Tuesday, July 26, 2011

At Ploughshares We Enjoy You, But Not Enough

Thanks very much for submitting your work to Ploughshares. Although we regret that your manuscript does not fit our current editorial needs, we enjoyed it and hope you'll consider us again. Sincerely, The Editors
I'm convinced you need to know someone at Ploughshares (in that insular New England way of Boston) to get published there. Or maybe that's just my own personal delusion about the place.


Anonymous said...

Oh I super agree. And I don't think its just bitterness that makes me think that.

Anonymous said...

ploughshares is strange but if they like you then they publish you billy Collins .

caps man said...

The strange thing is why any of us care. The truth is, and I'm sure it has been bandied about before here, agents and publishers don't give a sh*t about short stories. All that really matters is a novel. You can publish your butt off in Ploughshares or Missouri Review and if that is your bag, great. But don't expect it to go anywhere significant. And it is a silly hope anyway. You need to know someone, and you need to get pass twenty-year old interns, who are smart, sure, but harried, half on their phone half on their e-submissions (the missouri review crew once tweeted something like, hey, staring out this open window at the summer outside and reading submissions at the same time!). It's weird: the odds are stacked TOTALLY against you, and even if you get accepted, it doesn't matter to your career (assuming you want to go on and publish a decent novel and get some cash for it). If law school is like a pie eating contest where the winner gets to eat more pies, submitting short stories to magazines like ploughshares is a sh*t eating contest where the winner gets to feast on the whole damn latrine.

Anonymous said...

WOW, CAPSMAN -- some of the invigorating anger of the past again on display at Display.
What do I have in common with a twenty-year-old? Nothing.
What credentials do I have to impress Ladette Randolph or Junot Diaz or Deborah Treisman? None, and credentials are what gets your work on their desks.
The only reason we writers give power to editors and agents (see w/r's many revisions based on an agent's suggestions) is because they're the gatekeepers. They have no real qualifications, yet we fawn and grovel.
I say "we," but I've withdrawn from the competition. The game is demeaning and crooked and futile.

Writer, Rejected said...

Well, when you put it like that, Anony, I actually wish I w/could quit. Oy.

Anonymous said...

It's not that hard, really. You just have to give up the ego thing.
It feels nice to stop jumping through the flaming hoops they set up for you (as if you were a trained poodle in a sideshow). Anyway, after you jump through them they still have some trumped up reason to reject you.
Write, if you must. Share your work with friends and others. I sent a story to a friend, she passed it on to her mother, the mother had it read by a reading group she was in. So fifteen people read and discussed it and shared their reactions with me.
I haven't submitted it to any magazine. Why bother?
BTW, how many people read the stuff they publish in literary journals? A handful.

caps man! said...

if i had the the time, and this would be a long term project, i would really want to sit down and quantify the amount of acceptances decent journals give to writers out of the blue. after that, i'd like to think about the amount of writers who go on from a pub in, say, ploughshares, to hook an agent (based on the pub) and then sell a novel. we are talking maybe a tenth of a percent. less than that. idiotic! the only thing to do is to write a novel. i have friends who are writing short stories, and i tell them: this is great; it will teach you how to write a novel. you will learn skills to apply to your novel. but don't take this seriously. you can't! a tenth of a percentile!

another long term project: you remember when Romney wrote that Op-Ed in the Times, "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt." Hell, sometimes I wonder if we shouldn't do the same thing about these lit journals. Let's face it, if you are selling five hundred copies, you need to make a plan, Stan. Because that is not a figure to cuddle up at night with. It's a joke. I don't believe in the market above all else, but these lit journals, shielded by the ivory tours, have gone so rotten and putrid they make me sick and i wish the tide of the market would sweep them away. much of the prose in these journals, ploughshares included, is about as clean and satisfying as the water flowing out of my rectum.

Lit J said...


I like the notion of other people reading my work, just by word of mouth, by passing it around. So I do that AS WELL as submit to literary journals. I get eyes through every channel I can.

Anonymous said...

CAPSMAN -- You say forget about the stories and go for the novel. Is it easy to get a novel published? Or is it the same old crap?

Anonymous said...

After two submissions/ rejections to Ploughshares I'm convinced that to be accepted you either must know someone there, be solicited by a third party in the publishing world, or have an MFA. It is unfortunate that elitism sets today's standard for the American short story.