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The Three P’s of Publishing: How to Publish Your Prose and Poetry

Being a writer is hard. Generating ideas and revising those ideas can be very difficult, but what do you do when you want to get that work out into the world? You publish. How do you publish? Where do you publish?

Gulf Stream endeavored to find the answers to those questions during the Publishing Workshop with Julie Marie Wade on January 18th. Wade, a writer and professor of creative writing in the MFA program at Florida International University, gave us her Saturday afternoon as well as a few valuable tips on entering the publishing world.

Julie Marie Wade

Julie Marie Wade

Wade, whose publications include the poetry collections Postage Due (White Pine Press, 2013) and the upcoming When I Was Straight (A Midsummer Night’s Press, 2014) as well as nonfiction books Small Fires (Sarabande Books, 2011) and Tremolo (Bloom Books, 2013), cited the three P’s of Publishing as a framework for approaching the submission process. Patience, perseverance, and practicality must be ever-present in a writer’s quest to become a published author.

Patience

Publishing doesn’t happen overnight. A big part of the process is searching and waiting. Wade advises those who aim to publish to start by researching and surveying the pool.  In order to know where to submit, writers must first know what venues are out there. Finding and reading literary journals whose aesthetics line up with your own is an important step in entering the publishing world. Wade cites Poets & Writers and New Pages as vital resources for writers during this stage and all stages of the publishing process. These websites have relatively comprehensive databases of literary journals, contests, and grants available for writers of all genres. Writers must put in the time to research, and they must stay positive and proactive during the submission process.  “Publishing is about sustainability,” Wade says. The process requires writers to keep up a certain positive momentum as they edge toward that publishing goal.

Perseverance

Slow and steady wins the race—consistent, positive progress will take you a long way in this process. A huge part of attempting to get published is getting rejected. Even an accomplished author like Wade has huge storage bins full of rejection letters and countless stories of how many years it took to finally get published in a certain cherished journal.  Wade urges writers to begin to associate rejection with positivity, because there’s bound to be a lot of it.  She keeps a small silver shoebox of rejections in her office, and when that box fills up, she rewards herself with some sort of treat. This trains Wade’s mind to associate rejection with just another part of the submission process. Being rejected doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer—you don’t know how close you really were to getting published by any given journal.

The key, according to Wade, is to keep going, to always have work in circulation to various journals.

One helpful tool Wade suggests for writers who have a lot of work in circulation is Submittable (link), which is used by quite a few literary journals, including Gulf Stream, as an online submission manager. This site will help you keep your rejections, acceptances, and withdrawals organized, and it’s a good place to start if you don’t know how to make your own spreadsheet of what you have out for consideration.

Practicality

The idea of doing all this submitting is daunting, but once you really think about it and organize your efforts, it’s not so hard. Being practical is very important to any writer who wishes to publish. Realizing just what it will take to begin this submission process—envelopes, polished work, stamps, time, money—will help writers navigate this unpredictable frontier.  Wade allots $100 a month for submissions—that money includes contest entries, reading fees, mailing fees, and anything associated with publishing. Dedicating that money and knowing that you probably won’t see an immediate return on your investment will help to alleviate some of the stress of submitting. If writers go into the process knowing that their reward might be a long way off, it’s not as disappointing and disorienting when rejection happens. And when that reward does come, it can be celebrated as a stand-alone victory, not a necessary, now-I-can-finally-pay-my-rent sort of moment.

Wade educating the masses about the highs and lows of publishing
Wade educating the masses about the highs and lows of publishing

Some writers might wonder why anyone would go through all this trouble—researching journals, reading journals, submitting, getting rejected—when there’s the option of self-publishing or even personal blogging. That’s certainly an option, but, according to Wade, taking that route takes your work out of the larger literary conversation, and, in some cases, makes you ineligible to submit work to literary journals. If you’re a blogger who has published your poems on your website, those pieces are technically published, and therefore ineligible for publication in many literary journals. Self-publishing gives instant gratification, but it also narrows your audience to whomever you’re able to reach with the promotional materials you might have been given by your self-publishing press. If your desire is to be an author whose work reaches a wide audience and who might even be taught in schools across the country, this traditional publishing process is the way to go. It might take some patience, perseverance, and a heavy dose of practicality, but, in the long run, it’s worth it.

If you’re ready to start putting work out there, why not consider submitting to Gulf Stream? Check out our Submissions tab for more details. We’re accepting poetry, fiction, and nonfiction until March 9th, 2014.

Check out Julie Marie Wade’s vast publications and upcoming works at her website. Visit FIU’s MFA program page to learn more. And, as always, keep an eye out for updates from us here at Gulf  Stream.

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One thought on “The Three P’s of Publishing: How to Publish Your Prose and Poetry

  1. Pingback: The Three P’s of Publishing: How to Publish Your Prose and Poetry | sklase

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