Finishing a poem, or at least getting a poem as finished as possible, is not necessarily followed by getting that poem published, no matter how good it is. There are myriad reasons for a poem being rejected, eg:
- The editor simply doesn’t have space
- It happens to be on a similar topic to a poetry that’s already been accepted
- It doesn’t fit thematically with the poems that have already been accepted
- The editor likes the subject, but not the style
- The editor likes the style but not the subject
- The editor liked the poem but it was in a pile of twenty possible acceptances that had to be whittled down to ten and you didn’t follow the submission guidelines
- The editor didn’t think it would appeal to their readership
- Life got in the way: the editor needed to clear their inbox and knows they will get more poems in a week than they can publish in a year
From the above list, it’s easy to see that the quality of the poem is not always the reason for its rejection. Publishers and magazine editors rely on buyers and subscribers so if they don’t see how your poem fits with their sales strategy or don’t think it’s right for their audience, rejection will follow.
When sending out poems, it’s always a good idea to have a Plan B: if you send your poems to magazine A have a magazine B in mind that you can sent them to if they are rejected. In the meantime, focus on your next piece of writing. Ultimately, publishers want writers who can deliver and produce new work.
By Emma Lee