Yesterday, I was one of 300 poets who got this message after submitting a manuscript to Scribner Poetry during their open submission period that would open at 3:00 p.m. on August 1 and would close after 300 submissions:
I was ready to go at 3:00 p.m. I had the manuscript updated and the document that has my bio open. I clicked on the webpage at 3:00 p.m. and didn't see a way to submit. I opened the page in a new tab and there was the form. I filled it in as quickly as possible and hit submit. And voila! I got the above message.
I was under no illusions; I knew the window would close shortly after 3:00, that 300 submissions would come in quickly. It was still surprise to go back and to see that it had closed in just minutes.
I only heard about this submission possibility a few days ago from a random Twitter tweet from a Twitter user I don't follow. For once, the unfathomable algorithm worked for me! I had wondered if I should submit at all, since my career isn't dependent on publications. But just because I didn't submit doesn't mean that slot would go to someone who desperately needed the chance.
I have a deep belief in my manuscript, and it's not just me; it's been a semifinalist, and I've gotten good feedback from publishers that I respect. I thought about spending part of yesterday before 3:00 p.m. reworking the manuscript and adding some of my most recent poems, but I decided against it. My most recent poems are going in a different direction in terms of form and content, so I'll save those for a different manuscript.
I'm familiar with the work of two other poets who got their manuscripts in, and I see them as peers. I'm not competing against well known poets; in fact, the call was specifically for poets who don't have an agent. My first reaction was "Poets have agents?" I realize that poets who have an agent are often writing in several genres and/or they've had a much more significant poetry trajectory than most of us will have.
The call was open to "poets from all backgrounds and levels of experience, whether they’re submitting a debut collection or they’ve published several collections over their lifetime." Scribners says that they will respond to every poet by the end of this year. I look forward to hearing what they say.