Star*Line Submission Guidelines,
in microscopic detail
Modus operandi: For Star*Line, ideally, you would send 3–5 poems at a time, single-spaced, pasted into the body of one e-mail, no oftener than once per month. “Do not send multiple submissions” means not to send another submission until the first has received a reply. We also don’t want to see one poem on the heels of another, sent individually. A submission of 3–5 poems is standard for most journals that publish poetry; the idea is to send a small selection of available work, if possible. If you have only one brilliant speculative poem, go ahead and send it.
Specificity, extraneous: We don’t need line or word count. Neither has anything to do with our editorial process at Star*Line. Also, if your poem needs explaining in your cover letter, please revise it until it doesn’t.
Biospheres: We actually don’t need to know anything about your previous publishing credits, education, employment, or other facts about your life. Star*Line doesn’t include bios, sorry. (Unless you are an alien; that’d be cool.) And no matter where else you submit, we guarantee that they want to see no more than five publication credits listed. Please, no discourses on personal philosophy or how you’ve always wanted to be a writer. And leave off the multitude of your websites, blogs, and the cute quote from your e-mail signature. Do include the byline under which the poem should be published, a mailing address for your contributor’s copy, and your PayPal account e-mail, if you have one.
Extending tentacles: Do not attempt to “friend” or otherwise establish a connection with the editorial address on FB, LI, or any other social media. All such attempts will be ignored. Well, actually, cursed at and deleted.
Detailing: Check spelling. Check syntax and grammar. Check punctuation. Fact-check. Have others proof your work. Run your poem by non-familial beta readers or a critique group. Typos and poor construction give an impression of carelessness and incompetence rather than insouciant spontaneity. Our definition of speculative poetry involves, of necessity, some sort of narrative, present or implied. If a poem is incomprehensible with regard to content, it probably will not fly here. If you’re uncertain, please send it!
Rhyme: We are enthusiastic about poetry in form, properly executed. See Lewis Turco’s Book of Forms (or any other decent literary reference) for what is meant by “form.” Unfortunately, many of the submissions we receive consist of poems that are a string of clichés with stale and predictable endrhymes and no attention to meter. When the poem is too vague or incomplete to allow the reader to figure out what’s going on, this is a problem; so is a poem with trite or unnecessary fluff inserted to fill out a line or complete a rhyme. We much prefer good free verse to bad formalist work.
Reason: Ask yourself whether the basic theme of the poem is one that’s been overused. Genre fiction journals have lists of hackneyed plots they never want to see again; the same is true of genre poetry venues. If you must recycle an archetype or retell a classic myth, make it original in some way that is uniquely your own.
Time: You should receive a response from Star*Line within three days in the normal course of events. By all means inquire if you don’t hear back within a week!
Space: Star*Line page count is limited by printing and postage costs. Because it is virtually impossible to know what announcements may need to be included in each issue and how much room additional content will occupy (printing is by multiples of 4 pages), accepted poems may occasionally need to be bumped to the following issue. All works accepted will be published within six months of acceptance.
Privacy: Identified poems submitted to Star*Line will never be shared with anyone other than editorial staff or SFPA officers. Cover letters containing threats of death or material harm to the editor will be shared with police; threats to others will be evaluated on the basis of merit; threats within a poem will be assumed to be hyperbole.
The editor may discuss submissions privately with adjunct staff or discreet beta readers, or publicly refer to submissions anonymously in such a way that the poet cannot be identified by others, or as part of a statistic, e.g., “70% of submitters address me as Mr. Bergmann; while I try not to let this color my opinion of their work, I retain a sneaking fondness for the solitary poet who addresses me as ‘Esteemed F.J.’” What I won’t do is name a poet and discuss any part of their submission publicly.
Lucre: Work will be paid for within three months of publication. Steps in this process may involve waiting to find out just before printing exactly what poems will fit in the issue, counting words in each poem, waiting for replies from contributors who negelcted to furnish payment information with their submission, sending the list to the treasurer, who then has to make each payment individually and record the transaction. Gaps in the process may occur as we become employed, ill, wait for necessary funds to trickle in following unforeseen expenses, or engage in non-productive leisure activities. We would be happy to send additional contributor’s copies in lieu of payment.
Xenophilia: Star*Line now includes speculative poetry translated into English from other languages, and we would love to see more from non-Anglophone poets and translators. We are at present able to translate works submitted in French, German, and Spanish. Note that translated poems are eligible for Rhysling and Dwarf Stars awards.
Reviews: To review speculative poetry books for Star*Line, please e-mail the editor. Due to the labor involved in transcription, reviews will only be accepted via e-mail; attached .rtfs preferred. Because we prefer to give preference to poetry itself, reviews in Star*Line itself henceforth will be limited to short excerpts; however, reviews in their entirety will appear on this website; see the Reviews page. A flat fee of $3.00 will be paid regardless of review length to solicited reviews and those selected for Star*Line; other submitted reviews will be posted online only. Due to limited space, periodicals will not be reviewed in Star*Line.—F.J. Bergmann, Star*Line editor