Wednesday, 23 February 2022

Poetry submissions via Submittable

Since my first full collection, The Knives of Villalejo, back in 2017, I’ve had perhaps my most fruitful period ever in terms of placing new poems in high-quality journals. In fact, I’ve published a total of 44 pieces in outlets such as The Spectator, The New European, Stand, Acumen, Poetry Birmingham, Wild Court, etc, etc.

However, in that same period, absolutely everything I’ve submitted via Submittable has been rejected – a total of 31 batches of poems, all declined. Why? What might the reasons be?

Of course, one immediate reason may be that more people submit to journals via Submittable than via other means, while another suggestion might be that many of the most prestigious mags use Submittable. Oh, and an additional option is that younger editors tend to work with the platform, and my poems are less to their taste. Nevertheless, I do believe that I’ve accumulated a pretty decent and broad list of credits elsewhere (see above) during that same period.

What’s my point? What potential conclusions could be drawn? Well, I’d argue that the use of Submittable is extremely detrimental to the type of poetry I write. It favours work that catches a superficial eye rather than poems that layer their effects with subtlety. This isn’t to knock editors’ decisions, just a reflection on the way Submittable potentially skews their choices. Do you agree? If so, is the use of Submittable changing the poetry some people write and subsequently read? Is this a change for the better…?


  1. Submittable may have been detrimental to the likehood of the acceptance of your poems but I doubt it's 'extremely' so, though I can see it must feel like it. And it's clear that problems that layer their effects with subtlety DO get through, because we read some poems that fit this description in magazines that use Submittable. But even if this method of sending in poems DID work against poems that take longer to have an effect on the reader (which I think is a subtler way of putting it), I don't see why that should change the way people write, though it may mean they're likely to send poems off more impulsively and more quickly after writing them. But I think other factors do, and are, changing the way people write.

  2. Agree with Nelissma. However, another and more pernicious use of submittable is as a means of making money for journals that aren't actually read or purchased all that much. Some claim they "have to" charge a fee. In any case, I'm not sure how successful it all is - I note that submittable have rebranded themselves as a "social impact platform" which suggests to me that they want to target grant applicants rather than writers these days.