Poetry Submissions-Part 3: Getting Organized

You have been writing poems for years–on scrap pieces of papers, in old half-used notebooks, on the back of cash register receipts, or even on bank deposit slips. Gather them and get ready to organize! Type them into a word document titled “My Poems” and follow the advice below.

1. List your titles alphabetically

It takes a lot of time to get organized! Be sure to make an alphabetical list of your works. I use a spreadsheet, Microsoft Excel. Make a separate list for each category if you write in more than one genre, such as essays or fiction. You can use the sheet tab at the bottom of the spreadsheet to do this, or just make a separate spreadsheet. In the column after each title, type where it is currently submitted and where it was rejected or accepted (if anywhere). This will prevent you from sending it to the same publication twice! When you resubmit you can move the “where” to the third column and put the current submission place in the second column. I like to use a green font for the title of the poem if it is currently under consideration somewhere, and change it to blue if it is rejected and has not been resubmitted, and fuchsia for accepted. This lets me scan through the titles quickly when I am looking for a poem to submit. Another option is to have a column for the category of the poem, such as “experimental form” or “religious.”

2. Word docs by subject for your poems

I make word docs by subject in which I have the entire poem, for example, “Love poems” or “Fantasy/Sci-fi/Horror Poems.”  These are for finished and ready to submit poems. I have another document for poems I am working on titled “Poems in Progress.” Be sure you have typed it in Times New Roman 12 point, no bold print, title centered, as this is the most commonly accepted format. When you submit you can pull up your category and copy paste into your submission letter or email. Change the format/type font to whatever the guidelines detail for that particular publication. Easy.

3. Make a spreadsheet for submissions

I also have a spreadsheet for submissions. I write the name of the publication where I made a submission in the  first column, then the title of poem in the next, the date sent, date due, when they will notify, when it would be published, pay, or free copies, if any, and the cost of submitting (stamps, envelopes, fees). That is a good way to see if you are making a profit (yes, I’m laughing). I also use colored fonts–black for those I know I want to submit, red for due very soon, green for currently under consideration, change to fuchsia if they are accepted. For sim-subs I highlight the titles  in a pale aqua. I move the rejected entries to sheet #2 (bottom tab) and use a blue font. I don’t want to see those, it’s depressing. But I keep the accepted ones on the first sheet for encouragement!

4. Word docs in folders for submissions

When you make a submission, even if it is sent by email, you should have the cover letter and the poems in a word document. Upon submitting, put the doc in a folder titled “submitted.” If it is rejected, move it to a “rejected” folder, likewise, if it is accepted, move it to an “accepted” folder. Yay! I also have a folder for contracts. You need to keep up with those! Contracts will state when you are allowed to resubmit your work to another publication that accepts previously published work. They usually request that you wait one year after publication, and to credit them for being the first to publish your work. So, when you resubmit you would add “previously published in _________.” There are other ways you can organize and keep up with your submissions. This has worked well for me, however, and doesn’t cost anything!

5. Safeguard your documents!

Since computers are known to crash, you should periodically put these documents on a flash drive. Another good way to be sure you never lose your work is to email the documents to yourself. Gmail is great for doing this.

Please feel free to add your own way of organizing your poetry/stories and how you keep up with submissions! Thanks!


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