Tuesday, February 17, 2009

We Call Your Writing Work

Minnesota Review, second-tier journal, no capital letters in the logo, pitch for a two-year subscription: still rejected.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

to their credit, they actually composed a letter. most grad school teachers / students don't know how to do that anymore.

oh wait, this is 8 years old. well it's a good example of how form letter rejections used to be 10-20 years ago: an actual *letter*

CAPS MAN! said...

I HAVE CERTAINLY SEEN WORSE. IT SEEMS POLITE, TO ME. ALSO, ON WHAT BASIS ARE YOU DECIDING IT IS A SECOND-RATE JOURNAL?

Writer, Rejected said...

Oops, I meant second-tier. Will fix. Why are you yelling? :)

CAPS MAN! said...

I AM TRYING TO PROTECT MY IDENTITY AS IF PEOPLE FIND OUT WHO I AM MY HUGE BOOK DEAL MIGHT FALL THROUGH. THIS ALSO EXPLAINS THE FAULTY GRAMMAR AND LACKSADASICAL SENTENCES.

Writer, Rejected said...

Ahhh....of course....I should have known.

Estragon said...

I find it's best to stay away from submitting to magazines that publish criticism or have theme issues or like, essays on the social ramifications of American's pre-conceived notions about apartheid. These kinds of magazines aren't the place people go to for fiction so there's no point in submitting fiction to them. They usually only publish one story an issue and a handful of poems. Basically they're less interesting versions of the New Yorker. Any lit mag published by a college or university is usually one to stay away from as well. The readers are students who are constantly in workshop mode. They can't read a story without finding something wrong with it 'cause that's what they're required to do in class.

If you're trying to stories or verse, try to stick to independent lit mags that just publish poetry and fiction. Your odds are far higher.

Estragon said...

*If you're trying to PUBLISH stories or verse, try to stick to independent lit mags that just publish poetry and fiction. Your odds are far higher.

Sorry.

Anonymous said...

why is the minnesota review in missouri, in the first place?

Anonymous said...

Estragon: wise post. Hope to see you around more often.

John said...

10:01, I second the motion. Of course, we've had an anonymous guy here who claims to have published extensively in the academic journals (without, he insists, any sort of gamesmanship involved), and he tells us we're insignificant garden slugs, as these things go, if we're not in AGNI or The Missouri Review.

My actual experience is closer to Estragon's assessment, though.

Anonymous said...

good point anon 2:14am, if you look on the website, the minnesota review is now at cargenie mellon. is it like a bad chain letter that universities pass around?

Estragon said...

Thanks John and Anon. I have writer-friends who sweat over getting into academic journals, but at the end of the day I think it's really just associate professors from the creative writing department and their students who read them. Your average citizen-reader is more likely to pick up the independent lit mag that's produced in their state or town 'cause that's what their bookstore carries. Otherwise, whether it's AGNI or Glimmer Train, it's probably other writers who are buying lit mags and then only if they're in them. I don't see a lot of people on the subway or in the park with a copy of the latest Prarie Schooner, and I could count on one fingerless hand the number of times someone has ever said to me, "Oh I read the most interesting story in the last Sewanee Review."

As far as publishing credits go, agents and publishers just look for solid credits from mags that aren't hand-stapled. As writers I think it's beneficial to remember that (while getting rejected from any magazine is a drag) these top tier lit mags are only prestigious in the lit mag community.

CAPS MAN! said...

EVERYONE SEEMS TO KEEP SUGGESTING WHERE TO PUBLISH IN THE NEGATIVE. WE NEED SOME POSITIVE SUGGESTIONS SEND HERE WHY NOT TRY HERE I MEAN FINE THE NEW YORKER, ATLANTIC, HARPER'S, THESE ARE NO BRAINERS. SO? AGENTS DO READ LIT JOURNALS SO I THINK ESTRAGON IS GETTING A BIT EXCITABLE WITH HIS BEHIND THE SCENES POPPY NONSENSE.

John said...

