Thursday, September 6, 2018

Carrie Clickard: Doing the Submission Shuffle (Part One)




Who's ready to go back to school? 

Back to school isn't just for the kiddos, you know. Us writerly types need instruction and motivation too, so I've brought in my good friend, author and expert rear-kicker Carrie Clickard to do the job.

As a TLD contributor for the last four years, Carrie taught us the ins and outs of writing in rhyme with her Rhyme Crime Investigation series. She was also featured as a spotlight author and shared some jinxes, hexes, and curses just for fun. Now she feels we're ready to tackle the serious business of taking ourselves seriously as writers—by submitting our work.

When Carrie approached me with this topic, I thought it was a fabulous idea, but probably too much for just one post. As a result, she's gone above and beyond, offering a two-part series that's chock full of useful information and helpful resources. Today we begin with part one of Doing the Submission Shuffle.

Get out your planners and pencils, folks, class is in session!


Doing the Submission Shuffle (Part One)

I’m going to do it.  I’m going to use the dreaded “S” word.  In fact I’m going to use it all over this post. So gird your loins, poets. It’s time to set aside your quill pen and hand-crafted leather journal and get down and dirty with submissions, submissions, submissions.



If you’re like most writers, it’s a horrible thing, this idea of treating poetry as a business.  Hawking your lovingly crafted words from editor to editor makes you cringe.  You feel like one of those kids selling raffle tickets outside the grocery store where no one meets their eyes. What if they don’t like it? What if they say something horrible?  The very idea makes you want to



Agreed.  It’s a much more comfy world when we only share our gems with friends, crit buddies and knowledgeable, appreciative family. It’s not about the money anyway, it’s about expressing ourselves. Besides, who wants to spend time finding the right markets, and perfect the cover letter, and all that (shudder) noncreative time-sucking organization when we could be writing?  WE DO.  Because deep inside we want our art to be loved, almost as badly as we want to be loved.  We want every reader... er... editor to say:



Now if you truly don’t ever want to see your poetry between the covers of a magazine, anthology or book, you can stop reading right here.  We’ll wait while you collect your things.



Ok. Now, for the rest of us who crave that moment of OH-MY-GOD-THE-EDITOR-SAID-YES!!! My poem’s going to be PUBLISHED!! this post is for you.  We’re going to share some tools that will make choosing where to submit your poetry easier and hopefully more effective.  Let’s get to work.


Where do I start?

Whether you have a stockpile of poems looking for a good home or you’re willing to write specifically for open markets, the first thing you need to know is who is out there publishing what.  Then you can match your whats to their who-ses.  And if you are anything like me, plowing through hundreds of 2005 deadlines and defunct publications in Google or Yahoo search results can end up in



We all get to that space sometime during the submission journey, but let’s put it off as long as possible.  Thankfully, some clever online people have already done part of our work. We just have to pick out the tools that sound best and make them work for us.


Printed reference books & writing magazines

I’m going to assume most readers of this blog are pretty online savvy creatures. But if any of you out there crave real books you can mark up with highlighters, paperclip or dog-ear to your heart’s delight—don’t despair.  The Children’s Writers & Illustrators Market guide and The Poet’s Market are put out yearly in print and ebook format. Both are great sources of info, well organized, especially if you use the searchable ebook version. Poets & Writers Magazine is another great monthly source of publishing opportunities. It has a section for writing contests, grants and other publishing opportunities in every issue. (It’s online too, shhhhh!) You may be lucky and find copies of all three at your local library—if not, then your favorite bookstore.


Resources from writer groups

Many writer organizations and groups, like SCBWI, maintain printable and searchable lists of open markets—usually alphabetically and sometimes by genre. Some of these are reserved perks for members, some are publicly available. All of these can be great for general browsing and long term planning, but I find them a little less effective when I want to pinpoint specific subject or genre markets for those high gear all-my-subs-done-in-one-day sessions.


Submission aggregators online

Warning, click-addictive material ahead. If you’re not already using them, once you try out submission aggregating sites like Duotrope, The Submission Grinder, and Submittable’s new “Discover Opportunities,” you’ll find yourself surfing there all the time. They’ve done a lot of the legwork creating convenient databases of magazines, ezines, literary journals, anthologies and chapbook publishers you can search. 

