Every so often I send work to literary magazines. I get a lot of rejections, but sometimes I get a poem or two accepted. Last year I started seriously submitting my work. I sent the same (give or take) batch of poems to around 50 journals. I don’t recommend this strategy. Now I send things to maybe 1, 3 or 5 journals at a time. This is much more manageable. Tonight I sent work to a few magazine that had previously rejected me but asked me to resubmit. This is a good strategy. You can personalize your cover letter by saying something like, “Thank you (name of editor), for your encouraging words last time I submitted. I hope you’ll enjoy this new work.” That lets them know that you care that they took the time to be encouraging. I don’t know if anyone will be interested in my new work, but trying is important.
I’m waiting until school ends (in May) to submit my entire manuscript to first book contests. That means the ones that are accepting work now will have to wait until next year. But that’s okay because I want this semester to refine the book with Amy and really get it ready for publishing. At the moment, it isn’t ready, so I don’t want to waste my time or money on contests. After May I will begin the process and hope to all the gods that someone will like my work and think it worthy of publishing.
Submitting work is no easy task. It takes time to find journals that you think are appropriate for your work, to collate the best poems, and follow all the guidelines. But the feeling you get when an editor tells you they love your work and want to publish it has no equal.