1. Please read the submission guidelines.  If we say please send three poems or three pieces of art, don’t send five.  Unless you’ve been invited to.  Which means we’ve been communicating with you.
  2. Almost every journal’s website has a masthead.  Either address your submission “Dear Editors” or get our names right.  Please.
  3. Don’t shotgun out your submissions.  Do not address your submission to multiple journals, even if each of them takes simultaneous submissions.  At least give us the impression that ours is the only submission you are sending.
  4. Please send a professional, third-person bio.  Unless you are specifically asked for a “fun” or “funny” one.  Seriously, unless we want to know that you write poetry at 4am with your cat draped over your purple monitor, please…prizes, publications, where you teach (if you teach).  And you don’t have to list every publication credit since 1982.  You can edit them.
  5. To the best of your ability, please proofread your work.  I have done it – read a poem of mine over and over and oh my God over and miss that I didn’t put a period at the end.  Or that I continually want to spell “Morse Code” incorrectly.  Sometimes it happens and most of the time we will catch it for you.  Please make sure this is a rare occurrence
  6. Make sure your submission matches the aesthetics of the journal to which you are submitting.  And if there’s a theme…sometimes they want 100% of the submissions on theme and sometimes not.  The submission guidelines should spell that out.
  7. If you rhyme…make sure every time that it is subtle and smart.  Unless it is a form with rhyme or repetition, or appropriate for that particular journal.
  8. If we say “no longer than 20 lines” or 30 lines or 36 lines please respect that.  It is a space limitation, more common with print journals than online.  It will be a rare exception that we make if your poem is longer and we accept it.
  9. I have things that make me stop reading almost immediately.  Please don’t send me a poem with the words “vomit”, “nipples”, almost anything about the moon unless it’s gorgeous, “Humpty Dumpty” (I got one, I swear), diary entries, 12-syllable scientific terms just to prove you are smart, centered text like a greeting card, poems with obvious “wrapped-up” endings, and poems with lots and lots of conjecture.  I use question marks myself, but only occasionally.  I’m not a fan of the poem going “off camera” to talk to the reader.
  10. Most of all, this is only MY opinion.  There is a place for everyone’s  work. You just need to look for it.  You write for a reason.  Don’t let me, or any other editor, take that away from you.   Your poems will find a home.

 

Tobi Cogswell is a two-time Pushcart nominee.  She is not funny.  She does not have a purple monitor, a cat, nor does she write at 4am.  She is the co-editor of San Pedro River Review, www.sprreview.com.

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One Response to “Every Editor has Quirks…”

  1. Fabulous, Tobi. This is the Holy Grail (not Morse Code) for writers. #9 was my favorite. :)

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