All three of these sites give you a wide selection of poetry, fiction and non-fiction markets, the ability to search those markets based on genre/pay/fees/etc, and also tools to track your personal submissions onsite, should you choose to do so. Though there is a wide overlap, not all markets are listed with all three, so it can pay to visit all of them. Duotrope also has a newsletter you can subscribe to that delivers upcoming deadlines directly to your email.

To their credit and your potential addiction,  Duotrope and The Submission Grinder also let you see daily lists of recent responses from real life users, both acceptances and rejections. The Sub Grinder even gives you comparison charts for each market’s turnaround times—so you can obsess while you wait for email responses. Sure you’ll go there first with a stack of poems, seeking good matches to any open submission calls. But then you’ll find yourself clicking through just in case an anthology was posted that’s perfect for your yoga-goat sonnet. Or to find out if any adult reader publications actually pay for metered rhyme. (Rare as unicorns, but they do exist.)  Or to check if anybody else got a response from that #$!%# magazine that’s been thinking about your awesome villanelle for 10 months now.



None of the three is strong in tracking children’s poetry market responses currently. Most of the users are focused on subbing work for adults. So you don’t get the obsessive charts, but all the major kidlit players are listed, like the Highlights magazine family and Cricket Media’s mags. If you need kidlit magazine response times, try the market response listings on SCBWI’s Blueboard.

The major difference to most users at present is that Duotrope charges a $5 monthly or $50 annual fee—while the other two are free. Duotrope does give new registrants a one-time 7-day free trial, which should let you determine whether the fees are worthwhile for your particular needs.

There are lots of other online resources you can search (bloggers, forums, social media) and we’ll cover those next week in Part Two, along with some tips on how to track what you’ve sent where.

In the meantime, get out there and sub those poems!


Wait ... what? Not quite ready to shove your babies out in the harsh, cold light of professional poetry markets?  OK. My bad.

Here’s an alternative. Before we measure ourselves against the big scary markets, how about we try sharing our poetry with a friendly online group of fellow poets? Think of it as a dress-rehearsal.  There are several warm and welcoming groups out there you can submit to. You won’t be getting national kudos (or even paid) but you'll get valuable practice writing and sharing your poems in a safe space, and sometimes you'll get a little feedback or other incentive. You might even end up with a poem that you can submit to a poetry market later! But a word of caution: some markets do not accept work that has been previously published on blogs. Always read submission guidelines, TWICE.

Here are a few poetry sharing groups and forums we can personally recommend:

  • Poetry Friday—become a regular visitor to this weekly roundup of poetry offerings and you'll undoubtedly find invitations to share your own poems on a variety of blogs—especially during April (National Poetry Month), but throughout the year as well. You might even consider starting your own blog to share your work!

If we’ve missed one of your favorites, or you have something else to share, please chime in with a comment. Thanks for joining us today and stop back next week for part two of Doing the Submission Shuffle.

Oh, we'll be there, Carrie! 
I hope you'll join me in thanking Carrie for all the terrific information so far. Wait till you see what she has lined up for next week!


Carrie L. Clickard is an internationally published author and poet, with books published by Simon & Schuster, Holiday House and Flashlight Press.  Look for her latest rhyming picture book from Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, Thomas Jefferson and the Mammoth Hunt: The True Story of the Quest for America's Biggest Bones, on January 1, 2019. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and periodicals as well, including Spider, Muse, Highlights, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Havok, Myriad Lands, Clubhouse, Spellbound, Penumbra, Haiku of the Dead, and Underneath the Juniper Tree.
If you missed last week's interview with Naomi Shihab Nye, her DMC challenge for September is to write a letter to yourself in which you ask some questions that you don't have to answer. We've gotten off to a great start, featuring daily ditties this week by Diane Mayr, Rebekah Hoeft, and Jessica Bigi. Post your poem on our September 2018 padlet.

