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Houston, texas

Little Red Leaves Textile Series is a tiny press with a mission to publish innovative writing in delightful little packages. 

Submitting yourself to Submission Season


a chapbook series by little red leaves

Submitting yourself to Submission Season

Dawn Pendergast

Submission season is always a dreadful time. It's a psychologically (and financially) expensive process. It's rife with re-edits, re-orders, re-thinks and general malaise. As a writer (with way more rejection letters than acceptances) I dread the submission fees and ensuing judgement. (I mean we pay someone to reject us!) I waffle between liking and hating my poems. I press "submit" and instantly second-guess my decisions. 

In short, it's a shit show. And I do it every year!

But these past few years as an editor have also helped me gain some perspective on the process. I'd like to share. 

1. The people reading your poems love poems. They might not love your poems, but they do love poems. They appreciate your perspective, aesthetic and endeavoring. Your work is deeply read while it is being evaluated. The textile series has a few rules to make sure that each submission gets the proper amount of attention. Because the poetry world is small, we read the manuscripts blind (i.e. we don't know the names of the authors). We try not to read more than 10 submissions in one sitting so that reader fatigue doesn't creep into our assessment. Each submission is read by at least 2 (if not all 3) readers and discussed before going into the 'No' or 'Maybe' pile. 

2. Great work is rejected all the time. Deciding on the final manuscripts for publication means that I reject way too many wonderful manuscripts. The textile series is proud to have a pretty large Maybe pile.  Maybes are manuscripts that we have truly enjoyed. They are well written, innovative and aesthetically interesting. Maybes are revisited, re-read, underlined and notated with little exclamation points along the margins. We fight about the Maybes. We put off making decisions about the Maybes. Ultimately, I have to reject lots of Maybes. 

3. It's not fair.  Some manuscripts are in the right place at the right time. Writers have no way of knowing a publisher's current obsessions. There's an always-changing soup of influences and trends that drift me toward and away from certain manuscripts. Obviously the quality of the writing is important, but I'm lucky enough to have too much of great writing. The rest is just gut. In retrospect, I can trace some of my the past decisions to an obsession with Emily Dickinson, an interest in new pastoral forms, an affinity for handwriting and smudgy sketches. One chapbook manuscript actually helped me gather enough to courage to have a baby. I couldn't not publish it!

So where does that leave writers? Nowhere, as usual.  

I suggest submitting work to publishers with whom you would like to have a conversation. My press is a little community of poets and poems and objects. Open submissions is one way to make sure that community isn't too insular. Submitting your manuscript (even if it is rejected) is helping build and challenge that community.