Reading

Publishing Tips

By: Kelsey M. Bee

As writers, many of us can agree that the publishing process is exciting, but at times, it can be equally panic-inducing. So often do we pour ourselves into that one piece that inevitably becomes a tender extension of ourselves. We owe it to that piece to let it breathe outside of our notebook; we know it deserves a life beyond our laptop. But then, we start to think about the logistics of sending that piece out, and the alarms in our heads go off: How do I go about doing this? What if it gets rejected? What if it gets accepted?!

When it comes to publishing, it is okay—normal even—to feel a little out of the loop. Publishing know-how comes with trial and error, familiarizing oneself with the market and the process, and consistent research. Below are some tips that might help those who are considering sending out pieces for publication, to 13th Floor Magazine or otherwise.

Tiered Lists

To help combat some of the fear and frustration, it is a good idea to compile a tiered list of journals or magazines in which you hope to be published. This list, which often has three or four tiers, enables you to narrow down the possible outlets for your work while also pushing you to research the publications. If that sounds tricky or time consuming, that’s because it is. Luckily, websites like Duotrope, Submittable, and Poets&Writers have gathered information about numerous publications, their submission deadlines, and any upcoming writing contests. These sites are great starting points for crafting your own tiered list. It will help you assess which publications are top-tier, second-tier, or third-tier. This might depend on the reputation of the publication, but it can equally depend on what you value in an outlet for your creative work.

Submission Guidelines & Masthead

When sending out your work, it is imperative to look through each journal’s submission guidelines and masthead. Often times, submissions can get rejected for not adhering to the guidelines, and we can all probably agree that if we are to get a rejection letter, we’d rather it be for the actual work rather than submitting incorrectly. Many publications have a masthead, or a Meet the Staff page, which identifies editors and their specific positions. If this is available, it is beneficial to know a little bit about which editors will likely be reading your piece. Additionally, it might be a good idea to address your cover letter to the lead editor of the genre that corresponds to your piece.

Attend Conferences

One way to help ease the stress of sending work out for publishing is to attend conferences. This can sometimes be expensive, but universities frequently offer travel funding for students, and it is definitely worth looking into. Conferences are a great place to network with fellow writers—established or up-and-coming—with representatives from MA or MFA programs, and with representatives from literary magazines or journals. Although networking might seem just as frightening as sending work out for publication, it can be a lot of fun even for the most introverted of writers. Conferences are great opportunities for like-minded people to learn from one another about the ins and outs of our industry, something that has proved invaluable over and over again.

If you’re feeling nervous about publishing fiction, nonfiction, or poetry, that’s natural and understandable. Just be sure it doesn’t hold you back from submitting your work.

Fall 2017 Issue is Now Available!

Fall Cover

The Fall 2017 issue is here!

Check out some amazing pieces of writing and art for free via Amazon.com. This free edition is only available as an ebook. Make sure to download the Fall 2017 issue before September 1st. Click here to get your free copy.

Print versions of the Fall 2017 issue will also be available on blurb.com for only $11! Get yours here. Hurry, this sale will only last until September 1st!

We will also be selling print issues (while supplies last) at every Writer’s Workshop Reading Series event, starting Tuesday, September 20, from 7:30-8:30 p.m., at the University of Nebraska Omaha Art Gallery or Milo Bail Student Center, depending on where the reading takes place. You can see a list of the reading series dates and locations here.

Save the Date for the 700 Words Prose Slam!

Have you ever wanted to read your work before an audience? UNO’s Writer’s Workshop and English Department will be holding a prose slam at Apollon Art Space on Thursday, April 6, 2017. Come out at 7:00 to read your work. Or, if you don’t have anything to read, stop by and support the readers for free!

Poetry: Tips for Reading Aloud

Band from Montreal

You’ve written it, revised it, revised it again, let it sit for a while, then revised one last time, and now you’re finally ready to share your poem. That open mike night can seem pretty intimidating, though, if you’re not sure how to read your poem out loud. Here are some tips for reading your poem in front of an audience:

 

  1. It’s a good idea to practice reading your poem five times, ten times, or even twenty times if you need to. Even if you wrote it yourself, it still can be difficult to cold-read a poem. You need to get to the point where you’re comfortable with the line breaks and the syntax – you don’t want to be surprised by your own enjambment, after all. Try reading it silently first, then when you feel you have gotten familiar with the movement and rhythm of your poem, start practicing reading it aloud. The more practice you get in, the more comfortable you’ll feel reading it in front of others.
  1. Read your poem to some friends. Once you’ve got the poem down, have some family or friends listen to your performance. Have your friends give you feedback about how your voice is carrying, how your speed is, and whether there were any parts of the poem that they missed or couldn’t understand. They can help you modify your delivery to make certain the poem’s nuances come across clearly to your audience.
  1. Make a clear, easy-to-read copy of the poem from which to read. Enlarge the font if you need to, put it in a binder if that is something that might help you stay organized. Even if you’ve practiced so much that you have the poem practically memorized, it’s easy to have a panicked moment once you’re in front of a crowd, and having a good visual aid can make all the difference.
  1. Remember to make eye contact. If you have practiced well, you shouldn’t need to stare at your copy of the poem the entire reading. The audience wants to be entertained, to be engaged with the reader on the journey of the poem, rather than just being read to. Make sure that when you read, you glance down at the page to check your place, then look around at the audience. Make eye contact, even for a microsecond, with multiple audience members before glancing back at your page(s) again. Not only does it make you seem more present in the room, but it makes you appear more confident.
  1. Try to relax – it’s going to be fine. No one’s career ever ended because of one bungled line, or because they got a coughing fit in the middle of a reading. It’s not like Evening at the Apollo – the audience isn’t waiting for you to fail, but rather is hoping you will succeed. Reading in front of an audience can be nerve-wracking, but if you’ve practiced and if you let yourself enjoy the poem, you’ll have the pleasure of sharing that enjoyment with your audience.

 

Young woman singing

 

Want to hear some great readings? Here are some lists:

The 10 Best Recordings of Poets:

http://www.theguardian.com/culture/gallery/2014/jun/06/the-10-best-recordings-of-poets

Famous Poets Reading Their Own Work:

http://www.openculture.com/2008/03/listening_to_famous_poets_reading_their_own_work_.html

10 Celebrities Reading Famous Poems:

http://flavorwire.com/280070/watch-10-celebrities-reading-famous-poems-aloud

Button Poetry on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/user/ButtonPoetry

Poetry Out Loud:

http://www.poetryoutloud.org/poems-and-performance/listen-to-poetry