This week's Poetry Friday roundup is being hosted by Carol Varsalona at Beyond LiteracyLink.  Her "Art of Summering" gallery is nearly ready for its unveiling!






58 comments:

  1. Thank you, Carrie & Michelle! Getting a YES from an editor does make all the trouble worth it, doesn't it? And Poetry Friday community is THE BEST. Such a warm, encouraging place to share ourselves and our words. Thank you! xo

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    1. Exactly! Who needs endorphins when you can get a poetry publishing rush instead? :)

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  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Michelle AND carrie. One of my goals (that I admit to dragging my feet on) is to start submitting. Now I have now excuses for not knowing where to look. I'm looking forward to part 2!

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    1. Another place to submit is George Ella Lyon's Where I'm From project. When I'm back at my computer, I'll get the links.

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    2. That's me this year - one brave submitting deed a day! See you in the slush piles. (grin)

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    3. And thanks for sharing the opportunity!

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    4. Great suggestion, Kay! I think this might be the link you were looking for: https://iamfromproject.com/ Good luck with your submissions!

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    5. Yep, that's the website. And here's the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/iamfromproject/

      And I'm thrilled to say I finally got up the nerve to send my poem...and it's now on both their website and Facebook page with many other wonderful poems.

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    6. Woohoo!!! That's awesome, Kay! :D I'm proud of you.

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    1. Happy to share - the world needs more poetry!

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  4. Thanks for the info & encouragement! Yes, this is a good time to get back to submitting. This is helpful!

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    1. Ever since my school days September makes me craves crisp clean notebooks and pencil boxes --- so now instead, it's submission organizing. Grin.

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  5. Really loved and need this!!! Thanks so much. I also love that mug - do you know where I can order one?

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    1. I will defer to Michelle on the mug ...? I wouldnt mind having one of my own.

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    2. I did see a similar one on Etsy ... not quite the same mug style https://www.etsy.com/listing/477985660/write-revise-submit-repeat-academic?gpla=1&gao=1&utm_campaign=shopping_us_ElevateAndFly_sfc_osa&utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=google&utm_custom1=0&utm_content=13216403&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIocTo86Wp3QIVw7fACh3epw82EAQYASABEgJZq_D_BwE

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    3. Hey Vicki. I found the mug photo on Pinterest. Evidently it once was available on Etsy, but no longer. The link Carrie provided is a black and white version that's currently available, and here's one with a flower print: https://www.etsy.com/listing/579667866/flower-print-academic-mug-writer-write?ref=related-1

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    4. Thanks Michelle - I’ll try to find it!

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    5. Found it Michelle - it’s so cute though a little pricey with the shipping! But ... hoping it will be a daily reminder of what to do! 📝😬

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    6. You deserve it, Vicki. Besides, all you need is to make one sale and voila! It's paid for. :D

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  6. Finding an agent is the mire I'm currently churning. :-)

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    1. Sending encouragement and virtual chocolate. I know what a roller coaster that can be!

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    2. Hooray! You seem ready. Sending you hopeful thoughts.

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  7. It's a 'wonder' post, Carrie & Michelle. Thanks for the gathering of all that's good & for the encouragement. That's needed, too!

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    1. So true about encouragement -- so many days I need a "no poet left behind" accountability & tough love system. My poodle seconds this.(grin)

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  8. Thanks so much, Carrie and Michelle. I am definitely subbing more now. As confidence grows so does my submission list. And I gain that from friends like Michelle who has been my biggest encourager and cheerleader. What a wonderful post. xoxo

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    1. Michelle and the community she's gathered here are indeed a superb example! We're fortunate and blessed to have her.

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  9. Carrie--two poetry friends have poems in new The Caterpillar. I saw a poem, "The Nothing," also listed in the contents. I assume that's yours--congratulations! And thanks for the nudge toward submitting. My submissions have been few and far between. :-(

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    1. Please see my response to your comment below apparently I can't eat pizza and blog comment simultaneously.

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    2. If I'm not mistaken (correct me if I am, Carrie), that poem was originally inspired by Douglas Florian's "nothing" challenge. Carrie shared it with me but then decided to save it for a paid publication rather than having it featured on TLD. I'm glad she did. :D

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    3. You have the sharpest memory ... that is exactly right. I did it for that challenge and now it has crossed the sea to Ireland. More proof that good things come from Todays Little Ditty!

