I have been posting calls for submissions like mad, over at the new and improved PAWA blog, and have been a little surprised at the non-response to them. I know; just because I’m not hearing any feedback does not mean folks are being unresponsive. It’s just that I have been trying to gauge community interest in submitting work for publication.
Here is what befuddles me: There’s so much dialogue over our invisibility and non-presence on bookstore shelves and on course syllabi, coupled with reticence to put work out there in a major way. As well, there’s so much interest in self-promotion, in being recognized, so much desire to be given props and praise for being poets and writers, coupled with reticence to put work out there in a major way.
What gives, with the contradictions? I am interested in untangling that, and giving substance to the picture of “poets and writers,” and the necessary work to make it so.
As my friend and fellow author Sunny Vergara has recently blogged, it’s loaded, “self-promotion,” and the term, “shameless self-promotion.” Submitting work is part of the work of self-promotion. With every cover letter we write to accompany every submissions packet we send out, we engage in self-promotion. We’re submitting to the possibility that our work is good and/or interesting enough to warrant publication in a potentially competitive field. He’s listed some truths, which I believe are important to arrive at on our own schedules, after going through our own processes:
- You cannot sit on your ass and hope to be discovered.
- You cannot sit on your ass and hope to be invited to speak.
- You cannot sit on your ass and hope to be published.
This is a good credo. That said, I am interested in where these hopes “to be discovered,” “to be invited to speak,” “to be published” come from. How and why are they perpetuated?
I have questions, and it’d be great to hear from folks. As you may know, I am conducting a “Submitting Your Work for Publication” workshop on July 30 at the Bayanihan Center in SF. I’d decided to offer this workshop because of the volume of emails and questions I regularly field on the subject of submitting work.
Questions range from very general, “how do you submit work,” to “where do you submit work,” to “where do you find out who’s accepting work,” to questions of what “simultaneous submissions” means, whether you should submit via snail mail or email, etc. The most general questions require unpacking; when someone asks, “how do you submit work?” what specifically is being asked?
Anthem Salgado recently interviewed me for his Art of Hustle podcast, and this was an excellent conversation that he and I had been meaning to have. I believe it’s this conversation, or rather, the planning of this conversation, that led me to commit to a date for this submissions workshop; I know that in general, folks want to know more about submissions and publication, but I don’t know specifically what the questions are. I also know that there are hang-up’s surrounding submitting; I want to know more about what these hang-up’s are about, and what the causes are.
Are there issues with submitting to bodies representing “academia,” and “institutions,” that are not “for us,” that are not “ours?” Are there issues with “selling out,” and “whitewashing?” Having recently read Manong Al Robles’s essay, “Hanging on to the Carabao’s Tail,” in the Amerasia journal (15:1, 1989), I see there really are issues about being perceived as participating in the institutions of the “whiteman.” So I want to talk about it, frankly, openly, negotiating the publishing industry and our politics. I want to talk about what we can do concretely, proactively, as community producers and editors with the concrete skills and resources that we have. (Perhaps this coming workshop is not the proper forum for this discussion, but for sure, this is on my mind in a big way.)
So, now that I am compiling my workshop materials — e-resources for submissions calls and journals/magazines, sample cover letters, sample submissions calls to read for editors’ requirements and instructions — I want to find out from you folks: what are your questions, issues, confusions, hang-up’s about submissions and the submissions process?