If you traffic in poetry, by now you’ve registered with Submittable, the Portal of Hope. It used to be called “Submishmash,” I think, but that unfortunate name was retired by a blender. So the more common-sensical Submittable it is.
For those of us who need order in our disorderly lives, Submittable is a blessing. Of sorts. The good news? It keeps track of what poems went where when, because Odin knows I couldn’t, and my paper system is, to be kind, quixotic.
The bad news, you ask? Not all markets play ball with Submittable. Some stubborn sorts still demand their acronyms: USPS, SASE, P.S.: No email.
Yeah. Those “Last-of-the-Mohican” sorts.
And some take submissions strictly via email. You have the attached tribe and the body-of-the-email tribe.
Others still have their own little Submittable system. Try coming up with a password for each one. And tracking it with your paper system. You will soon become a disciple of the “Forgot Password?” deities.
The increasingly big deal now is reading fees. It’s spreading like kudzu, like peanut butter, like room-temperature butter on sourdough toast. I used to be 100% opposed to reading fees and refuse to submit to any “Evil Empire” that used them to gouge starving (for publication) writers. Now, I’m 90% opposed. For one, the money sometimes goes to paying writers. For their work. Can you imagine? And for another, there’s something to the argument that you used to always spend money anyway–both for the mailing and for the return SASE–so why are you griping now? (Hey, Zeus, but I hate logic in all its majesty.)
Bottom line: Sometimes I pay journals to reject my work (nice business–for them–if you can get it!), but for the most part, I still avoid these fee-fi-fo-fum sorts.
On Submittable, everybody’s favorite is the “Status” column. When you send it in, the light goes on saying “Received.” Good to know. In the old system, the occasional submission wound up behind some credenza at the Topeka Post Office and no status column in hell would tell you as much.
“Received” is a noncommittal blue font. Then there’s the dreaded “In-Progress” in purple. This torture device makes writers believe that there work is now (this very minute) the subject of extended editorial board (as opposed to “bored”) meetings. “Which of these five poems do we want? There’s something to be said for all of them. Now let’s take turns saying those ‘something to be saids.'” That sort of thing. Every day. Marathon sessions, all meaning your work is getting the old, Shakespeare line-by-line scrutiny and is someday destined for the SparkNotes treatment.
Then again, sometimes “In-Progress” is simply “Received” in sheep’s clothing. Meaning: The status could remain “In-Progress” for a full three trimesters, for all you know. A pregnant pause, so to speak.
“Prolonging,” meet “the agony.”
Finally, there are the stop-light status markers. The dreaded red “Declined” and the rare but relished “Accepted” (green relish, to be specific). If I could muster enough “Accepteds” it would give my status column a festive, Christmas look, but it has, over the years, taken on more of a Rudolph glow.
Admittedly, things are looking up of late. I have been making like St. Patrick, wearing more of the green (as long as we’re not talking money, I mean). Perhaps it is the cover letters with notice of other “Accepteds.” Editors are herd (not seen) animals. There’s nothing they like better than the comfort of other editors when it comes to saying, “Yes, this guy is new and good and we’re willing to say I was one of the first to discover him….”
But wait. I’m waxing delusional again (and wishing there was a status marker called “Dreaming”). When I should be writing poetry. To feed to Submittable, the Portal of Hope.
But first, another black coffee. HOT. (You actually have to say that when ordering a cup these days–another sign of the approaching Apocalypse!)