Sunday, November 20, 2016
Guest Post: Submitting Manuscripts by Jami Macarty
Jami Macarty's workshop Get It Out: A Writer's Guide to the Submissions of Literary Works for Publication was information-rich and generated more questions for me. So I asked Jami to answer them on this blog and she kindly accepted my invitation.
How many submissions should you send to a publisher per month?
Jami Macarty: Every writer has her own rhythms, preferences, timing, and goals; because of that, there’s no one submission prescription or quota. What I suggest is that a writer figure out if her goal is to publish her work or not. If it is, then I encourage her to take seriously and commit herself to this aspect of her writing life. That’s step one. The second is to set up a submission schedule that suits her writing rhythms, preferences, timing, and goals. The writer might ask herself: what’s realistic and doable? For some writers, what’s realistic may be to submit once per month; for others, it may be one submission per week. The pace and mode of submissions should flow from, rather than dictate, the work. This approach encourages reflexive engagement and a deepening relationship with writing practices, processes, products, and priorities. Love alliteration!
The rule of thumb is that you should send submissions to more than one publisher. Yet some publishers request that you tell them if you are sending simultaneous submissions. Do you think those publishers view simultaneous submissions in a negative light?
Jami Macarty: First, let me speak to the notion that there’s a “rule of thumb” to simultaneously submit your work. The fact is, some publishers accept simultaneous submissions and some do not. It is the responsibility of the writer to understand the difference and to follow the guidelines of each publisher to the letter. Publishers work hard to bring our art to eyes and ears. They deserve respect for simple requests. If a publisher requests that a writer say whether or not the submission is simultaneously submitted, then give that information to the publisher. The fact that publishers make the space for simultaneous submissions is an indication that they are on the side of the writer. Let writers also be on the side of publishers by providing the information requested. Publishers are likely making this request with intentions to bring more and better work to their readers, not to dampen submissions. If they love a short story or poem and have the knowledge that it’s simultaneously submitted, they’re likely to act more quickly to secure the writing. They may also be collecting information about the practices of writers who submit to them in order to access the importance of simultaneous submissions to the submission process. It may be useful to acknowledge that in many fields simultaneous submissions are strictly forbidden.
If a book is out of print should I still mention it in my publishing history? What if it is my only traditionally published book?
Jami Macarty: Yes to both questions. A publication is a publication—and most are hard won over a protracted period of time. Who’s to say when or if something previously published is no longer valid?
A magazine I was published in is no longer circulating should I still mention it in my publishing history?
Jami Macarty: That depends. If you have other magazines/journals to mention, I’d forgo mentioning one that’s no longer circulating. If the magazine/journal is well-known or recently defunct, my inclination is to include it. To me, it’s all about presenting and re-presenting who you are as a writer, artist, professional, etc. Why exclude any tools for doing so?
Should I include credit for nonfiction in my fiction submission?
Jami Macarty: Yes, absolutely. The idea here is for a writer to support herself as a writer and an artist. To think holistically, to be inclusive of herself, and to share the whole of herself and her artistic accomplishments with a would-be publisher. Let a writer’s biography include all that she writes—whether fiction, nonfiction, poetry, reviews, a blog, etc., as well as other artistic pursuits, e.g. photography, illustration, painting, musical and expressive arts endeavors, etc. All human gems have numerous facets and we cannot know which will sparkle at a given moment.
Thank you for visiting, Jami. Your answers added clarity to my submission plans. I wish you continued success.
Photo by Vincent Wong
Jami Macarty teaches contemporary poetry and creative writing at Simon Fraser University, serves as a Poetry Ambassador for Vancouver's Poet Laureate, edits the online poetry journal The Maynard, and writes Peerings & Hearings--Occasional Musings on Arts in the City of Glass, a blog series for Drunken Boat. Her poems appear, or will, in 2016 issues of Blood Orange Review, The Fiddlehead, Grain, Minola Review, Prism international, Rabbit Catastrophe Review, and Vallum. Also, this good Year of the Monkey, she's been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, won the Real Good Poem Prize, and Landscape of The Wait, her poetry chapbook, has been published with Finishing Line Press.