I was cleaning up pics from my iPhone and ran across this one from June 2020. I was seated at an outdoor space at my fav Cantina, having lunch and working on a poem from my book: “Poets Should Not Write About Politics” which was accepted by a publisher in February 2021!
I would like to thank: Laurel Peterson, Jane Ormerod & Caitlin Jans for reviewing the manuscript of my book: POETS SHOULD NOT WRITE ABOUT POLITICS and writing lovely reviews for the back cover! Take a look at their write-ups.
POETS SHOULD NOT WRITE ABOUT POLITICS by Jerry T Johnson
On December 25th, Christmas Day, I took a train from New York City to Charlotte North Carolina.
Since we are in the middle of a pandemic, I decided to purchase a ticket for a private room. I could go mask-less in a private room as long as I kept my door shut. I kept my door shut.
I like riding trains. A lot of my poetry writing and blogging takes place on some type of train. For my day-job I took Metro North commuter train from Brewster, New York to White Plains, New York on weekdays. I wrote during the morning ride. I usually slept during the afternoon ride. On weekends I would take a train from Brewster to Manhattan in New York City. I wrote a lot on the way down to the city. I usually slept on my return.
Often, I take a a train from New York to Washington, D.C. I also take many trains from New York to Charlotte. I write during these journeys as well. The trip to DC is 4 1/2 hours long. Writing makes the trip feel like 15 minutes. The trip from New York to Charlotte is 12 hours long. Writing makes that trip feel like an hour. Along with my writing there’s also reading that takes place. I’ll usually read for a half hour to an hour and then I’ll pick up my phone and start writing.
I used to write in a tablet with a pen. For a long time that was how I wrote all of my material. One weekend when I was in Washington D.C., a friend asked if I could give him a ride to Reagan National. I picked him up from his hotel and I noticed that he was very busy writing something on his smartphone. He was typing away with his thumbs. I thought to myself, “man, there ain’t no way I would write on a smartphone.” A few weeks later I read a wonderful piece written by about his favorite guitarist in an online magazine. I wondered if that was what he was working on during the ride to the airport.
About a month later, I was on a flight from Chicago to New York. Yes. I write while traveling by plane too. It is a little harder to write while seated in a plane. You don’t have a lot of wriggle room on a plane. Now if you are seated in First Class or Business Class that is a different story. All of my day-job travel is in coach.
I digressed. Let’s go back to the flight to New York from Chicago. I boarded. I put away my jacket in the overhead. I pulled my writing tablet from my carry-on, placed it in my lap and stowed the carry-on underneath the seat in front of me. After a long time on the taxiway the plane took off. We reached cruising altitude and I was ready to start writing. I opened my tablet and to my surprise and consternation I had no more blank pages.
My jaw dropped. I asked myself, “How did I miss this?” I was in the mood for writing. I thought about my smartphone. I pulled it out of my pocket. My plane was just very Indiana at that point. I navigated to the Notes app and with my thumbs I started typing. I typed all the way to final approach to the runway at LaGuardia in New York.
I still write in tablets but most of my writing is done on my smartphone. I’m using a smartphone now to type this piece, I am on a train, I’m in private quarters and I have plenty wiggle room.
———————————————— (c) 2020, Jerry T Johnson
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Jerry, where do you find your publishers? This is the question that I have been asked several times.
I search for publishers through a variety of publication resources that I have come to know over the past seven years. I also have my go-to resources that I search all the time. Before I talk about my favorite Go-To’s (forgive me for breaking punctuation rules) I would like to write about how I found those Go-To’s in the first place.
1. Google It. As much as I hate, hearing people equate googling it to Research and Compiling Empirical Data, googling “poetry publishing” is a quick way to display a list of potential publishers. That is how I started seven years ago —by googling it.
2. Get yourself a copy of Writer’s Market. “But Jerry,” you say, “Writer’s Market has been sold and the online version isn’t available. Further. Publishers are selling it a it $30 a pop.” I hear you. My first copy of Writer’s Market cost me $1. I picked it up from a used books section at a bookstore. When the pandemic lessens, mask up, glove up and browse used books at Goodwill stores, Flea Markets, Local Library sales, etc —wherever used books are sold. You may find a copy. Don’t sweat it if the edition is a year or two old. Mine was two years old but 80% of the information was quite useful.
