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Deborah Guzzi travels for inspiration: China, Nepal [during the civil war], Japan, Egypt [two weeks before ‘The Arab Spring’], and most recently Peru. First published at the age of sixteen, she writes articles for Massage and Aroma Therapy Magazines. Her poetry has been accepted in the Literary Journals of Western CT. University, Inclement Magazine, Pyrokinections, Jellyfish Whispers, Grey Wolf’s Summer Legends Anthology, The Germ, Wilderness Literary Review, The Anthology Sweet Dreams & Night Terrors, Bitterzoet Magazine, haiku journal, Contemporary Haibun Online, Bella on line, The Autumn Sound, Eskimo Pie, and Ribbons, The Inwood Indiana Review, Five Poetry, Tanka Society of America Journal, and 50 haiku. She has published two illustrated volumes of poetry, The Healing Heart and Heaven and Hell in a Nutshell.


Some Good Advise


Blog Posted:5/9/2014 3:21:00 PM

Advice for Poets:

What it means when a journal says no (or anything other than yes) LizKayatBurntDistrict May 3, 2014


I've talked before about publication, but most of my advice has had to do with how to initiate a submission, and now I want to talk about what to do when you get a response. We've been sending a lot of responses at burntdistrict the past few weeks. Obviously, everyone is hoping for the acceptance (really, on our side too) but there are basically four other responses that you might get (from any journal).

1. The Form Rejection (though honestly I prefer to call it a decline): This rejection means nothing. Or it means many things. It means so many things it's impossible to cull the meaning from it. It might mean that your work is so awful the editors couldn't bear to read past the second line. It could mean that your work is really spectacular, but not in an aesthetic the journal normally prints. It could mean that your poem is really similar in theme to a poem the editors just took but not in a way that could open a conversation between the two if they were to print them side by side. It could mean that the editors read so many poems one night, they fell out of love with poetry and should have stopped reading 3 submissions ago but didn't. It could be that your poem included an & (which is a particular pet peeve of Jen's), or that you capitalized the first letter of every line (which is a particular pet peeve of mine) and so it already had a strike against it going in. In short, yes,it could mean that there is something wrong with your poems, but it also could mean that these particular editors just didn't fall in love with them.
So, what do you do with this? Nothing. You keep sending the poems out to other journals and see what happens. You should try the same journal that rejected this batch with newer and better poems in 6-12 months.
Occasionally, people reply to these, but I don't recommend it. Every so often, we get an outraged response (often in verse) from a writer who is pissed off that we have failed to recognize their genius. Even if your note is just a polite thank you, I always get a little jolt of dread when I see a response to a decline. (No one's ever going to hold it against you for sending a thank you, but it's not expected or worth your time.)

2 The Encouraging Form Rejection: This rejection means that the editors did not fall in love with these poems but they liked aspects. They liked the themes or the imagery or maybe just one line. They see promise in your work (if you're just starting out), or they looked at your bio and know that you sent them your "B" work. They hope that you try them again.
Again, it's not necessary to reply. Send them another batch of newer and better poems in 6-12 months. Note that while these are two different responses, you should handle them in the exact same way. There's really no reason to go to Rejection Wiki to try to figure out what tier you're in unless, of course, you enjoy making yourself insane.

3 The Non-Form Rejection with Specific Feedback: This rejection is incredibly rare. The editors were really drawn to your work, to the possibility in your poems. They're going out on a limb in opening up a dialogue, so this is a big deal.
Now you reply. It takes so much time to write these, and also writers are crazy. It is not really fun to correspond with them about what's wrong with their work, so it is an incredible gift when an editor takes the time to do this. Maybe you disagree with their feedback, but they read your work closely and were invested enough to start a conversation. Be polite enough to reply graciously. They may ask you to revise and resubmit a specific poem or poems and you should do that. Take your time. Put real work in it. Know that they might still not publish your poems. Also, now that you have a better sense of what they like, put together a (newer and better) batch of poems and send it in 3-6 months (unless they specifically encourage you to resubmit sooner). In 6 months, they will still remember your name.

4 The Conditional Acceptance: The editors want to edit your work. This is what editors do. They tend to be good at it.
Say yes. If you don't trust them enough to take their advice, you shouldn't be sending them work in the first place. Granted, the first time it happens, you'll be like, tercets instead of couplets? But that changes everything! and you'll be super fucking upset about it. Get over it. People who know what they're talking about want to help you make your work better. Be grateful. And then spend some time thinking about the changes they made to your poem and see if you can apply it to the rest of your work. Seriously. A gifted editor will teach you how to write better poems if you pay close attention.



