WWS Poetry Submission Blitz

By Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo

In honor of National Poetry Month, Women Who Submit is hosting a Poetry Submission Blitz on April 9, 2017 from 12pm-3pm at the Arts District Brewing Company. A submission blitz is a call to writers to submit their well-crafted and cared for work en masse to tier one literary journals that historically have shown gender disparities in their publications. A submission blitz is a call to action.

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Highlight on WWS-Long Beach, CA: An Interview with Chapter Leads Desiree Kannel and Rachael Rifkin

How would you describe your city and your local literary community?

We like to say that Long Beach is a “little ‘big’ city.” We have a big and diverse population and lots of very different communities. In fact, LB was named one of the most diverse cities in the US according to the last census. A fact we are very proud of.

LB has a lot going on in the literary world. It isn’t hard to find a poetry reading, someone doing a book launch, or even a critique group. Independent businesses like coffee shops and book stores like to support LB writers and welcome small groups to do events such as readings or workshops. Continue reading

Highlight on WWS-NYC: An Interview with Chapter Lead, Kirsten Major

Women Who Submit: How would you describe your city and your local literary

Kirsten Major: New York is a big-little city. We are 8 million in number, but the literary scene is small–everyone is about 1 person away from everyone else. Sharing air with literary giants is not uncommon. The five boroughs, plus Jersey City, plus Long Island reading scene is endless. My fantasy day job would be to be the Bill Cunningham of the literati, on my bike every night with a camera around my neck, on my way to a reading somewhere to take pictures of my world.

WWS: How did you hear of Women Who Submit, and why were you drawn to start a WWS chapter in your area?

KM: It just gets so. Darned. Hard. To keep putting yourself out there. Leland Cheuk, who wrote The Misadventures of Sulliver Pong, has written about this beautifully, persevering in the face of unstinting rejection. And also, it is mighty easy to have dedicated writing time co-opted by sending my work out if I haven’t in a while. Above all, it’s lonely. I am pretty active on Twitter so one day I put it out there, “Is there any one who knows if there are submissions parties? Is this a thing?” And someone sent me the WWS Twitter handle and I thought, that’s for me. It was absolutely key that Ashaki Jackson, co-founder, had a training session, coached me about attracting people and then worked her own NYC-based network of poets at Cave Canem,to help me get started. The national organization has supported me at every level and that keeps me going. Continue reading

Building Up to Emerging: Tips for Applying to Fellowships, Residencies and Workshops

by Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo

The first time I applied for a fellowship was in spring 2009. I was about to finish grad school, and I sent out a slew of applications like I was applying for a PhD. I figured it was the next logical step as I readied myself to move beyond my MFA program, and I had the mentors close by to help. I gathered transcripts and letters of recommendation, curated samples of work and wrote project proposals. I remember one mentor agreed to write a letter with what I perceived as little enthusiasm. When all the rejections came in that summer, I read the bios of those who won and took notice of all their previous awards and accolades. I thought back to that mentor and considered her lackluster support the response of someone who understood the literary world better than I did at that time.

See what I learned from this experience was that “emerging” doesn’t mean new like I thought it did, Continue reading

Writing Myself: On Becoming a Real Writer

by Marya Summers

In the summer of 2003, poets from around the world converged in Chicago for the National Poetry Slam. One densely packed nightclub was electric with anticipation for the group poem showcase, a highlight of the annual event. You could have supplied power to a small town with the energy my own body was generating as I took the stage with two women on my team to deliver the poem “Penis Envy.” It had received perfect scores the night before in preliminary bouts.

For any team, but particularly for our small-to-middling town team from Delray Beach, Florida, this showcase was The Big Leagues. Because it wasn’t part of the competition (it was a “best of”), all we had to do is exactly what we did the night before – deliver our bawdy, satiric conjecture on what we would do if we had penises. We were only a few seconds into our poem when the room began to hiss as if giant, terrible snakes were about to strike. I recognized the sound immediately. I’d heard other poets call it “the feminist hiss.”

