How to Get Started Submitting Your Work to Publishers and Magazines

If you’d like to start submissions, I recommend first getting organized. People have different methods, but I prefer to use folders on my jumpdrive combined with an excel sheet for organization.

On my jumpdrive, I have my “writing” folder, then separate that by genre, then separate that by “to be submitted” and “published” (the published ones I further subdivide into which books they go with).

Of course, you can keep your poems hand written and shoved in a junk drawer a’la Emily Dickinson–to each her own!

The excel sheet (which I keep on Google Sheets) has various tabs–

  1. a tab for current poems out on submission (each row lists the poems I sent, then the journal I sent them to, then what date I sent them). As I get rejected, I move the submission row down to the bottom of the list (behind the “rejection line of gray”). Maybe you want to move them to another tab. I think it is useful to keep track of poems you sent to a journal so you can make sure not to send them the same poems twice.
  2. a tab for journals I’d like to publish in (just a list)
  3. a tab for publications (another list, separated by year)
  4. a tab for book submissions (similar to the first tab, separated by books)
  5. a tab for money I’ve made from publications (I like to keep this account so I don’t feel guilty submitting to contests)
  6. a list of book reviewers

Admittedly, mine is not the cleanest and simplest method–I’ve also been using it for at least a decade.

The main takeaway is this: do you know where your poems are?

Because it is professional to know that kind of stuff. It keeps you from making mistakes that are annoying for journal editors (like not withdrawing a poem from consideration after it was accepted elsewhere).

It may seem like a lot of work at first, but setting up some sort of organizational system will pay off in the long run!


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