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  10. Yep that's my little poem, and thanks! I was tickled to discover The Caterpillar recently. Lovely people to deal with.

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  11. Thanks Michelle for inviting me in for another fun afternoon in your comfy poetry nook. And thanks to everyone who chimed in - Looking forward to seeing you all in part 2!

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    1. Oh, but you're the life of the party in this little poetry nook, Carrie! (You bring the best gifs too!) :D

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  12. Such a great resource--I might check some of those lovely links out sometime...when I am organized and ready and have written something spectacular and time allows and nerves allow and the wind is blowing just right..so basically never but hopefully one day! ��

    Thanks, Carrie and Michelle--you're both so supportive and helpful.

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    1. When it's right, you WILL, and you won't look back ... except to wonder what took you so long.

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  13. Some good info here, Carrie & Michelle! Another great resource for finding poetry publishers is this Yahoo! group, which I subscribe to: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/CRWROPPS-B/info;_ylc=X3oDMTJlNDk5ZGhkBF9TAzk3MzU5NzE1BGdycElkAzE2NzA3NjcxBGdycHNwSWQDMTcwNTAxOTUwOQRzZWMDaGRyBHNsawNocGgEc3RpbWUDMTUzNjIzMjk3Mg-- It's mostly adult, non-paying type journals, chapbook contests, etc., but definitely worth subscribing to!

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    1. Excellent! Thanks for sharing it with us, Matt.

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    2. Yes, thank you Matt. Your link reminded me that I attempted to join that Yahoo group years ago, but never received an acceptance (or a rejection either, for that matter). I've just tried again. We'll see if it works this time!

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  14. I have to add to the WOW comments. This is a solid post with great advice. I will definitely be pinning this one and the next to my pinterest board. I liken the submission process to balancing my checkbook. I do know people who enjoy it...but I sure am not one of them. The work involved in "minding the store" is too much for me right now with my other day jobs as Mom and Teacher-Librarian. But, look out...when I'm ready I'm going to have PILES to submit. Thanks for the positive vibes and great info.

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    1. I love the checkbook analogy. Will store it away for future use. Grin. Glad you found it useful.

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  15. Wow. What a brilliant, super useful post. I found myself clicking and coming back and making notes,too. Have bookmarked and will be rereading and getting more of my poems out there very soon. Thanks soooooooo much.

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    1. So glad it gave you something useful. Good luck with your subs!

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  16. Thank you to Carrie and Michelle for the rich amount of information you shared. Like Sally, I had my clicks going. Thanks for the shoutout about my galleries. I love receiving digital inspirations from around the globe. The hard part is organizing them into a cohesive storyline but I do enjoy the task.

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    1. I can imagine it might be occasionally overwhelming, but your end results are well worth it! Food for the eyes, the ears and the imagination! Thanks, Carol.

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    2. "The hard part is organizing them into a cohesive storyline." Yes! I hear ya, Carol... same with my monthly wrap-ups, but I enjoy the challenge too. Guess we both have that editorial gene!

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  17. This is such valuable information! Thanks Carrie and Michelle. There's lots to explore and I'm looking forward to Part 2!

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    1. Thanks Penny! Hope you find next week just as useful.

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  18. Thank you for this post, Carrie and Michelle! There is so much useful information here! The Poetry Friday community is so helpful, nurturing, and supportive!

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    1. I so agree ... the people are warm and the commentary is always welcoming! Thanks for stopping in.

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  19. Supremely timely. Thank you SO much, Carrie and Michelle!

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    1. It's always a pleasure to be here with Michelle and her poetry peeps!

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  20. Thanks Carrie and Michelle for such a thorough and rich collection of links and opportunities for poetry submissions! Great to have more venues out there for this ongoing process. Looking forward to your next installment here Carrie.

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    1. Thanks, Michelle! We got some great links and info lined ip for part 2. See you there!

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  21. Thank you for all the info! off to read pt 2 now!

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