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.
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.
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.
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.