publishing in the UK – its biggest flaw is obviously that it’s UK specific. Also, the advice is coming from a long-standing, plain-speaking poet who has weathered a fair few rejections – just don’t let the cynical tone put you off, young ‘uns!

Basically, if you want advice, click around. Read up. Don’t part with any cash unless you’re totally sure. Don’t be intimidated or put off. Take everything with a hefty pinch of salt. Follow your instincts. Go for it.

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

Call for submissions: “Article-8″ mixed media magazine project

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

the plague

Today I had a very exciting and highly informative meeting with one Mr Nic Cameron, a graphic design student at Edinburgh’s Telford College (full disclosure: for my sins, I work here). Nic is a music enthusiast and former scribbler of poems, and for one of his big course projects, he’s decided to do something very ambitious and pretty darned innovative: create his own hybrid poetry/spoken word and music magazine.

In our meet-up, Nic outlined his reasons for choosing this particular path. Although he hasn’t written poetry himself for a while, he is still very aware of the question, “why don’t more people read poems?” Like many youngsters, he’s bugged by how inaccessible the poetry world sometimes seems. He’s also aware that music magazines can and do attract the kind of people who might like poems, if they only had the chance to see and hear some. His project aims to kill all these problematic birds with one stone. Music magazines have the ability to pull in loads of readers — why not add some poetry into the mix? That way you’d introduce poetry to a new, young audience — and vice-versa.

Personally, I think thought this was a great idea — even more so when I heard a few more details. Article-8, as the magazine has been dubbed, will be a long way from your standard print poetry journal. Nic showed me examples of concrete poetry that had got him fired up, and then talked to me about the potential for changing the way poems interact with the page. In short, he wants to put his graphic design skills to use when editing the magazine together: he’s looking for poets who’d be cool to have their words snaked across the page or ribboned through videos in weird and wonderful shapes… shapes determined by a graphic artist’s eye.

Nic is also looking for poets who’d be willing to supply audio recordings of themselves reading their poems. As well as a print magazine, Article-8 will also become a website and a smartphone app. Performance and sound are two things that link poetry and music, and it seems they’ll be integral to this publication. Nic can help you record good quality audio if you’d be willing to meet with him — or if you’ve already got your own clean recording, you can send it to him with your written work.

In short, Article-8 is looking for brave, open-minded poets who are willing to put their words into the hands of a smart, ambitious graphic artist and see what the results might be. This is a great chance to collaborate and learn about how the shape of your poem changes how it’s read and seen. It’s also a chance to get involved in a conversation about how we make poetry more relevant and interesting to young people — a conversation that really needs to be had. If you fancy offering up some of your work (and, if you’re willing to meet for a recording session, a wee bit of your time) for this excellent cause, then read the blurb below, and submit some stuff to nicholas[dot]cameron[at]live.co.uk.

I’m Nic Cameron – a graphic design student from Edinburgh’s Telford College and I have this mad idea… as a working title I’m calling it ‘Article-8 Magazine’ and here’s the gist:

What would the birth-child of a spoken word/poetry journal and a music magazine look like? Could clever typography and design let words speak in the absence of a voice – would bold features, useful articles and engaging content allow the format to reach out to a new, younger and broader audience?

These are questions I’m trying to answer in my final project but I need writers on board to help generate content and volunteer their work for this venture. If you’d like to see a visual interpretation of your writing - now’s the chance. For the project I’d be looking to produce 8 double page spreads, 2 front covers, 2 kinetic type videos, a website and a smart phone app and I need relevant writing/performance for all of these. I’d ask that those who want to donate audio for the videos could arrange with me to be recorded on a good microphone - I’ll take care of the technical side, you just need to read into the machine!

Unfortunately - because this is to a limited timescale there is a chance that not all the work submitted will be used - that said, if this prototype receives positive reviews it may become a much larger beast in the future. I had completely underestimated the excitement this would generate.

This would be non-profit and unreleased. However, if I use your work, you will be able to use the visuals wherever you see fit.

