Four-Minute Response to the Question “How Do You Get Published?”
I’m not E. L. James, J.K. Rowling, or even Stephen King. Sorry. I haven’t yet signed a contract for my debut book of poetry “Songs to Sing in a Getaway Car.” But I have published 50 poems, numerous essays and blog posts, albums, a comic book with Matt Kindt, and a few apps with Dan McKenzie in the past couple of years, not to mention the dozens of press releases that turned into stories about. So I have been up to something. After this interview at Squalorly (http://www.squalorly.com/interview/discussion-jason-braun) people have started asking me about how to get published. Here is the short answer: Read deeply in the subject you want to write, write a lot, then submit a lot.
If you are convinced, then go do it now! If you are angry or bored I hope you have a great day anyway. If you’d like an explanation, then we’ll keep going.
As some of you know I have dyslexia and ADD. Spelling doesn’t come naturally to me. Yet editors, publishers, and readers like to read words spelled correctly. This is one of the reasons I created homophonecheck.com with Dan McKenzie’s help. When I’m writing poems I tune into the sounds of words so much so that spelling goes out the window.
Homophones can make a poem more interesting, yet when it is written down as opposed to being recited, the poet has to choose which word he or she wants to use primarily. The point is: check your spelling. Most of what I’ve published has been looked over by someone else. Sometimes the editors at the magazines catch an error and like the poem enough to correct it. I’ve got a few publishing credits though. They probably wouldn’t read something all the way through if I was just starting out and had jacked up spelling. This is the small stuff. If you need an editor check out one of these two guys, I vouch for them:
Kevin Eagan at http://kevinthomaseagan.com/
Andrew Doty at http://www.editwright.com/
The real key is to submit a massive of work! I’m talking about the power of large numbers. In the past two year’s I’ve submitted over a hundred packets of poems to various places. Submitting a massive amount of work is easier when you have a lot of poems. I’ve been writing a poem a day for over two years now.
You might say, well it is easy to submit a lot of poems if you have a lot of them. What’s stopping you from doing this? Who among us can’t fit time in their day to write a haiku?
Some days all I write is a haiku. I’m not looking down on the haiku. A lot of times it ends up a better poem than one I labor over for hours. Every day I’m checking in. Everyday I’m reminding myself that yes, I am a writer. Today I have over 822 poems totaling (72,727 words) that aren’t in my manuscript or published individually. I haven’t sent many of these ones out yet. But this starts with writing just one.
I thought I’d need to do more smoozing and handshaking. But I’ve published very little through that method. Not that it couldn’t work. To be honest, the fact that I am (or was) an Editor at Sou’wester (http://souwester.org/) helped tremendously. For one, it gave me a little credibility. Also I read a hell of a lot of unpublished poems about barns, penises, Thor, and even hate-filled Nazi collage pieces. I have an idea what an editor might look for. But I get a lot of rejections.
If you still want to know more about publishing check out my friend Jane Friedman’s blog. http://janefriedman.com/blog/