HappenStance has an open submissions policy for poets. There are two reading ‘windows’ per year. The next one is July. Please don’t send them in June!

HappenStance has an open submissions policy for poets. There are two reading ‘windows’ per year. The next one is July. Please don’t send them in June!

Generally I like poets. I know they’re all potty to some extent or other, but that’s okay. I’m potty in just the same way myself.

Like most (but not all) editors and publishers, I’ve been on both sides of the business. I’ve sent my own poems away and felt, to varying degrees at different times, embarrassed or inadequate when the response was returned. I wasn’t an expert. I made a lot of mistakes.

But just now I’m stuck on this side of that process. So if you’re thinking of sending poems to me, you need to know something about my expectations before sending your valued cargo in my direction.

I have written a lot about this already, so the first thing to do (please, oh please) is to read it. Think of it as entering a competition. If you break the rules, it’s not going to augur well. So read the submission guidelines carefully. If the ‘window’ for reading is July, don’t send the poems in June, even though it also starts ‘Ju’.

You could also search back blog entries, using the Getting Your Poetry Published category.

Several submissions have arrived already, but I don’t read them in June. If they arrive in May or June they will go to the bottom, not the top, of the pile. (Actually I’m also away on holiday the first week in July and I’m not taking them with me). Best time to send is second week in July.

There is a document called 33 DOs and 13.5 DON’Ts of Poetry Submission available as a free download in the shop. It would be a good idea to get it and check the boxes as appropriate. Different publishers have different expectations. These are mine.

If you haven’t already read it, get How (Not) to Get Your Poetry Published. I wrote it because I had run out of energy to tell people all the things that are in it. I think you should read it, even if you think you know it all already. But I would think that.

Chris Hamilton-Emery’s book 101 Ways to Make Poems Sell is depressing in many ways, especially if you’re a gentle, modest, reticent person – the kind of person I like. But you should read it.

Bottom line: I spend most of my time worrying how I’m going to find readers for the poetry pamphlets I already have in print. I don’t make money from these publications, I lose it – and I am not rich.

I will turn down nearly all the submissions I get in July perforce, although I will give feedback, provided people include an envelope large enough to return the poems in (I invariably write on the poems in pencil as I read, and even if I accept the submission, that feedback has to go back to the author). If the submissions are from HappenStance subscribers, it will be detailed.

There are other pamphlet publishers too. I am not the only one. Check out my list of poetry pamphlet publishers – also in the shop. I keep updating it, though it is never comprehensive.

And bear in mind I am working two years ahead. If you want your poems published, in a specific set, sooner than that, enter one of the competitions. If you’re starting out, take a look at Iota Shots. Or look out for this year’s Poetry Business Competition. Hedge your bets.

Actually, there are lots of lovely people not reading this at all. And they are packing up poems to send to me at this very moment. Sigh. And it is starting to rain.

Meanwhile, I am putting together, in much more cheery mode, pamphlets by Michael Loveday (who edits the splendid little magazine 14), Lydia Fulleylove, who lives beside the sea, and Lorna Dowell, who is an expert on chocolate brazil soft-baked biscuits. I have been communicating with all three for years now, but the first approach from each of them was an unsolicited submission.

That’s why I continue to welcome these – and even to look forward to reading them. In July.

ps If you’ve already sent them, don’t lose sleep over it. Worse things happen at sea.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.