From First Poem to First Book: Keeping Track — Don’t Drop the Ball!

Brief history of juggling

from Notes Toward a History of Juggling, Bandwagon, Vol. 18 No. 2, March-April 1974

 

 

I need to know which poems I sent to which journals, which were rejected and which were accepted. It’s not polite to let an editor spend time reading poems that you’ve already committed to another journal. Record keeping is essential.

I’m going to keep this as simple as I can.  I use a spreadsheet, and some sample entries follow.  If you hate computers, then use index cards, notebooks, or whatever works for you.

In my sample records below, a poem title in red+strikethrough means I withdrew the poem; plain red means the poem was rejected; green means it was accepted for publication.  Click on the image to enlarge it.

 

SS excerpt

 

I kept track of everything until I knew which details were the ones I needed.  I now include the following details when relevant, in addition to what you see in the example:

1. How did I send the poem — as an attachment to an email, in the body of an email, by snailmail or online submissions manager (such as Submittable)?  I’ll need this information if I need to withdraw one or more poems from consideration because they were accepted by another journal.

2. If I sent the poem by snailmail, I record the address.
  If a password was required at a publisher’s website, I record it for future communications or later submissions.
  If I know the name of the editor or other staff member I sent the poem to, I record that.

3. Since I often revise poems I once believed were finished (that’s a good thing), which version did I send?

4. Was there a useful comment from the editor, such as, “We will be happy to publish your poem and we particularly liked the last two lines”?

5. On what date will I be able to submit to that journal again? (The interval they allow can usually be found in the submission guidelines.)

6. Did I withdraw a poem from consideration because a different journal accepted it first?  When?

7. Were there any other communications with the editorial staff (like correcting a critical typo)?

 

Next we’ll talk about how to narrow your focus, sending your poems to the journals most likely to appreciate them.

—Jeremy

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