Sending your poems and manuscripts to traditional publishers

Poets and writers often self-publish their work because they do not know how to go about getting published by traditional print journals, books, or e-zines. These tips, first posted here over 3 years ago, bear tweaking and repeating:

• Notice publishers of books and periodicals you like to read.

• Most of these publishers now have a website where you can study the titles in their book lines and read the poems and articles in their archives.

• Make a list of each publisher whose work is similar to yours.

• Study the writers’ guidelines on each company’s website.

• Some editors want a query first to get a quick idea of what you have in mind. Consider this a “sales pitch” meant to give the editor an overview that’s brief, relevant, and to the point.

• If an editor prefers your actual manuscript or batch of poems, great! Just follow the writers’ guidelines, submitting to one editor at a time.

• Keep track of where and when you sent your work. If you do not have a response in 2 to 3 months, follow-up.

• While you wait to hear about one poem or manuscript submission, start another.

• If the editor returns your work, don’t take it personally. The acceptance pile might be too big and space too small. But just in case, your work still needs work: Read it aloud. Listen for rough spots. Revise as needed, then submit the manuscript to the next publisher on your list.


© 2013, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. To give you an idea of the traditional publishing experiences that went into these suggestions, visit my Bio on my website.



2 thoughts on “Sending your poems and manuscripts to traditional publishers

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  1. I think you are just a little too kind about publishers. Many are stuck in grooves so deep they cannot see the light of day.
    Writers will self-publish, even self-print, because they know in their hearts what is written is written.
    I have had manuscripts re-written out of context, and even quoted texts altered to suit the editor.
    No good!

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