Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dude, Where's My Poem?! Some Musings on Publishing

The challenge of the writer is to develop a commitment to discovery. The poem or story can become the driving force of the process; the writer must then respond to the direction the work will choose for its full manifestation. The writer and the writing change places in navigation to the final work. This is the beauty and creative opportunity in revision.

The final goal is publication, first in journal form, then book. Inclusion in quality anthologies is also quite important. Each time we see our names in print, our poems or stories on pages with others, we get a thrill. It feels "important." We want to see it often.

When we are new to publishing, there are many questions. The world of publishing for fiction is much different from that of poetry, or so it seems to this poet. These comments will mostly relate to my experience with poetry and publication.

Wherever a writer considers submitting work, it is tremendously important to be familiar with the journal selected for the work. It is also extremely important to read the guidelines for submission very carefully and follow the rules fully.

On-Line Publication

One frequent question is that of on-line publication vs. print. I was asked recently to articulate my thoughts on this subject. I will paraphrase my responses:

A decade ago, on-line publication was less prestigious. That perception persists; therefore; when an editor picks my poem for print, which is expensive, it seems a greater investment in my work. But if someone expresses confidence in my work by posting to a literary web site or even a blog, if it is someone I trust and/or respect, I want to see the poem reach an audience.

To me, connecting with viable readers is my goal. If I have the opportunity of reaching maybe 250 - 300 readers in a print journal or 1,000 readers on line, I may just opt for the greater readership. Although we want to develop a list of publication credits that is respectable, diverse, and reflects print journals that have invested in our work, we also want to get our work to a large and diverse readership.

So my questions to myself include:

**Whose site is it? Someone I respect or a journal that has an on-line presence in addition to print?

**If it is a blog, whose blog? There are blogs with thousands of regular readers, just as Garrison Keillor has millions of listeners to his NPR program on poetry and Prairie Home Companion. Will I have more eyes on my poem here than in the Asheville Poetry Review or the Cincinnati Review, for instance?

**Is this person's market the appropriate one for my work? Will those reading the poem be as interested in what I am offering as much as the editor or blogger?

Many on-line publications are highly respected so there is no longer the stigma that existed earlier in the history of the internet. So each poet must decide for him/herself which direction to go. Either is honorable. There may also be a question of immediate publication rather than dealing with the process of sending work out to a journal, waiting for response, and maybe having to send it out someplace else.

Georgia Popoff teaches at the DWC and has had many poems published both on line and in print.

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