Poetry Submissions-Part 5: Response Times

The Waiting Game. I waited for over a year on an option once; another time I got a response in 2 days. One submission has been out for 9 months and they won’t respond to my query. ??? It all depends on where you send your work, and sometimes, to a much lesser degree, on when you send it. How long until publication? How often does the journal/magazine publish? Where do you find the answer to these questions? Are more publications worthy of waiting for than others?

Statistics of Best American Poetry This book was my Bible for where to submit when I first started making submissions. Now, not so much. Duotrope, Newpages and Poets & Writers are the places I haunt for journals that are better suited for my poetry.

Choosing Where to Submit By Reported Response Times

Here is Jeffrey Bahr’s compilation of Publication Response Times. I often go to Duotrope to check out the latest response times in “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” Now you have to pay to use Duotrope, however. There is so much information at Poets & Writers that I didn’t realize there is an advanced search within Literary Magazines. You can discover the percentage of unsolicited submissions published in each magazine and its circulation. NewPages has a list of literary magazines and gives their response time, publication frequency, as well as many other facts. Here are  Ten Literary Journals that Respond Within a Month.

Is When You Submit a Factor?

Yes! Autumn Sky Poetry offers this advice, “If you don’t want to wait a long time to hear about the status of your submission, send us your poems the last week of the month prior to our issue release. That way you will only have to wait, at most, two weeks. ” Check out when your publication is set to print. How long is that from the deadline to submit? Some take longer than others. Do your research.

Should You Query?

Read the guidelines and see if the publication lists their average response time. Most will even tell you to query if you haven’t heard from them within a certain period of time. It is possible that submissions, or their responses, get lost in the mail or email.  This happened to me twice. You won’t find this out if you don’t query, however. Many places will acknowledge receipt of a submission, but not all. I hate to bug editors and tend to wait out the alloted time. Then I query.

“The Waiting is the Hardest Part,” as Tom Petty sings. But it’s just part of the writing life. Gordon posts that Maybe We Should Just Stop submitting to those journals who seems to take forever responding. Check out Writerly Ways – A Tirade Against Literary Journals  where Ahmed gives four reasons why Literary Journals tick him off. Literary Rejections on Display is a blog with several writers’ veiwpoints on response times, not to mention copies of actual rejections. It’s a place to unload and maybe feel you’re not all alone in Rejection Land.

I hate waiting, but I hate keeping a poem in limbo even worse. My advice is to submit to places that take simultaneous submissions OR places that have a fast response. Then it’s exciting to open your mailbox or email and find out you have an acceptance!


This is Part 5 of a series I started in May. Here is Part I: How.

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