Blog – Mary Harwell Sayler

As the New Year begins, expand your options and improve your writing and publishing success with these tips and helps.

Source: Blog – Mary Harwell Sayler


THE Market guide for poets

The 2015 Poet’s Market guide published by Writer’s Digest Books is THE book for poets who want their poems to be traditionally published. Like previous editions I’ve purchased over the years, the review copy that WD kindly sent me contains a wide range of articles in these key categories:

• Business of Poetry (getting organized, avoiding common mistakes, etc.)

• Promotion of Poetry (articles on platforms, blogs, readings, and more)

• Poet Interviews (with well-published poets offering insights into writing)

• Craft of Poetry (form, rhyme, meter, writing prompts, revision, and more)

• Poems (about poetry or being a poet)

• Markets (lists of magazines/journals, book/chapbook publishers, contests, awards, and grants)

• Resources (conferences, workshops, poetry festivals, poetry organizations, A to Z glossary of poetry terminology, and more)

• Indexes (subjects covered in poetry publications and a general A to Z index of publishers)

In the opening article “From The Editor,” Robert Lee Brewer assures us that this edition has even more listings of poetry publishers and contests than last year’s market guide. So, naturally, I had to flip ahead to the second half of this book where I immediately noticed new-to-me names of publishers of poetry books and chapbooks as well as journals I haven’t yet read. Such “finds” are worth the whole book!

Before drooling too long over those publishing contacts, however, reading the article “How To Use Poet’s Market” will prepare you and your poems for the submission process with these preliminary steps:

1. Be an avid reader.

2. Know what you like to write – and what you write best.

3. Learn the “business” of poetry publishing.

4. Research the markets.

5. Start slowly (as in, don’t rush into print!)

6. Be professional.

7. Keep track of your submissions.

8. Don’t fear rejection. Learn from it.

To give a glimpse of what they’ve learned, well-published poets and poetry instructors wrote informative articles for the book on everything from punctuating and formatting a poem to writing in form, working with editors, promoting a new book, and giving a poetry reading.

Not only does the book intersperse articles with interesting interviews, the guide includes a section of poems about reading poetry, writing poems, and “How To Break Up With A Poem” that just isn’t coming together!

Although I’ve been writing poems forever and getting published for quite a while, the front half of the book gave me refreshing perspectives on being a poet and a great refresher on poetry techniques.

Whenever I buy the book, however, I do so to expand my potential markets and see publishers’ updates and current needs. Occasionally “Tips” such as “We like how-to articles” are added, but mainly, the format includes each publisher’s name with the mail and e-mail addresses, the name of the editor to contact, a statement about the company’s practices, and immediate “Needs,” including preferences, length requirements, and topics to avoid.

Read and heed those needs!

If a periodical asks you not to stuff a #10 envelope with 10 or more poems, then stuffeth thou not!

If they say, “We like carefully crafted poems,” that means showing craft not a first draft!

But, even if you think you don’t know what a publisher’s preferences mean, you will if you simply look up unfamiliar terms in the A to Z glossary provided, then give yourself and your poems whatever time you need.

© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler has placed hundreds of poems and 27 traditionally published books in all genres. Her e-book, the Christian Poet’s Guide to Writing Poetry, is a revision of the poetry home study course she wrote and used for years with other poets and poetry students, and she continues to offer one-on-one feedback for a minimal fee through her website.

2015 Poet’s Market guide, paperback


The story behind the Christian Poet’s Guide to Writing Poetry

When I began instructing students of Joan Unger’s Personalized Study Program in the early 1980’s, we had no poetry home study course, but then, no one else did either. Joan and I decided to add one to the correspondence courses (yeah, by snail mail) she had written on fiction and nonfiction. So I wrote the PSP course in Poetry, which we also called the “V” (for “verse”) units.

Joan did the formatting and everything else – not only for PSP studies, but also for the Christian Writers Fellowship (CWFI) she had founded and directed. After she retired, I headed CWFI for a few years until turning it over to Sandy Brooks and the fiction and nonfiction courses to Marlene Bagnull with my blessings – and relief!

By then I had all sorts of writing projects but kept working, one on one, with poetry students until I needed help. Thanks to a former PSP student, very successful writer, and poet-peer Mona Hodgson, I got caught up and continued to tweak and use the PSP poetry home study course for years with poetry students.

With the advent of the Internet, however, online help became instantly available for poetry lovers and students with fewer and fewer interested in poetry courses by mail. I tweaked the course to aim toward a more secular audience and found a traditional publisher for the book version Poetry: Taking Its Course.

By the time I ran out of copies, e-books had made books readily accessible to people all over the world, so self-publishing on Kindle seemed like the way to go. First, however, I returned the text to its original emphasis on a Christian poet’s perspective then changed the name to the Christian Poet’s Guide to Writing Poetry.

You can find the new e-book on Amazon, but in case you don’t get a hand-held Kindle for Christmas, you’ll be glad to know you don’t have to have one. Just download the free Kindle viewer onto your computer, and you can order this and other e-books online.

As a poet who still prefers pencil and paper, I’m happy to say the e-book formatting process on Kindle was simple enough that, Lord willing, I’ll upload an easy-reader poetry dictionary soon. Meanwhile, if you find any errors on the Christian Poet’s Guide to Writing Poetry, please let me know. And, if you get anything helpful out of the book, let other people know in your review. Thanks and blessings.

(c) 2012, Mary Harwell Sayler

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