3. Go to Open Mics and listen up for announcements about publication opportunities. If the organization who sponsored the open mic has a mailing list, think about getting your name on the list. You can always kindly unsubscribe later.
4. Search for workshops. Google writing workshops in your area. Workshops were very beneficial to me. The feedback was valuable and the networking helped me find publishers that I could submit to.
5. Search the internet for online writing journals or online writing magazines. Search for small literary presses (large ones too).
6. Maintain a list of publishers and publishing resources that you find. I keep a list and I track the length of their average response time.
I could go on but I will transition to some of my favorite publishing sources:
I subscribe to Authors Publish Magazine. Authors Publish Magazine has been a great source for finding publishers that I can submit my work to. I receive weekly email updates from Authors Publish Magazine. These updates contain valuable information. For instance, this past Monday, I received an email with a link to “20 Poetry Markets Open for Submissions.”
Occasionally, Authors Publish Magazine contains great articles about writing and publishing, such as “How to Evaluate A Publisher For Your Book”, “The Problem With Mass Submissions”, (one of my favorites) and many other informative and thought provoking pieces. Authors Publish Magazine also informs readers of writing workshops.
Authors Publish Magazine is one of my top Go-To’s when I am looking for publishing information. You can find them at:
There are many other sources one can refer to. Poets & Writers Magazine is another source that I use often. I also subscribe to them (and I am listed in their directory of 11,000+ writers, poets & spoken word artists, etc).
Browse through their “Publish Your Writing” menu for literary magazines and small presses that you can send your work to. You can access Poets & Writers Magazine at:
There are many other writing resources available, the two that I mentioned just happen to be my favorites. I’m sure you will find your favorites as well, but if you want a head start, go ahead and start with mine.
Attached to this post is a picture of my Submittable Account. The pic displays my active submissions. Active submissions are those that are submitted and have not been accepted or rejected yet. Of course this is my own definition. A more high fa-lu-ten definition may state: Active submissions are submissions that are under consideration. (I used my proper English voice when I said that)
Using my street voice, half of these ain’t being considered at all right now —especially during a pandemic. All the publishers are short staffed. Also, due to the pandemic, I am sure that submission totals have skyrocketed.
Therefore, try to be patient. I have edited for small presses before. I have great appreciation for their work and their challenges. As matter of fact, I think every writer should do a round of editing for a small or large press at least once in their lifetime. Writers attitude towards publishers may change quite a bit after that experience. More importantly, their writing and their writing approach may change. I know mine did.
Oops, I digressed a little —Back to using Submittable.
How does Submittable benefit me? 1. Electronic submissions – no stamps, no envelopes, No SASE – that’s self-addressed stamped envelope for the computer age crowd. 2. Tracking of your submissions – automatic. You don’t have to track your own, Submittable does it for you. I use Submittable for tracking and I use my own spreadsheet in conjunction with Submittable. 3. It is easy to withdraw a poem that was simultaneously submitted and accepted by another publisher (imagine writing withdrawal notes by hand to 29 publishers) 4. Oh, by the way, if you did submit a poem to 30 publishers and one publisher accepted your poem, you should immediately notify the other 29 publishers that the poem was accepted by another and is no longer available. Don’t be a jerk, It is the right thing to do. 5. I use Submittable to track —when was the last time — I submitted to a publisher. (Some publishers only allow 1 submission a year)
I will stop here. There are many other benefits for using Submittable. It has many benefits for the writer and the publisher.
I track what I submit in a spreadsheet whose design I borrowed from an old edition of Writers Market. Over time I tweaked the format, customizing it to my specific needs.
The picture you see is an example of how I track my submissions. I usually estimate that most publishers will respond favorably to my submissions within 60 days after submission deadline. If I receive no response within 80 days, I consider it “rejected”. Why? I have never received an acceptance for any submission that has aged past 62 days. I mark these aged submissions as “no response” and I filter them out of my list.
I am not a writing expert. Nonetheless, I have experience on being published and I want to share my tools and my experience with you.
Look for more posts about what I have experience as a writer in the near future.