Poetry FAQs: Is it easier to get published online than in print?

Well, I just finished my annual bookstore tour for Market Books of Southwest Ohio (thanks to Joseph Beth in Cincy and Books & Co. in Dayton!), and I found it interesting that this same question was asked at both locations by different groups of writers: Is it easier to get published online than in print?

The assumption I think most writers (poets included) make is that online is somehow an easier route to getting published. But I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Online or off, there is still an editor (or group of editors) looking for quality work, usually with a certain aesthetic in mind whether that be formal verse, narrative, experimental, or some other type of style.

A few years ago, one could make the argument that there were more writers submitting to print publications than online publications. However, with the global reach of established online sites and the limited print runs of literary journals, that pendulum may be swinging the other way.

It should also be noted that as online sites, such as The Pedestal and Boxcar Review, come up with money to pay writers there’s less of a resistance among writers to publish their work in one place over another. After all, what’s even better than getting your work published? Getting your work published and getting paid for it.

So anyway, here’s the short answer I give to writers at bookstores and conferences when they ask if it is easier to get published online than in print:


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7 thoughts on “Poetry FAQs: Is it easier to get published online than in print?

  1. Miguel de Matos

    Hey buddies,
    Hope you like my new poetic name. I think it reflects my adaption from the more classic verse I used to write to the miscellany I write now.
    Either way, back on topic. As an international poet writing mainly in English and living in Portugal, I find it ever more difficult to find print publications to whom I can send my work to. I have currently sent an e-mail to a regional newspaper where I hope to publish a long poem I am currently working on. That poem is in Portuguese. I currently am also considering writing to the Portuguese edition of The Resident, which is a british newspaper for the anglophonic community in Portugal.
    On the other hand however, I am increasingly pushed to submit to online journals. I have a submission with Boxcar Review. I know, I am ambitious. I don’t mind receiving no acceptance letters in a whole year. I care about writing poetry. Last time I submitted was to foliate oak. They responded to me with an offer to re-submit too so I am real glad they appreciated my poetry. 🙂
    On the other hand, as sub-editor of The Student, my school’s student magazine, I am planning in openining a critique group at school and have already contacted the school administration.

    Nigel, answering to your post. Do you really think that the old-school formal verse still has any way in online poetry? Ever more I go to e-zines and all I see are more experimental and modern works. Not that I do not appreciate these. For example, I think it was in Robert’s latest publication at Otoliths, he had posted a great poem and that style to me was quite alien.
    I believe that modern poetry is much more in vogue than old poetry. However, I’ll take your post and save it. Gotta look at those sites and consider submit submit! Haha 🙂

    Well, cya people.

  2. Nigel Holt

    As one of the editors of The Shitcreek Review (www.shitcreekreview.com)I have to say that getting in isn’t easy. I am of the opinion that the best poetry should always be published. That is often not the case, for example, in magazines like Measure and many other venues where politics, the old-school tie network and dubious aesthetics/religious practices are the order of the day.

    As a writer of mainly formal poetry, some magazines, I know I will never get into, as I don’t send FV, and in others, my shade of politics or my eschewal of MOR ‘old-lady verse’ mean its hard to get placed. Elsewhere, it’s just plugging away with half-decent poetry that counts. It’s not print or online that make the difference, but the policies of the editors. That said, in SCR, if we get poems that are good – no matter what the flavour, we like to include them. I wish that could be said of other places.


  3. Amy Barlow Liberatore

    Robert, Jason, and Terri,

    I wrote a poem about my first rejection, called "Ding Day"! I told my daughter (who was at first into poetry and cobblestones on the pathway to publication."

    A file of "dings" means I have been submitting. Also, an email exchange I had recently with the one challege to write an odd number of lines, odd number of words (in my case, five by five) got an in-depth critique and offer to re-submit! Quite impressive feedback.

    Thanks again for all you do, Robert! Amy

  4. Terri

    I have my haiku out to several print publications for review right now. Just sent some out to The Pedestal–looks like a great online publication. The key is to submit, submit, submit. Any writer who considers him/herself a working writer will get more rejection than acceptance. Dems da beans, gotta suck it up and deal with it.

  5. Robert Brewer

    One question that does come to my mind from time to time is why would anyone want to submit to someplace they consider to have low standards? It’s like an Olympic gold medalist celebrating a win at a junior high school track meet.

  6. Jason Mashak

    Robert, the first thing I would ask those who ask you that question is why do they think it should be so easy? Yes, that’s just what we need… even more schlock to have to weed through to find what’s good.

    I’m grateful for every rejection I’ve ever received, as I look at them as filters of sorts. Bill Knott’s blog has recently featured collages of all his rejection notices. It reminds me of Elvis being told he should go back to being a truck driver… only those who are serious about it will endure.

    I got an email rejection this morning from Hayden’s Ferry Review. Why does that mean less to me than continuing to put two spaces after a period?

  7. Amy Barlow Liberatore

    I don’t care if I get paid; I just want to get published! Someday I will be more ambitious, but it seems to me that, until I get a few publications to cite in cover letters, I’ll be more credible as a marketable poet.

    But I AM a working poet. I write every night, which has been the suggestion of you and countless other poets whose work I respect. In the meantime, I try to put in some time doing jazz whenever possible…

    Thx for this post, Robert. Very encouraging!

    Blessings to you both, Amy


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