Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Plans Derailed (for Happy Reasons)

81 deg ~ on the way to 90 in a few short hours, strong breeze dismantling the last of the flowers on our scrubby trees of indeterminate variety

Big plans to actually start drafting new poems today were derailed by a surprise happy email last night.  Jacque Day, the Assistant Managing Editor of New Madrid, emailed to let me know that they would like to publish all four poems I submitted back in March.  Wow.  I would have been happy to have one poem in this great journal; however, with all four set to appear in the next issue, I'm thrilled!  

So this was a happy derailment.  I spent the morning sending out a few withdrawal notices and cleaning up some records for submissions, which led me to having to clean up my manuscript b/c I hadn't kept up with the acknowledgments. 

For those of you wondering about my drafting process, the whole one-a-week draft got knocked off course by the semester's end.  It usually takes me a few days to transition to a new schedule.  However, rest assured, Dear Reader, I'm filled with energy, words, and hope. 

Now, to a question that has begun to plague me.  I've asked others about this on their blogs or in emails, but I'm hoping to get some more answers. 

Can one publish too many of the poems in a manuscript that is currently looking for a publisher?  Can one be over-exposed in the lit mags? 

Yes, the question seems a bit hilarious to me, but someone, somewhere mentioned to me that publishers might turn down a book where too many individual poems had already appeared and now I'm a bit freaked out.  At the U of Arkansas, we were simply told to get the poems out there and into the lit mags and that this would help us build a reputation and may help us land a book with a publisher.  Whoever started me thinking about this mentioned the figure of 70%...that a poet should stop publishing individual poems when 70% of the book was out there.  If you've followed this blog for long, you know I have a bit of the accountant in me (thanks, Mom!), so I actually love to crunch the numbers.  This can be dangerous, as my current freak out displays. 

It seems to me that the book as a collection is something entirely other than just a string of poems, that there needs to be some kind of connective tissue holding it all together and that a reader can't get that from randomly reading individual poems in journals. 


By the way, I am in no way looking the gift horse of this acceptance in the mouth.  I'm doing my happy dance all the way to the grocery store!


Anonymous said...

Excellent! Wow! Congratulations!

And I think you could have every single poem in the collection taken by a journal, a publisher would be nothing but pleased to be putting out a book by a poet with a proven track record who's done her utmost to build a readership. A single collection is a very different animal from a stack of journals.

At this rate, your second MS could be picked up at any minute!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Oh, M., from your lips to the muse's ear! The rejection slips for the book have been piling up in slow drifts.

Kristin said...

I agree that the more exposure, the better. I imagine publishers saying, "Oh, good, I'm not the only one who likes these poems" or "Oh, good, more ways to market the book." I see poems as early advertisements for the book, ways to whet the readers' appetites for more.

My goal has always been to get as many of the poems in the manuscript published in literary magazines as possible.

When my chapbook was accepted, only a few poems had previous publications, and I felt bad for the unpublished ones, since they'd only get one chance to shine, one chance to attract readers.

Congrats on the multiple poem submission!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks, K. I know how it is about feeling for the poems that don't find a place in the lit mags. There were one or two from Blood Almanac that I was sure must feel like the wall flowers at the high school dance. :-)

Anne said...

Congrats on New Madrid! They just took one of mine as well, and I've been very pleased with the level of communication I've had from them - double checking my bio, sending proofs, etc. Not all editors are as thorough.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Yay, Anne! Yes, the editors are fantastic. Glad we'll be there together.