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The Importance of a Track Record

Posted by Arc, 3rd September 2015

Are you a poet? Do you want to submit your work for publication? That's great, after all, you've put in the hours and completed tons of drafts. Now you're seeking recognition for the work you have produced. It's time to send it out. Let's not foster illusion. If you're terrified and overwhelmed this probably means you're taking a realistic approach to the publishing industry.

Writing, in itself, is a never ending challenge, and is often accompanied by a flood of rejection slips. Your ego will be shattered throughout this process. But there are positives too. As a writer, you'll be gaining critical experience and building resilience for this seemingly harsh but necessary process. A track record is standard procedure and there's no escaping this fact. But at the beginning the journey is unrewarding. It's difficult to know where to start. Most of the time you'll wonder if the boat is even floating.

So what steps should you take towards publication? Should you approach small press magazines or well-established periodicals? Well, both! Hunt down the right magazines, read their poets, think about the poems and why they appeal to a particular magazine. Look at the way images and words are being used. What makes the poems fit?

The Poetry Library provides a list of upcoming competitions, so befriend courage, and take a chance. Try to be positive about your work. Have fun with it. Join a summer school and meet other writers. We recommend Arvon and The Poetry School who offer some fantastic courses for both advanced poets as well as beginners.

A track record illustrates to a publisher that you're committed to improving your work and developing a readership. It shows that you're willing to take the time to understand the craft as fully as possible. The bottom line is: No publisher will accept a full manuscript without some sort of recognised bibliography and a list of readings and events you have been involved in.

No doubt, this journey is laborious. It requires an incredible amount of stamina, courage and resilience, but most importantly passion and endless enthusiasm.

If you want to arrive at the destination of publication, here are some things to keep in mind:

- Always present your work professionally

- Research submission policies thoroughly.

- If you have a particular publisher in mind, buy some of their books or at least borrow them from the library. This will make the approach a lot easier.

- If you're calling a publisher, always, always, do your research.

- Learn how to take criticism and don't get defensive. (Kill your darlings and all that!)

- Do not be confrontational.

- Try not to be put off by rejections.

- Read voraciously.

- Practise and experiment.

- Keep faith and persevere.

- Love language.

- Befriend courage and stamina.

Good luck and stay positive! We wish you all the best on your journey.

*Just a side note/ gentle reminder, if you're not using electronic devices for correspondence, go no further. Due to time constraints, we cannot accept any hard copy submissions.