Interested in this idea? Please email a short bio (150 words or so) and two samples of work to nicholas[dot]cameron[at]live.co.uk”

I’m sure Nic would be more than willing to answer any questions you might have about the process, too! Happy submitting, and GOOD LUCK to Nic for what I’m sure will be a great project!

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

Procrastination Station #94

Friday, September 9th, 2011

Cheer and Heartsong

Hello! Yes, I’m still alive. ONS has been pretty quiet lately — I was away for most of the summer months on an epic West Pacific Coast roadtrip through three US States and a Canadian province, all via the delightful Greyhound bus network. And before I even realised was I back on home turf, I was straight back to work, getting to grips with a whole new academic year’s worth of bright and enquiring young minds (ahem). Things are still pretty mental, so posts may continue to appear only sporadically. But stick around, if you would be so good. Here are some cool things to brighten your Friday!

I am a huge fan of marginalia and discarded, book-related paraphernalia. This site is pretty much my dream blog, therefore.

The truth doesn’t come out in bumper stickers.” Amen to that!

You’ve got to love a great literary feud — check out some of the choice words dished out by literature’s brightest and best!

The great Neil Gaiman talks about American Gods as it hits its big birthday.

Can an empty text be a book? Is it writing? Rob Mackenzie is unsure.

I still heart the Rejectionist.

This appealed to the grammar Nazi in me: the Beatles’ use of pronouns.
Bidisha’s still yelling about gender inequity in the weird world of literary prizes, and I am still loving her for it.

Are you a fan of weird or old fashioned words? Click here forthwith!
Katie of Color Me Katie has the cutest cat ever.

I deeply, deeply enjoyed finding out what the 25 Geekiest Knuckle Tattoos Ever! are (no, really, I did).

This is going on my Christmas list.

Pretty typography makes me happy! (via @CheshireSpider)

Friday cuteness: kittens and turtles. You’re welcome. (both via Ms Thackaray)


My lovely sister made a new fireworks short film… very dark and beautiful.


George Watsky’s music is one of my favourite things in the world.


And speaking of Watsky… he plays Shakespeare in this epic literary rap battle!

Have a great weekend, all!

Featured Magazines (meets Things I’m Reading Thursday!) #15: Anon

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Anon Magazine
Editors: Colin Fraser, Peggy Hughes
Established: 2003
Based in: Edinburgh
Website: http://www.anonpoetry.co.uk
Submit via: this link

Anon is a very different kind of creative writing magazine. The ultimate experiment in unbiased editing, this publication is all about anonymity, as the name suggests. Writers who wish to submit their work must do so via a top-secret electronic ninja submission form, which means that when the editors receive the poems at the other end, the writer’s identity is totally hidden. Anon pride themselves on judging the submissions they receive on merit alone, but they’re also interested in maintaining a dialogue about the wider concerns that surround editorship in general. Indeed, the magazine has divided opinion. However, although the anonymous approach is not to everyone’s taste, Anon has made quite a name for itself with a new editorial team and a run of successful recent issues that were chock-full of brilliant stuff.

As well as the magazine, the Anon team also produce poetry-related podcasts and are actively involved in a huge variety of literary projects in the wider lit community. The latest issue of Anon is the magazine’s seventh outing, and would be an excellent place to start for anyone wanting to find out more about the magazine. You can buy a copy here. Alternatively, the team are currently running a package deal where you can buy Anon 1 and Anon 6 together — a good way to get a feel for the magazine’s origins but also how it’s changed and developed over the years. Anon is also reliant upon funding and donations, so if you have a few spare pennies and fancy donating them to a very deserving literary cause, head in this direction.

Anon has published some of my favourite upcoming poets including former ONS Featured Poets Christian Ward and Juliet Wilson, former Read This Magazine editor Dave Coates, and in the current issue they’ve also published articles by Alastair Cook of this collection, filmpoem.com and DISSIMILAR, and even little old me. A highly recommended read and a great wee magazine to appear in — send them some submissions!

Know a zine, journal or other publication that deserves some recognition? Let me know in the comments box or by emailing claire@onenightstanzas.com!

(Photo by OdeToJoi)

Don’t forget to visit The Read This Store, and its sister store, Edinburgh Vintage!

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