Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Simultaneous Submissions and Their Rewards

A conversation at a writer's group brought to memory this article by Michael P. Kardos. While some of the sarcasm is palpable, Kardos does ask an important question: What are the ethics of accepting or refusing to accept simultaneous submissions?

I think this all the more valuable for poets because it seems that in MFA programs, for every one prose writer, there are at least half a dozen eager poets, all competing for those same magazine slots against all the other MFA authors, teachers, etc. I'm going to challenge Kardos, and argue that for poetry--good poetry--it's still only a 1% chance that a good poem makes it into a magazine. This seems to be true from my editorial experiences, but also acknowledges what many of the entries in Poet's Market write.

If I'm doing my math right, it'll look like this:

.99x = .01
log (.99)x = log (.01)
X log (.99) = log (.01)
X log (.99)/log (.99) = log (.01)/log (.99)
log (.99) log (.99)
X = log (.01)/log (.99)
X = 458.2 submissions

I'll round it down to 458, just to be optimistic, but assuming that there's a three month response time, and that most academic magazines only accept submissions within a semester, we're looking at 229 YEARS before a poem would be accepted. If we assume a three month response time, average, and find magazines continually that accept during Summer months, it's only 114 or so years--FOR ONE POEM TO GUARANTEE ACCEPTANCE!

I don't even know if there are this many academic magazines in the world, but the options seem pretty straight forward:

  • Write the best damn poems you can, and pray
  • Ignore academia and go the indie route, which may or may not affect your potential career as a poet
  • Simultaneously submit anyway, and hope you don't shoot yourself in the foot
  • Submit to only those magazines that accept simultaneous submissions, and pray
None of these are really good options, especially considering the indie route tends to be flooded with such a mixed bag of poetry that even the more reputable presses are sneered at.

Anyway, it'd be interesting to hear your thoughts on this idea.


Anonymous said...

Do Classless' comment count as simultaneous submissions? Seems like he has gotten published here...

Geoffrey A. Landis said...

Most of the academic magazines seem to allow simo submissions, although commercial magazines most certainly do not.
--posts to a blog may or may not count as previous publication.

pottygok said...

As far as academic magazines accepting or not accepting simultaneous publications, I've got a database for my submissions that right now has over 200 magazines and journals in it, and I'm only through Texas in terms of states, alphabetically. If I do a search for magazines that are accepting poems right now, and accepting simultaneous submissions, I get 13 that accept online submissions, and about 40 that accept only paper/snail mail submissions, so roughly about 25%. Again, I'm not through all the states right now, so it may even out in the rest of T through W, but I would argue that "most" might be a bit too optimistic.


The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau