This bit of brilliance was submitted anonymously via email:
By Waldo EisenbergDead Editors,
We love you. We really do. You do the important work of sifting the chaff from the wheat, which the literary community needs. But there are some behaviors that must stop. Shape up a bit. Act like a professional. Be more like an editor and less like a despot. We promise: If you leap these ten pitfalls, our love will have no limits.
1. “Glacial”: Journals That Take Over A Year To Respond To Your Manuscript
Yeah, I’m thinking of you, Zoetrope, Mr. I’m-Funded-By-A-Billionaire-But-Can’t-Afford-Slush-Pile-Readers. But worst of all is Notre Dame Review, which claims in correspondence that their editor requires two years to consider a manuscript.
2. “Incommunicado”: Journals That Never Answer Email Queries
Dear Open City—This is my third query about a twenty-month-old manuscript. Will you never answer? Will you never get back to me? Do you ever read your email? Because seriously, if I can’t trust you to read email, do I really trust you to be able to read my story? (same three-queries-unanswered goes for you, Columbia Journal of Literature and Arts).
3. “Anal”: Journals That Limit Submissions To Once A Year
Or once a reading period, same thing. Honestly, Potomac Review, you think we want to wait ten years to be published? We know that you don’t want to get flooded with manuscripts from hacks, but seriously, since you take four months to get back to people, why don’t you bump it up to at least two a year, or perhaps three. Be a kind journal. Play nice.
4. “Inbred”: Journals That Only Publish Their Friends
Newbie writers, or writers outside the lit journal world, think this is a flaw common to all journals. Quite the contrary, it only applies to some. But Sewanee Review, when you publish four fiction stories, and it’s an event—such an event that it needs announcing—that one of the writers is “New” to the journal, then we all know that your “reading” usually consists of nudging fellow professors. When everyone is a “longtime contributor,” there’s no room for anyone else.
5. “Pickpocket”: Journals That Require Fees For Regular Submissions
An evil trend has started: even though it would be unthinkable for a journal to charge for over-the-transom mail submissions, apparently it’s not verboten to charge for electronic submissions. Tisk, tisk. Cut out that greediness. Poor writers don’t need to be charged for the privilege of you deleting their manuscript after a paragraph. Missouri Review, American Short Fiction, Sonora Review, Massachusetts Review, Meridian, Narrative: Yes, we’re staring you down.
6. “Stonewalling”: Journals That Don’t Accept Fiction Manuscripts
Seriously, Brick and Mississippi Review, did it just start being too much work to look for the newest generation of writers? Was the slush pile too big, or too disappointing? Was it much easier to just take referrals and recommendations? Because the slush pile is the essence of democracy: everyone’s got a shot. Refusing to look at manuscripts is a little despotic. The only notch in your favor is that, unlike some inbred journals, you actually admit you’ve stopped reading.
7. “Bait-And-Switch”: Journals That Sucker In Unwanted Submissions
Listen, New Delta Review, if you insist on sending me cursory rejection letters five days after every submission saying “There is no room left in the upcoming issue,” then why don’t you stop accepting submissions? Maybe a nice note on the website, saying, “The Issue is Full,” so hundreds of writers don’t waste postage on you. It’s just basic courtesy.
8. “Archaic”: Journals That Don’t Accept Electronic Submissions
Exclusively accepting postal submissions is like being in the dark ages. It’s like a publisher who refuses to make their books available on the Kindle, or a magazine editor who doesn’t have a website. Plus, while you’re bellyaching about not having enough funding, writers are spending tens of millions of dollars a year on postage: ever think that some of that cash could be diverted from the United States Postal Service to your journal? Just a thought.
9. “Wasteful”: Journals That Ask For Two Copies
Seriously, Hunger Mountain and Connecticut Review, this is the opposite direction of electronic submissions. You really want us to pay for printing TWO copies of our story, plus the extra postage? The only submissions you’ll get will be from the truly desperate hacks.
10. “Naïve”: Journals That Don’t Accept Simultaneous Submissions
First of all, if you don’t reply in under a month, you don’t get the right to refuse simultaneous submissions. If you do reply in under a month, then writers could still send simultaneously to you, because no other journal will say yes or no by the time you’ve responded. But it’s laughably ridiculous to have a policy like Descant, which says on its website “No Simultaneous Submissions” next to a disclaimer that their editors take up to a year to respond.
Bonus: “Apartheid”: Journals That Only Publish Fiction Separately
BOMB magazine, we saw you switched to that annual First Proof thing, cordoning all your fiction to separate pages, just like the Atlantic Monthly. Zoetrope – what’s with publishing your contest winners only online instead of in the print magazine? Let your fiction play with the other writing. Segregation is so ’60s.