23 May 2014

insider insights: an interview with matt larrimore

Matt Larrimore, poet, and editor of Four Ties Lit Review
This week, I’m happy to welcome poet and Four Ties Lit Review editor Matthew Larrimore to the Jungle! Last week, we got a little bit of Matt’s insight into publishing … now, I invite you to read on and enjoy some more of his perspective on submitting, acceptance rates, and more. And be sure to check out FTLR here.

Matthew Larrimore was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, and moved west in 2007. Since then he has lived in Colorado and now resides in Arizona. He received a Master’s degree in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing in May of 2012 at Northern Arizona University. He is the Founder / Editor of FourTiesLitReview.com. His own work has previously appeared in The Chimeras, The Crucible, Aproposthearts.com, and TheMinutiae.Blog.com.

How high or low would you say the acceptance rate is for Four Ties Lit Review?

Four Ties Lit
has been more selective as it has progressed, we know the volume of submission has only a little to do with the quality of our e-zine but it is gratifying and exciting to see so many folks want to be a part of 4Ties.  In Issue 1 Vol 2 we accepted more then 10% of the poetry submitted; 18 poems out of 158, that represents 18 out of the 38 poets who sent us work. For Issue 2 Vol 1: 87 poets sent us 287 poems we still only published 18, just over 6% but a fifth of the poets who sent us work. We're hoping to grow a bit more with this next issue. We'll expand from 18 poems if and when we start pushing the 3% mark on submissions or 10% of our submitters. The numbers have similar ratios for Fiction and Non-Fiction. Art is a different animal all together. I just wanted to note we're a really new review. The established, highest quality venues will have numbers that make this look amateur.

How often do you deal with "close but no cigar" situations with FTLR submissions? What do you do in those cases?

For most submissions it is business as usual, they get an almost-form-letter that me or one of my editors can personalize a bit.  But occasionally and especially with Issue 2  (partly because it was themed) we'd get a piece that almost makes it or we really like or appreciated what a writer was doing and wanted them to know it was hard for us to decide. We want to encourage the writers who submit to us. In those cases I'll write a specific letter to the individual letting them know exactly what we liked and didn't. We'll ask for edits too, for a fiction piece last summer, I asked for several edits to the story. The author agreed to most and we published the piece. I've been a part of journals where they've done that to poetry too, asking for a change in an image because it was a bit to cliché, an alteration in the syntax of a line or to just find a better title.

How often are you submitting your own work?

Not often enough. A great goal would be 20 submissions quarterly. I haven't hit that goal yet. Ideally it would be even more.

How do you cultivate your submissions?

I use NewPages or another site to find journals, I'll check them out, investigate their website, read a back issue, and if they seem like a good fit I'll submit. I try to bunch it as best I can, spending a few weeks concentrating to getting submissions out. I think keeping track of those places where you think your work fits in is a really good idea. In other words, even if you get rejected, resubmit for the next issue.

What do you dread most about the submission process? What do you love the most (beyond, of course, getting accepted)?

The work of finding new places to submit can be difficult, drudgery if you're not into it, but when I find one where I feel my work can flourish it's pretty great.

What advice would you give to writers sending out their submissions in the next few weeks and/or months?

Know who you are submitting to. What are they currently publishing? Does your work fit in with what they're looking for. Each publisher is trying to differentiate themselves from others, find their niche, cater to their readers. Send them pieces that help them achieve their goals and you'll have a better chance of getting published. 

Play the numbers game. You can assume that even rawest of venues is rejecting more then half of what they get so expect rejections, a lot of them, and more as you set your sites on being published with higher quality publishers.  If you want to get published put out a good number of submissions. As a fellow writer I'd like to tell you at least 10. As a publisher I have to tell you more than 20.

Don't jump the gun or miss the dead line. Check the submission requirements and meet them. A great way to get ignored is including five poems in one file when the publisher asks for five different files. I've seen good poems go by the way side for it or just simply forgetting to put you name or each poem or to not put your name on each poem. A good publisher who cares might let you know and give you a chance to fix it 'but when the same person is under a deadline and still has hundreds of poems to read, well not everyone is a conscientious as we'd like them to be.  Figure out exactly what the publisher wants and in what format and by when and deliver it as best you can.

How do you deal with the "dreaded" rejection slip as a writer?

It's part of my job as a writer. I don't like it any more than anyone else but it’s not personal. I do my best not be hurt. Disappointed, maybe momentarily but there are 1000s and 1000s of people who want to be published too. A rejection is an opportunity to revise and resubmit there or somewhere else.


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