Daniel Henninger had a piece in the Wall Street Journal a year or so ago that basically said there was no longer a literary center. I've got to go along with that. Publishing in any big-name market, it seems to me, is a combination of satisfying their fear of any risk and old-time gamesmanship. The agents and editors are just as risk-averse and open to whatever game you're willing to play, it seems to me.

The online zines are anybody's guess as to which is better-read and more presitigious than another, though it would be interesting to see a link to someone's stab at such a list. The ones I've seen are a couple of years old, and a number on any such list have gone belly-up.

But I don't see that as a reason not to publish. The answer is duotrope, duotrope, duotrope.

Anonymous said...

No I love what E. is saying. I agree completely. You may differ but it depends on your goals. Me I despise academia and everything it stands for. And especially the academic journals. They're not for me. I've never bought one. I've read them and am bored by all of them. It's all schoolteachers. I don't like or get along with schoolteachers. As "writers" I think they're all lame. Posers, too, when they try to be "hip" and dress "cool" and swear a lot in class. Everything they do is such a bore. Their stories, their poems, they're all basically the same. Empty. But that's all the journals do. Look in the credits sometime and see. It's gross. And it's not representatitve of life or of contemporary literature at all -- no, it just represents the safety and security of life inside the schools. The lemming mindset of these journals means that whole types of literature are being excluded. Not that they care. They don't pay, after all, and (as E. noted) nobody reads them. It's just for English departments. I'm not part of that. I am looking for readers. I am trying to have an effect. I want my stories to appear somewhere where people will read them. I want people to talk about them. I want this to be my job. I want to entertain people out there in the world. Very different from the life and goals of teachers and all their tiny credits and collections. We are talking about two different worlds, two different things.

Estragon said...

Duotrope, huh? Thanks for the recommendation, John. I've been using NewPages' Lit Mag list: http://www.newpages.com/NPGuides/litmags.htm

I'll definitely give Duotrope some attention.

Anonymous said...

John, Jeff Bahr made a program that is able to track and (approximately) rank these markets. His list is slanted to poetry, so it's incomplete, but it has commercial, academic, and independent small press outlets. As for the most current web fiction markets, I suggest the best measures are pay and hits. Pay is easy to determine. Hits take a little more work. Use alexa or another web ranking service to see if it's a site that gets eyeballs.

John said...

I'll check some of these others. Pay, for zines, doesn't mean a whole lot, since few pay more than the $10-50 range (and collection is often an issue). I've had several rejections from Glimmertrain that go "Thanks! Good Writing!" or "I liked this!" (so why the bleep didn't you BUY it??)

I think if you look at what's published on the sites identified as paying in duotrope, you'll find no real difference in quality from the non-paying sites, and no difference among web only, web and print, or print only. It's a tossup.

The New Pages listing is a pain in the rear end to use, as so many markets there are dead or out of date, and it's hard to identify ones that want electronic vs postal subs. In effect, I think it's biased toward the old model.

John said...

I looked at both the Jeff Bahr list and Alexa. The Bahr list seems to rank the journals by how hard they are to get into, but that just pretty much says the traditional lit journals are very hard to get into without playing one or another game. Doesn't tell me much that's new!

Alexa has the problem of basically ranking every site against Drudge or Yahoo, and if you aren't those, then you're so far down the list as not to make much difference. No lit zine is going to rank anywhere near Drudge, by orders of magnitude. So again, any ranking will be too imprecise to help.

A better ranking would be by quality of what's run. Where can we find that?

Estragon said...

JOHN SAID "The New Pages listing is a pain in the rear end to use, as so many markets there are dead or out of date, and it's hard to identify ones that want electronic vs postal subs. In effect, I think it's biased toward the old model."

Oh, see I go to each mag's webpage and check to see how much they pay, if they're affiliated with a school, word count, when they accept, so on and so forth. It's take a bit of time, but I've compiled a list of about twenty magazines that publish work similar to my style of writing and most of which pay (the ones that don't I keep submitting to because they took the time to give me feedback and encouragement when I was first submitting). Out of the twenty I can almost always count on an acceptance from one of them.

I'm not suggesting that this is how things should be done, just sharing my system.

Anonymous said...

