summer of submissions: mini-manuscripts

my list of packets or mini-manuscripts

Those of you who’ve been reading along know that I’ve declared this summer to be the Summer of Submissions. Just for fun, let’s call it the S.O.S.

Did you know that S.O.S. doesn’t really stand for anything? It’s just an easily transmitted and identified series of dots and dashes in Morse code (so says wikipedia). Which dovetails nicely with my strategy for submissions this summer — let’s make it as easy as possible to submit poems, so easy that it becomes a habit.

Since last week with it’s zero submissions count wasn’t something to form a habit off of, I decided to do some legwork over the weekend. One of my challenges when it comes to submitting is feeling uncertain about what poems to send to which journal(s). I knew if I could circumvent this challenge, even a little bit, I’d be more likely to submit.

To start with, I took a big stack of work that’s ready (or ready for now) to go out into the world. I made a list of the poems’ titles. From the list of titles, I grouped poems into packets of five that I thought would work well together as “mini-manuscripts.” So, for example, a few packets had groups of mostly illness-related poems; others were mostly devoted to motherhood, or marriage, or landscapes, or coming of age, or domestic settings… you get the idea. In each mini-manuscript, I made sure to include at least 2 or 3 poems that worked together, but also at least one poem that was different enough from the others (in voice, form, subject area) to show breadth and versatility. I also made sure that there was no overlap in the packets (with one or two exceptions) so that sending a follow-up submission would be easy as well — no having to look back to see what I sent last time, just grab the next packet and go.

My list of mini-manuscripts is a beginning point. Some packets will have to be cut down to 3 poems for certain journals in order to meet their guidelines. Others might need a bit of customization — substituting one poem for another, depending on a journal’s aesthetic. I’ll also need to think about which packets are most suitable for the individual journals I’ll be submitting to. But there’s also an element of assembly line here — not because I’m not interested in sending work tailored to a particular journal’s tastes, but because I know I’ll get bogged down in analysis-paralysis if I don’t give myself a good leg up at the start.

So, yes, I’m creating what I hope will be an easily implemented and easily recognized system for submissions so that, one day, I’ll be able to sit down at my desk to work on submissions without feeling overwhelmed, scattered, and compassless.

Stay tuned for more S.O.S. updates — I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, if you have any helpful hints or foolproof systems for submissions, please share them in comments. Thanks!

14 thoughts on “summer of submissions: mini-manuscripts

  1. Analysis- paralysis. Love it. Suffer from it.

    Your plan sounds great, and I don’t think the assembly line approach means you aren’t assessing each journal’s taste. You’ve just lightened the load by working with the packets rather than individual poems. Good luck!

    • Comfort in solidarity, as always… . Yes, I hope this system will do well for me — at least in terms of being a more consistent submitter of poems!

  2. Best of luck with the submission process – and hopefully, the receivers are wise enough to see your talent!

    I wonder if your local library carries any of the publications you’re submitting to. Maybe a little legwork to find out what they go for will help you decide what to submit? There’s a Canadian mag called Prairie Fire but I don’t know if they publish “imports”…

  3. Pingback: S.O.S. week 3 update: going with the flow, giving credit | the stanza

  4. Pingback: organdization: submissions | the stanza

  5. Pingback: one learns to play the harp by playing: on submissions, part two | the stanza

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