Developing a Relationship with a Publication

At AWP, I spoke to an editor from a top journal I had published with years ago. She asked me why hadn't I sent any poems to her publication. I had to stop myself for a minute--good question.Why hadn't I sent any poems to this journal that had previously published not only a poem but an essay. It never occurred to me to send my poems back to the same journal again and again.

When I told her this, she said that's one thing she's noticed over the years: poets and writers do not work to develop relationships with editors and publications anymore. Admittedly, I seek out quantity sometimes over quality. I like publishing my work in various journals, print and online. But the editor had a point. Why not work to develop a rapport with an editor--or a few, for that matter--who will greet my submissions more favorably. I don't think writers have to only send to a few places; on the contrary, we must broaden the net while staying loyal to the publications that have gotten us this far.

As poets trying to carve out careers, the odds are stacked against us--too many of us seeking the same crumbs from the table. But one area in which writers have a clear advantage is the plethora of presses, journals, and zines vehicles to submit work. There's no shortage of places to publish. I know if I get rejected, even by a publisher who has accepted my poems in the past, I will move onto the next indie publication, and the next one after that, and so on.

Tell me, dear reader. Do you send to journals that have published your poems in the past on a regular basis?  Or are you looking for the new next in lit mags? And editors, are you more favorable to certain writers who cultivate a relationship with your publication? Why?


Susan Rich said…
Hi Jan,

Lovely topic! I tend to do a mixture of returning to journals that have published me in the past as well as trying out new journals. It feels good to still be in touch with editors that were willing to take a chance on my work by publishing it 20 years ago when I was just starting out. Amazingly enough, a few of those editors are still there at the same journals. I know I worry that I may be "bothering" these editors if I send too often but I tend to think that every three years is a good measure of time. Sometimes they take the work and sometimes not. However, I almost always receive a personal note from editors who have published me before and to me, that feels good. I know as a new editor at The Human journal, I hope to build relationships with writers. I think that is one of the joys of the job. Hope others respond to this and really hope to see you posting for the Big Poetry Giveaway. It's not too early to post your books and not too early to put your email in to win books!
Annmarie said…
As a writer I submit to journals that feel like good homes to my work and I do tend to go back to places that's proven true. There are some journals that are perfect for one or two of my poems, but not for many more. And whenever I come across a new journal that feels like a fit, I add it to my list.

As an editor, I love when writers I've published submit again. When an editor gets to know a writer's work. she can sometimes find a quick smooth for a rough spot that fits the bill for both writer and editor. Good synergy between a writer and an editor makes the writer's work shine and the journal's pages sparkle. So, yes, writers, I encourage you to build relationships with editors. It benefits us all.
Sandy Longhorn said…
Hey January!
Great topic. I've been guilty of the opposite: "sending too soon." :) That being said, there are a handful of journals that I go back to over and over again, and the editors at those journals still sometimes reject the poems, but they've often taken them as well. And, when they do reject, they are more likely to tell me why!
So, I do send back to journals that have published me, but I'm more careful now to wait a year. :)
Good luck!
Jennifer Jean said…
I'm with you Jan, it never occurred to me that editors wouldn't also be moving on to "the new next." Still, somehow, when I write prose (book reviews, essays, etc. & not my first love poetry) that’s when I've found myself cultivating a relationship with particular journals. Maybe because I've less of a careerist "agenda" with my prose? I can see how a relationship with a journal can be useful in regards to cross promotions--you promote them and they (when relevant—as when a book comes out) promote you. Also, when a journal has an aesthetic or stance that you love/like it’s good to turn to it as a possible home…
January said…
Thanks, everyone, for your responses.

Annemarie, I like what you said about developing synergy between a writer and an editor. It is a mutually beneficial arrangement that can illuminate the poetry and make the journal shine.

Susan, I will check out The Human journal and the Big Poetry Giveaway.

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