Ode To Butter

Lately, I’ve been really into submitting as much of my written work as I can to as many online publications possible. Ever since I was fortunate enough to have a travel piece published in the beginning of September (MANY thanks again to the Philadelphia Inquirer for the feature), I’ve learned a seemingly obvious lesson: your work won’t go anywhere if it doesn’t leave your desktop. And even if you don’t hear anything but radio silence or get a full on rejection email, at least you’ll know you put yourself and your words out there.

I recently submitted a poem I wrote to an online magazine whose next issue theme was “Clarify.” I, too confidently, also included an intense, detailed cover letter to the publication dictating why my piece was “perfect for your theme, Clarity.”


After realizing my mistake, I hastily sent a follow-up note making it known that I meant to type “Clarify.” Alright, only one letter off. Sort of similar definition. It could still work, right?

Wrong. Just a few minutes later, I got a response back. Was breathless as I opened it: Did they read my piece already and decide to accept it!?

…….Not exactly.

Anna, our theme is Clarify, as in clarified butter since the magazine is about food themes. Hope this helps, and the work still fits.

I felt my cheeks turning bright red as I read the email back. Every writer’s nightmare: to make it evident that you didn’t do enough background research on the publication before you sent your work in. I also quickly realized that I don’t know what clarified butter even is and that’s probably concerning. I immediately sent back an apology, with a frantic PS along the lines of  “please don’t even read my initial submission email, not remotely about butter/any kind of refrigerator staple, may die of embarrassment.”

So, thank you to this magazine for some valuable insight into how to go about online submissions. To all other writers who, like me, have barely skimmed a publication before sending in a piece of writing on a whim: it’s not too late to change. Thoroughly read and research the publication to which you are submitting your work simply because it’s the respectful and professional route to take.

Side-note: if your work does fit into a theme such as the above, more power to you. Get those margarine-inspired poems off of your computer and into the public eye.

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