I was thinking today about submissions, of which I have a heck of a lot out right now, mostly stuff from the new manuscript, plus some random odd poems I’ve written for whatever reason. All of it, I’ve been sending right back out as soon as it comes back to me, but realized I’ve completely moved back almost entirely to submitting to online journals (or at least print journals that take online subs). Part of it is time, I think, the ease of cutting and pasting and sending vs. creating a word document, printing it out, finding envelopes/stamps, getting it in the mail, and then trying to keep track of what’s where and whatnot. With e-mail subs, I simply keep a copy in a folder which already has all the info I need. But the more I think about it, I’ve become convinced that really, in terms of getting your work out to the audience, an online medium is far more efficient. Also the most immediate.
It may just be me, certainly, but with a couple exceptions, I don’t really read a lot of print journals. Lots of books and chapbooks, but I’m not a big periodical person in general (this includes magazines of any ilk). I will read what I get as contributors copies or things people give me, but usually I’ll probably just skim through for authors I recognize and already like. I rarely devour them cover to cover. Maybe it’s just the issue of modern technology. I spend a lot of time in front of my computer, necessitated by work and editing stuff, so I’m more apt to read online publications than I am print. I can find any journal I want and read it cover to cover (so to speak) with not too much time and effort-- in finding it, affording it, obtaining a copy, etc.
So, for me, and for other readers who I know are just like me, online media seems a better economy (of time, energy. money) than print journals. I DO still like print journals—especially pretty well-designed ones who publish authors I love-- but as a whole, online media just makes more sense. And it is, admittedly, where I started out publishing the bulk of my work, where I somehow gained a bit of audience. Sometimes a print publication is like a dime dropped into the grand canyon. Who knows if anyone is reading it. But I get quite a lot of feedback from online publication readers—both good and bad. Poetry, at least more so than long eye-straining paragraphs of fiction, seems well suited to electronic page viewing.
As I’ve talked about before, I also think online journals, because of academic cronyism and the mass of publish or perish glutting the print world, are more open to new authors and slightly less conventional work. I think I tend to slip through a lot of cracks based on what feedback I’ve gotten from rejections—not straight-laced enough to be tradition and not avant-garde enough to be “experimental,” whatever that means. And I tend to write poems that fall anywhere on that continuum, so even I sometimes don’t know where to send things.
I’ve also had this increasing resistance to the publications where I’m supposedly supposed to WANT to publish. The idea that there is one path to being a “legitimate” poet. Seriously, I stopped submitting to the New Yorker and the Atlantic Monthly around the time I realized there were more ads for luxury cars in both than there were poems. Other places, the academic heavyweights like Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, Pleaides etc. tend to publish 90% of the time vapid, vanilla, bourgeois slice of life boring stuff, or at least what I’ve gleaned from reading their selections on the Dailies (Verse and Poetry). Also my slight anti-academic stance (I’m a hypocrite, I know) slightly influences my dislike of these. Even the academics that tend to publish daring, more interesting work like Black Warrior, Jubilat, Denver Quarterly, Gulf Coast seem very closed shop if you aren’t in the right circles.
Now, of course, there’s lots of little indie journals I love, to submit to, to read when I get my hands on a copy. You’ll find most of those in the links to the left, but mostly it’s online publications. In addition to all of this, my tendency may also subconsciously or consciously, be a big fuck-you to the establishment that says online journals are inferior somehow, that they don’t count, that they’re easier to get into and therefore lesser important. And as someone very protective of online publishing, perhaps I SHOULD definitely be sending my work largely to electronic journals.