When someone says, I'm working on my manuscript, what does that really mean?

My first thought when anyone says that is: So what. You've just described half of the poets in North America.

With that said, it's time for me to join the other half of the poetry population and actually put together pieces for my first book.

Ten years ago, I graduated from NYU with a degree in one hand, and hopes of a becoming U.S. Poet Laureate in the other. Since that time, I've had a successful career as a writer and editor in marketing, started a family, and published a few poems here and there.

Now, I feel like I'm ready to send out again, and ready to create a book length-manuscript. So I’m curious to see what works, or doesn't work, for you.

1. How many pages (40? 48? 56? 60?) do you feel comfortable calling a manuscript?
2. Do you enter contests to publish manuscripts vs. open calls for manuscripts?
3. What are your general impressions of the submission/publication process for individual poems and/or book length-manuscripts?

Still haven't given up on hopes for Poet Laureate (watch out Ted Kooser!)

*Poem for Poetry Thursday is coming!*


J Malcolm said…
to ask a few questions:
If you decide to go for poetry manuscript contests, (Which I've been doing with no success) then the contest guidelines will be dictate the number of pages. Like 48 to 60, or 60 to 80,
or 30 to 50 pages.
Also, my poetry teacher told me that in order to get a book length manuscript published it needs to contain 10-12 published poems.
Right now that is what I'm working on.
The problem is that some published poems are going to be completely different than other published poems, and so wouldn't fit together in a book. You probably need 15 or 20 published poems so that you can pick 10 that fit well together.
January said…
Good advice. I have about eight poems published, but nothing in the last two years. I did have a prof. who said that your poems should always be out there working for you. So I will probably take stock and start sending out again.

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