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Learning Your Audience: The Benefits of Submitting to Literary Journals, Grants, and Residencies (Even If You Don’t Get In!)

by Rachael Warecki

Two years ago, I decided I needed to focus my submission process. I’d received acceptances from some wonderful journals, but I’m ambitious as hell and I wanted to take my writing and submission goals to the next level. Around the same time, I also decided to apply for grants and residencies, so I started to target my submissions and applications more strategically.

As I’ve written previously, this approach has had some success, mostly in the form of personal rejections. But the editorial notes and feedback have given me more than just warm, fuzzy feelings of validation—they’ve given me a better sense of my most receptive audience. In the two years since I decided to submit more strategically, I’ve discovered that my writing seems to appeal mostly to editors and directors who are women. The judges and editors who’ve written me the warmest rejections have identified as women or represented women-centric organizations, or both.

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On Getting Into The Huffington Post: Approach from Another Angle

by Alana Saltz

When I first started writing essays, I knew that I wanted to become a contributing blogger for The Huffington Post. It’s one of the largest and most trafficked publications in the world, providing an invaluable platform for a fledgling writer like myself.

But getting into HuffPo wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Unlike other publications I’ve managed to get my work in, it would take several attempts—as well as a few different tactics—to land that coveted “Contributing Blogger” title.

When I started submitting essays to The Huffington Post, I used my standard approach. I submitted an article, waited a few weeks, and then submitted another. When a few more weeks passed with no response, I tried one more time.

Each submission was sent to the same category, “Healthy Living,” because my writing at the time focused on mental health. And each time I submitted an article, I received no response whatsoever.

I realized that it was time to approach the situation from another angle. My mother happens to be a contributing blogger for HuffPo after getting connected with an editor through one of her contacts. I decided to try out the same approach and asked her to connect me with her editor. We exchanged a couple of emails, and the editor assured me that my articles were being passed on to the right people at “Healthy Living.” After two months of waiting, there was still absolutely no response.

I was ready to give up hope. I told myself that HuffPo wasn’t the right fit for me. They didn’t like my writing. I wasn’t marketable enough. I should just stop trying. I should give up.

But then I wrote an article that was different than the kinds of articles I’d been writing before. It was about the Netflix series, Orange is the New Black, and how the newest season dealt with the subject of depression. After getting the pitch rejected from Salon, I decided I might as well send it off to HuffPo because it seemed like it would be a good fit.

I chose “Entertainment” as my category for the post and sent it off at a Women Who Submit meeting without any expectations. A few days later, I received an email from an “Entertainment” editor informing me that my piece was going to be published. She sent me the information to set up my account, and I officially became a Huffington Post Contributing Blogger. I was absolutely thrilled.

Once my article, “What Orange is the New Black Gets Right About Depression,” was posted, I submitted an article that had previously been rejected by the “Healthy Living” section. To my surprise, it was also published a few days later…in the “Healthy Living” section. I’m now able to submit pretty much any article I want, and as a contributor, it goes right through.

The entire process from first submission to eventual publication took about eight months and six separate essay submissions. It would have been easy to give up on becoming a HuffPo contributor after any of these attempts and approaches failed. It took rethinking my approach and submitting a different kind of piece to a different set of editors to finally get published on the site.

The thing I’ve learned about getting published is that it’s not just about trying again and again. Persistence and patience aren’t always enough. Sometimes you need to switch gears and approach something from a new angle to get your foot in the door.

df212354-efee-4881-abea-b45c8267f03fAlana Saltz is a writer, freelance editor, and occasional ukulele rocker residing in Los Angeles. Her essays can be found in The Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, HelloGiggles, RoleReboot, The Manifest-Station, and more. You can visit her website at alanasaltz.com and follow her on Twitter @alanasaltz.