How I Track my Poetry Submissions

I’ve had a couple of new acceptances in the last couple of days – another acceptance for Green Ink Poetry, and a poem in the first edition of Acropolis Journal. Both are online magazines. I’ll share both when they go live, though one is pretty dark – to put it mildly – and will need a trigger warning.

I thought I would use this as an opportunity to share how I track my poetry submissions – it would be great to see what systems other writers use. If you are a writer then let me know what works for you!

I’m submitting on a weekly basis and plan to carry on doing so – with a new collection potentially happening next year it’s fairly important to do so. It’s also great to read the work of other poets and discover new voices that are worth following and looking out for.

It’s also important to read each magazine before submitting anyway – in some cases I’ve felt that the publication isn’t right for my writing, or only potentially suitable for certain poems / styles – Green Ink Poetry for example tends to focus on shorter form poems. I hadn’t picked up on this the first time I sent in a submission, but had realised this by the next time since I actually read the magazine properly! The poem that was successful was one that I sent in specifically because of this.

I’ve also learnt the importance of tracking what you send out – firstly to avoid duplications (some magazines accept simultaneous submissions, some don’t), and also to avoid sending something to the same publication twice, which I almost did today when submitting to Little Stone Magazine. But luckily I had been keeping a record. Here’s a screenshot showing some of this year’s submissions. The greyed out bold entries are successes, the greyed crossed out italicised poems are rejections, and the other ones are active poems.

The magazines are a mix of print and online, brand new and well established publications, that will get anything from a couple of hundred to several thousand submissions per issue. I am absolutely delighted with every acceptance. Every publisher is trying to build credibility and their own magazine presence, so for them to accept one of my poems is a big deal.

I keep a summary of where I am over the course of the year in terms of acceptances / submissions etc. I’m not tracking percentages … yet!

Alongside this list I have a spreadsheet that I use – poems are organised in columns – waiting to be sent out, submitted or published. If submitted I have a 6 month ‘nudge’ date / date when available when I get back to the editors to chase an update, though the vast majority get back to me very quickly – I’ve had rejections within 48 hours on a couple of occasions! If I don’t hear back then the poem is moved back to the available list

You’ll see that the poem titles are in some cases in colour. I do this in order to track how often a poem has been sent out. After all, if it’s been rejected a lot of times maybe it just isn’t good enough? Whilst you can’t see it here, some recent acceptances have been for poems that have been submitted four or five times before. Sometimes it is simply a case of finding the right home for that particular poem.

A couple of other pointers;

If the poem in the published column is in bold it has been accepted by a publication that I haven’t had work in before.

If the poem is in italics and pale blue, it is a previously published poem that has found a new home in a magazine or on a website that accepts work that has appeared elsewhere before.

So what do you think? How do you track your poetry submissions? I’d love to find out!

I’ll finish this post with a link to each of the three magazines mentioned in this post;

Green Ink Poetry – https://www.greeninkpoetry.co.uk

Acropolis Journal – https://acropolisjournaluk.wixsite.com/acropolisjournal

Little Stone Magazine – https://www.littlestonejournal.co.uk

Have a look – there might still be time to submit for the next issue 🙂

4 thoughts on “How I Track my Poetry Submissions”

  1. I have two spreadsheets and a box of index cards. The box of index cards is by magazine/competition and tracks all the poems sent to each organisation date sent, deadline, expected response date and actual response date. I put ticks against accepted poems and any comments recieved about individual poems, or general comments. I use this to make sure I don’t duplicate submissions and it gives me a record about how the organisation responds, ie quick rejections long time for acceptances or quick acceptances and rejections at the end of that submission duration. One spreadsheet lists the poem out for submission with the relevant dates and I colour them yellow for 3 weeks, amber for two weeks and red for past result due dates. When the response arrives I move the poems to ‘available’ if one is accepted I update the second spreadsheet which keeps a record for the year eg Dreich (dl 30 June) 5 poems sent, 1 reject, 4 accepted on relevant dates, names of the accepted poems. I add the information to a word document CV which also records readings and workshops. This year individual poems sent out is over 100 with a far greater rejection percentage, 18 acceptances. I’m what’s called a scattergun approach rather than targeted approach…as I get more contributor copies I can see the sort of poems that get accepted. One magazine, nameless, I’d been trying to get in I finally paid a subscription to read the sort of poetry it accepted and found the contents dry and dull so stopped submitting. Ambition to get the index card system on a spreadsheet, and be able to filter to see what went where…Duotrope style without paying for the service.

    1. Thanks Sue – that’s a far more comprehensive approach than mine! In particular I like the way of tracking response times against publication expectations. One thing I quite like about the online publications is that, with the exception of the newest ones, you can get a good understanding of what they like without subscribing or having to pay for previous editions. Oh, and an 18% hit rate poems to acceptances is pretty spectacular! From one scattergun submitter to another, well done!

  2. Thank you letting us into your method. Mine is more random. I just have a file on the computer called ‘Submissions’ where I save poems sent. No grids or anything but as I only submit poems about four times a year it’s dead easy to keep a record.

    I have a poem published with Ink Sweat and Tears on August 13th (encouraged by your submission), one on Plymouth University’s Covid Poem website this month, and also an old poem is Portsmouth University’s ‘Poem of the Month’. Oh, just remembered, this week I had a piece of flash fiction accepted for the Isle of Wight’s ‘Brevity’, described as a ‘literary handbill’. You have to reside on the island to submit, so there you go.

    Just to let you know that The Chilli Grower’s Lament was in my choice of top three poems for that competition but my decision was overridden. Glad to see it’s been accepted by the admirable Butcher’s Dog.

    1. Thanks Maggie, yes, a lot easier when you aren’t sending lots out! Congrats on the acceptances – nice to see Ink Sweat & Tears in the list. I’m moving increasingly towards online publications. Whilst some don’t have the apparent kudos of print, the readership figures can be much, much, higher. But that’s for another post. As for the Chilli Grower’s Lament – glad you liked it – I haven’t had notification either way yet – I have submitted it with no expectations bearing in mind the size of the publication and the 3000 or so submissions they get each month!

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