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  1. Date: 5/12/2014 10:41:00 AM
    I have now (finally) been able to update my webpage with the Web Store app and have listed the latest publications for sale. You are kindly invited to visit my page and enjoy the offering. Kind regards Su www.suzettepoet.webs.com

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  1. Date: 5/12/2014 8:46:00 AM
    It's not coming up to your page Suz?

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    Richards Avatar Suzette Richards Date: 5/12/2014 10:47:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    https://www.facebook.com/angelwingsa
    Richards Avatar Suzette Richards Date: 5/12/2014 10:46:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    You may search Water Dance in fb - it will default to it. Piece & Love, Su
  1. Date: 5/12/2014 8:34:00 AM
    Please see my article on my fb page today:- https://www.facebook.com/angelwingsa?ref=hl

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  1. Date: 5/11/2014 7:15:00 AM
    I hear you Suz, a publisher spent about 2 weeks with me, saying 1st how much she liked my work and then, giving me all the punctuation errors [yup me! Ms. punctuation LOL] anyway it went back & forth with me making corrections and in the end she said I'm sorry your punctuation and line breaks in free verse and these are not yet ready for our magazine. Really? a 2 week waste of her time? my time? [I do realize that she must have really liked something about my verse BUT damn, that was more annoying than encouraging?!]

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    Richards Avatar Suzette Richards Date: 5/12/2014 8:39:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Continued: It was like asking me to translate Uncle Tom's Cabin into Shakespearian English - it would not wash... ;-)
    Richards Avatar Suzette Richards Date: 5/12/2014 8:38:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    You got off lightly. With my first book (Mind, body and spirit genre) the USA publisher who I had signed me up, INSISTED (after I had already forked out a hefty fee for copyright, etc) that I must rewrite my book in USA English - not just the spelling, but the turn of phrase, etc. Well, I told them what they could do with themselves and demanded my money back - which they did refund in the long run.
  1. Date: 5/11/2014 3:57:00 AM
    What do you do when a publisher tells you that they love your book, but it is not in their field of expertise, and go on to recommend a publishing house? I did that and enclosed the letter of "recommendation". I got a terse reply that they do not appreciate "recommendations". This is a well known UK based publishing house where the Editor in Chief has made her name as an "Inspirational Speaker"! After licking my wounds, I soldier on - even if I write for a small group of people (that is OK by me). Good blog, Debbie. It beats the "Our list is full": The stock answer to a writer when the publishers are just not interested in what you have to offer. Happy Mother's Day. <3, Su

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  1. Date: 5/9/2014 9:34:00 PM
    Fantastic advice. As someone who has experienced this first hand, yes, yes and yes. Also, examine your work, regardless of what type of rejection was received. Read read read. See what can be improved. Be willing to change things up. Read market books, read guidelines, read examples of what that editor has published. Read books on grammar and syntax. Read reference materials- try to learn a new word a day. So, I don't agree with do nothing. I say dive into whatever genre you are writing and investigate what is being published. Join a writer's group, if you can. Find someone you can trust to be honest about your writing. Listen to your instincts about what should not be altered, but allow yourself to really listen to the feedback. Be open to change. Most writers have had rejection. Some have had HUNDREDS of stories or poems rejected and went on to become well-known and well-loved authors.

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    Guzzi Avatar Debbie Guzzi Date: 5/9/2014 10:17:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    I knew the thing about capitalization BUT not about the & sign [though I'd almost never do that] last week I found out from your info Dee - never center a poem - or most editors will toss that too!
  1. Date: 5/9/2014 7:11:00 PM
    Very interesting--I'll be back, got family issues to address which is why I haven't been around much! Hugs

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  1. Date: 5/9/2014 5:47:00 PM
    Nice blog, Debs. I remember the few years I got to be one of those nasty "editors" for my friend Marie at Shadowpoetry. She would send me all the poems she liked and then I would weed out the ones that I did not like. She and I would argue back and forth on a few that one of us really liked but the other didn't. It was really fun for me. On a few of them, we would ask for "edits" as you say, and it surprised me that some poets were too proud to take suggestions from Marie. So they just said no. She told me that I was only seeing 20% or less of what she received! So I guess I was only getting the better poems. I never asked her what she did to reject her submissions!

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  1. Date: 5/9/2014 3:29:00 PM
    A very interesting,helpful and encouraging blog sweet Deborah

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