John, we'd have to make our own. I don't know how such an effort would work on a blog like this. Of course we could begin to list them out, and list the ratios of quality to non-quality work. Might work better with a wiki or some kind of data base. That said, if something like this came about I would gladly contribute.

I agree about the tossup in quality between different kinds of magazines. I have a few favorites but no magazines that I'm latched on to. The general feeling I have now is cultural desertion. As for all the current markets, none of them seem to really be in the public eye. I'm looking for a magazine that has nothing to do with an Eng. dept. and that real people actually seek out and read. I think the closest thing would be the online McSweeney's, but it's really a humor mag and is much too "clever" ... it's a 21st century Mad Magazine for educated adults, while I want something like the old Smart Set or Collier's. Or the Gingrich Esquire, but something even more vital. Something that says, "This is a movement going on." I would think it would have to be online, because that's just how the world is set up now.

Congrats for getting a peep out of Glimmertrain.

John said...

Well, a movement might be a bit much, since that involves manifestoes, and every editor who has a manifesto on his zine, much as I might agree with what he says, finds some reason why he hates my stuff. A movement is a little too Ezra Pound.

But if something could show people that something's going on! This is one reason why all the anonymous posts on this site are problematic. Don't people have enough faith in their own work to say who they are? That would limit any attempt to come out of the woodwork, it seems to me. Doesn't have to be here. In fact, it probably shouldn't be here, since the intent of a new effort would be to identify worthwhile places to submit, not to complain about rejection.

french tarragon said...

John says, "A better ranking would be by quality of what's run. Where can we find that?" I find it in my head, as I suppose most other writers do when they submit.

I don't give a rat's ass if the journals I submit to are deemed to be 4% good, 37% ok, and 59% crap by some self-proclaimed journal rankers. I submit to journals that appeal to me, that I would be proud to be in.

Any writer who would base their submissions decisions even partially on the John 'n' Estragon 'Zine Ranker Authoritah Website shouldn't be submitting period. You know how lit mags' guidelines always say to read what they publish to see what they like? It's not a half bad idea, because not only do you get to see what they like, you can also find out what you like.

Do the research on your own to find out who prints crap and who prints quality.

Estragon said...

french tarragon said: "Any writer who would base their submissions decisions even partially on the John 'n' Estragon 'Zine Ranker Authoritah Website shouldn't be submitting period. You know how lit mags' guidelines always say to read what they publish to see what they like? It's not a half bad idea, because not only do you get to see what they like, you can also find out what you like."

What the hell, man? I said I spend time researching each mag to find out who publishes work similar to my own writing style. I didn't say a thing about zine ranking or qualifying quality. Pay attention, your reading comprehension sucks.

CAPS MAN! said...

TO KEEP THINGS IN THE BLACK HERE IS A LINK TO THE BEST LIT JOURNAL RANKING I'VE FOUND

http://perpetualfolly.blogspot.com/2008/12/2009-pushcart-prize-rankings.html

John said...

That's interesting, though it's basically just the conventional wisdom in operation again, with Ploughshares at the top and the usual suspects all the way down, nearly all academic-related. Judging from the comments there, nobody'd better say their content is boring!

The more pertinent question is where is the interesting stuff happening?

Anonymous said...

"The more pertinent question is where is the interesting stuff happening?"

As far as I know, it really isn't.

That's the huge problem.

ow my penis said...

vague questions...broad generalizations...questions with no answers....answers with no questions...the meaning of life and letters...it's all too infinite for my finite mind....caps man give me the strength to capitalize on this wisdom laid (thread)bare in this thread....i shrivel....

Anonymous said...

John, don't you think it has to be more than a bit much? Completely over the top? It has to be wild and dangerous and real. Think about it. Who really has movements anymore? I mean real movements. Who has enough faith in a unique vision that is in total opposition to everything out there? No one. Nobody does this. Everything out there is a total bore, a stereotype, a poser game. That's why it would be so great. Not a lame "we want to publish the best writing around, we are unique and different"; every zine says this. No. This would address some of the underlying issues brought up here on this blog. It would be something completely new. Have nothing to do with university programs and the MFA people. It would be new. It would speak to people, to the unserved minority out there who want quality and who hate the media. It would show these people where it's at.