Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Kenyon Review

That's the problem with electronic submissions.  Or do you think the poem was titled "4 poems--see file"?  A comment on modern communication?  See file.

10 comments:

CKHB said...

Hee. That's why I always FOLLOW DIRECTIONS when they say where to put the title of the submission...

Anonymous said...

That would be an awesome title.

jinka said...

It's the writer's own damn fault. Follow the damn directions. I'll let you in on a little secret...you know journals have so many picky formatting requirements? Well, if you don't follow them, they won't read your work.

If they say copy and paste the document and you send an attachment--they won't open the attachment. If they say .rtf and you send .docx--they won't reformat it to read your submission. If they say no curly quotes and no paragraph tabs and you ignore it--they won't read your submission.

These guidelines aren't arbitrary. If you know anything about coding, web design or databases, you know that funky characters and weird formatting may not render well when it comes to electronic submissions. Style changes can be made upon acceptance of your piece, but for the first go around, send it in the right f***ing format.

Web masters at these literary journals are not code monkeys who know nothing about literature; they are very often the editors who read your pieces. Do not piss them off with your maverick formatting and disregard of submission form directions.

That is all, carry on.

Don said...

I think I've seen this rejection somewhere else. The web-based submission program that everybody uses (it was developed by One Story's webmaster), is not well-suited for poetry, in that it assumes that there is a single title for the work being submitted. The instructions generally say to submit more than one poem at a time and to wrap them in a single file. But then there's that pesky "title" field to fill in with the submitter.

The rejections are actually programmable as well, and the default rejection follows more or less this wording, although some journals customize their rejection and in the process eliminate the title from the rejection (which can be a pain for people who don't carefully track their submissions).

So this isn't really a case of not following the directions as dealing with a program that's lacking a bit of the flexibility that it needs.

snoekbrown said...

Nice to know the people at the Kenyon Review have automated their rejection process as well as their submissions process. No no one has to read anything! A win for everyone?

And now I'll tell you the opposite story:

About a decade ago, my wife received a letter from National Library of Poetry (I know--bear with me) telling her they'd accepted her poem for their upcoming "anthology." Of course, my wife had never submitted a poem to NLP (and with good reason)--she just happens to have had a fairly common name before we got married. (No idea how they her address wound up in the database, though. This wasn't some random mailer--it was an actual poem some other person had written, reprinted with the acceptance letter.)

My wife wanted to tell them they'd contacted the wrong person and get off their mailing list, but there was no contact information listed anywhere. No addresses, no phone numbers, no e-mails. Not on the letter, not on the return-confirmation card, not online--there was no way for her to contact NLP and tell them they'd made a mistake.

So finally, she wrote a note on the confirmation card: "THIS IS NOT A POEM. You have contacted the wrong person. Please correct your database and remove me from your mailing list." And she mailed it in.

A few weeks later she got another letter from NLP. It read, "Congratulations! We have decided to publish your excellent poem, 'THIS IS NOT A POEM. You have contacted the wrong person' in our upcoming anthology!"

I sometimes wonder if it actually wound up in print, and how many other such "poems" appear in that edition.

sheesh said...

Sorry, Jinka, but you are more than wrong on this one. The editors should read/skim all the submissions they get, and if they like a piece they can ask the author to send it again with the proper formatting. To just send it back unread is just laziness, plain and simple. And do you want to tell me what kind of earth-shattering, time-sensitive, all-freaking-important work little literary journals are doing that requires them to be so efficient with their subs? It's a joke. Perhaps these kinds of "rules" help them feel as though they are doing real work.

By the way, yes, I did get a piece sent back to me recently. From Tin House. I neglected to to send with my unsolicited ms a receipt for a book purchased at a local bookstore. Now come on, Tin House! You think I'm not buying books because my story was unsolicited? Screw you.

jinka said...

The editors should read/skim all the submissions they get,

Why? You want us more than we want you. It's obvious from the overwhelming piles of slush that there are more wannabe published authors than journals or spaces in journals. You dance to our tune. Face reality.

I know as well as you do that the only people who read lit journals are other writers who want to get into lit journals. And with so many cookie-cutter-MFA-tales-of-middle-class-doldrums, we can be choosy. Why spend the extra work reformatting (more of a pain than you know) one piece of blah when there is an equally blah piece of blah in the proper format.

Get a clue if you want to play this game. Good luck to you with your life on the high horse. Sheesh indeed.

double sheesh said...

"Why spend the extra work reformatting one piece of blah when there is an equally blah piece in the proper format?" And I'm the one on a high horse?

At university lit mags there are throngs of undergrads and grad students who do the screening. These folks suddenly can't waste their precious time on the slush pile? Hell, it might do them some good to read the crap that's out there so they don't make the same mistakes. And if the material is really that bad, then it shouldn't take you too long to reject it. And if you're the editor of the little lit mag that you started with your own dollar and have built from the ground up...well, what the hell did you think you were getting yourself into? This is the job.

ssshhhheeeeeessssshhhh said...

P.S.--"Face reality"? Gimme a break. Lit mags have a tenuous at best relationship with reality.

Anonymous said...

a hopeless market!