Thursday, April 17, 2008

Get Some Friends in High Places...Now!

Kelly Spitzer gets real and asks a few editors/writers if they've ever been solicited/solicited others for manuscripts. The answers may make you start to think that getting published is who you know, not what you write. Seriously, some of the candid responses will make your hair curl. Check it out here.  

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Er... Excuse me. You didn't already know that you need friends in high places? That's primarily what an MFA degree is good for: contacts. Or you can do interviews. Anything to get your foot in the door.
The people interviewed in the article are small potatoes. Ask the Big Shots in the literary world about contacts. They're the true experts on the subject.

bookfraud said...

not that i was happy-go-lucky beforehand, but that made me want to throw myself off a tall building.

an mfa does provide good contacts; the best programs give you contacts with (emerging) fellow writers as well as faculty.

so, is it a sin to cultivate contacts among peers, and use them as one nurtures a career, as opposed to, say, sleeping with a professor to get an "in"?

Anonymous said...

If you jump from a tall building, will you wake up before contact? I ask because it's a dream to think that publishing should be any different from any other business, where connections matter more than quality of work. So either a.) you want to be published bad enough you're willing to be a schmoozer; b.) you keep your soul while your best pages remain in the slush pile; or c.) you try, like many who read this blog, to somehow navigate those polls in a way you can live with: you write for the love of it and make contacts where you can, and when a good break falls your way, you repay the favor by lifting up a fellow writer.

Anonymous said...

I'm well aware of the facts of literary life.
But aren't exclusionary contacts in the political and corporate world criticized? Remember the days when membership in country clubs -- where deals were made on the fourth green -- was barred to women, Blacks and Jews. Fair?
My advice to a young writer is to get into a prestigious MFA program and schmooze away; even sleep with your grizzled (or scrawny) professor, if you can stomach it.
I'm old, have no schmoozing skills, and, even back in the days when people wanted to get in bed with me, I was particular. I never wanted to feel sleazy.

Anonymous said...

It's all a joke. The literary journals are a joke. Most of what's in them is garbage. Yes, it's true. Most. Not all, but definitely most. DO NOT SUPPORT THEM IN ANY WAY. DO NOT EVER BUY A COPY OR EVEN SUGGEST TO SOMEONE THAT THEY BUY A COPY. Dry the university funding. Do not support the "Best American" series and their cronies. Do not buy commerical magazines owned by Hearst Corporation or Conde Nast, responsible for peddling filth, pushing the limits, and taking literature away from us. Keep writing but DO NOT SEND IT to these university journals.

PUC said...

I'm glad Kelly did this, because it is informative, and because what matters is that they disclose to their submitters what they are doing (particularly if a reading fee is being charged).

Anonymous said...

Contrary to the post bashing lit journals, most of the best stories I have read the last 20 years have come from them. They are grossly under-appreciated and your comment does not help matters at all.

Dave Clapper said...

Could you point out some of the quotes that support your claim that you have to "know" someone to get published? Because I didn't get that from it at all.

Writer, Rejected said...

I guess just the fact that it's a practice among editors (whether they like it or not, do it or not) means that they ask their friends (or established writers they like) while they are rejecting you. So if you became friends with them, you'd be asked too. Something like that makes me think it's who you know.

Dave Clapper said...

The fact that what's a practice? Soliciting? Soliciting "friends?" Hmmm. I'm still not seeing the solicitation of friends in the comments there. Did you read with that idea already in mind? Did you read the post about the slush pile as well? Personally, if the quality's there, I'd far rather publish from the slush than ever have to solicit at all. My reading was that most of the editors who solicited were only doing so when there wasn't enough strong material from the slush to have a complete issue, but then, that may be my own pre-conceived notion coming to the article, since that's typically when I solicit, and even then, it's mostly pieces I've seen in workshops that I solicit, rather than the names associated with the pieces...

I'm sort of wishing that I'd answered this round of questions this time now, but I felt like I'd already kind of covered it in my response to the question about the slush.

Writer, Rejected said...

Oh, yes, my friend...I read the comments. In particular, I read YOUR comment, which went like this:

"You don’t understand the anger in Ellen’s response? Maybe it’s because the asshat came in with a preconceived view of publishing and cherry-picked to find the quotes that agreed with him and then whined about it anonymously? Guy needs to grow some fucking balls."

Why so defensive about my thought that soliciting is a dirty little practice that leaves most very good writers on the outs? It's just an opinion, dude. And my "balls" are developed just fine, but thanks for your concern.