Moving the Goal Posts

After self-publishing my first book of poems, The Wind and the Shadows, in December of 2020, I set a goal to self-publish a second book of poems in a year. It seemed like a challenging but do-able goal.

In 2020, while praying, I felt prompted to be more intentional about writing poetry. Putting out a second book of poems within a year was a way to make that purpose concrete.

In the midst of 2021, however, I decided to start submitting poems to journals. So far, I’ve submitted to five or six journals and will be published in the November edition of Better than Starbucks.

Submitting to journals has taught me a couple things. First, many journals only want poems that haven’t previously been published; publishing often includes posting a poem on a blog or even social media like Facebook. This means I can’t submit anything from my first book or that has appeared on my other blog, The Voice of One. Most of the poems I’ve submitted have been new ones that I plan to publish in my next book.

Second, journals often take months to tell you whether or not your work will be published. This meant re-evaluating my goal of self-publishing a book in 2021. In weighing the value of sending poems to journals against self-publishing another book, I decided to delay my second book in the interest of approaching journals.

Self-publishing and traditional publishing each have their value. I am grateful to be able to self-publish. It’s nice to put your work out there without being beholden to anyone else. Still, there is something about submitting your work and having someone else say, ”This is good and should be shared.” To many, traditional publishing venues are still the gold-standard of quality.

All this to say that my second book of poems, Event Horizon, will probably come out sometime in 2022. I’ve decided to submit to a few more journals. After I’ve heard yea or nay from all of them, and after my poems appear in the journal or journals that accepted them, I’ll be free to self-publish Event Horizon.

Despite the delay, I am happy to say that I still met my original goal in a way: I’ve collected enough poems to be able to publish a second book this year. What is more, 2/3 to 3/4 of the poems are new—a sign that I have in fact been more intentional about writing this year. So while I’m moving the goal posts so to speak, I think it’s for a valuable reason. Plus, my original goal was still productive in the way I hoped.

If any readers have ventured into the realm of being published, I’d love to hear any tips you have. Feel free to leave a comment if you have some experience to share.

Published by mrteague

Teague McKamey lives in Washington state with his wife and two children. Currently, he manages in-home caregiver services for elderly and disabled people. The McKameys belong to Thorp Community Church, where they worship and minister together. In all areas of his life--whether at home, at church, or on the job--Teague sincerely hopes that Christ may be magnified in his body (Php. 1:20).

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