Saturday, 10 September 2016

Two essential publications for writers

I recently finished reading How (Not) to Get Your Poetry Published by Helena Nelson (HappenStance Press). This was quite an eye opener on to the world of poetry publishing. I wish I'd known all this years ago. I could have saved myself the trouble of submitting to magazines I'd no chance of getting into. It's all about having a track record. Without it you will probably never get a pamphlet published, let alone a collection. If you are starting out in your poetry writing, or have been going a while with no luck, read this book now!

The book covers everything you need to know even asking the question 'why do you write?' Many small press magazines and publishers struggle to get their publications out there (there are more writers than readers of poetry). They often run at a loss and are overwhelmed with submissions. As writers we should do our bit and support them, Find a publication you like and subscribe. At least buy one copy of one or two to see what they are publishing. Would your work fit into it?

Chapters cover the issue of sending poetry to magazines, social media, putting a collection together, approaching publishers and self publishing. Each chapter has a case study and writing exercise. At the back of the book are worksheets. One of the worksheets asks you to name the editor of as many of the listed publications as you can. Er....toughie. I think I knew two, and the list wasn't exhaustive. It brought it home to me how little I knew these presses, though I had been on many of the websites. I had failed in my homework.

While I learnt a lot from this book I found the prospect of getting published in a good literary magazine further away than ever. It seems almost impossible. However, armed with this information I at least know more what to do in my approach. I highly recommend this book. It is essential reading for all poets.

The second book I have been devouring is the  Mslexia Indie Presses 2016/17 - a guide to who is who and what they publish. This wonderful guide is split into three parts - Book Publishers, Literary Magazine and e-zines and Competitions. There are sub divisions like mixed form publication, poetry only and prose only. The book lists contact details, genre, submissions, what the publication says and what Mslexia says (of those they were able to (a) get a response from and/or (b) read a print copy or online copy of their publication).

This is an invaluable guide containing hundreds of publications you could be submitting to. Of course publications come and go. Some have been going for decades, others a few months. By the time you get to look them up one or two may have folded. That's the world of Indie publication.

Today I have been delving into the world of mixed form publication, doing my research. I've sent for a copy of one magazine, signed up to couple of others so I can keep up to date with them. I've found out which ones have their submission window open and which ones are currently closed. This is £12.99 worth spent and will be my constant companion as I look for outlets for my work. If you think you have exhausted the publications available, you haven't. Lay down your cash now. it will be the best investment you have made this year.

1 comment:

  1. I subscribe to the Mslexia magazine but with all magazines I read ad hoc and often find I have missed interesting articles and or competitions! Working on a novel and sending off children's stories to publishers and short stories to other magazines doesn't leave a lot of time for competitions.