Thursday, February 24, 2011

Literary Magazine Contacts Me

Imagine my surprise to get an actual personalized email from a very fine literary magazine, which has, I want you to know, rejected me once a long time ago.  Did the editor ask to see my finest craft or assign me a nice edgy column to write and/or cheeky story? No. He wanted me to publicize the following:
Hello: I'm writing with BOMB Magazine to tell you about our Fiction Contest, judged by Rivka Galchen. I'm thinking Literary Rejections on Display readers might be into it—the winner receives 500$ and their story gets published in our upcoming literary supplement. I'm hoping you make a blog post or tweet about it, so that we have a chance of getting some stories from your readers. The deadline is April 16, and full guidelines are here. Also, there's a Facebook Page. Best, Sam
So have at it, mice. Make all the LROD kingdom proud.


Anonymous said...

20 dollar entry fee for a 500 dollar prize seems a bit rich. GT has 15 dollar fee for 1200 dollar prize.

Come on.

Anonymous said...

I must be really cynical, but I don't see much cause to get excited over a journal wanting to use LROD as a way to advertise for more contest entries. Also, a $20 entry fee for a $500 prize sounds too high. Usually I'll pay a maximum of $20 for a $1,000 prize. $10 for a $500 prize is often considered more reasonable -- but of course, everyone must make their own decisions about which contests they wish to enter. And it does include a subscription to the journal, which is always nice.

I have nothing against this particular journal and I wish any LROD reader who enters the best of luck. Just wanted to add this info for anyone who might find it useful.

Writer, Rejected said...

Who's excited? I was only excited when I thought he wanted some fiction from me. I'm cool with advertising contests, as long as there's a good debate resulting--you yourself have brought up a good point there.

Native Ink said...

So do you mention that you run LROD in your cover letters? How's that been working out for you?

Radek said...

I haven't felt excited is a long time lol

that's DOCTOR pepper to you! said...

I don't follow the blog closely enough to know how this will be received by the commentariat, but here goes anyway.

Yes, the $20 fee for a $500 prize is exorbitant, and BOMB knows this full well. Why do they have such a high fee then? Because their underlying assumption is that most submitters are either students in creative writing programs or creative writing faculty. And in academia, students are professors are reimbursed for entry fees as a matter of course.

It doesn't matter what department you are in, I have a PhD in biochem, my partner has a masters in Psych. We were reimbursed for every conference we ever attended as grad students. There's no doubt in my mind that MFA students and writing faculty are similarly reimbursed. All graduate departments work this way.

And conferences and journals know that academics are reimbursed, so they purposely jack up the fees. They figure no harm since it's an institution losing money, not an actual person. God, I remember one conference that had a $150 registration fee, it was in a total shithole facility. I got back every penny of that fee too. (Well, after 3 months.)

I think it's a pity that lit mags work this way, because in principal they are supposed to be open to people outside of academic creative writing programs. I'm not associated with any MFA program, no one's going to cover my fees!

Is it done on purpose to drive away those on the outside? Or are some lit mags just that naive, not realizing that contest fees add up big time for those who must pay on their own?

Anyway WR, thanks for letting me have a say!

Anonymous said...

To answer/rebut Doctor Pepper (great username, by the way!):

I don't think literary magazines and journals are discriminating between MFAers and non-MFAers, really, with the fees. Sure, there's a certain amount of "who you know" that helps when you have contacts in the biz, but the money involved isn't a bid to shut outsiders out, because unless I am just hopelessly out of the loop, MFA programs don't generally reimburse their students for submission fees -- faculty, probably, but students, no.

In my experience, there's a big difference between conferences and contest entry fees, and MFA programs don't reimburse lowly grad students for entry fees or submission fees when they send out work -- it's considered to be solely your initiative and responsibility. If you win or get published, good for you (and the school), but you're on your own, like any other prospective writer, when it comes to the money aspect. Hell, I was lucky to get help on my registration fee when I went to the 2003 AWP conference in New Orleans -- and even then, I think they only paid half.

The "fees" business for prizes has always been a part of creative-writing submissions, and the prices tend to reflect the constant lack of funding for these magazines and journals -- most of them don't pay upon publication (or pay their employees), so any time they do have to give an author some cash, they have to subsidize it. What they do with the millions of overflow dollars that come in through the submission process, who knows? Buy cocaine and high-priced hookers, probably. Or buy copies of their own journal to make it look like subscriptions are up.

(If you want some real controversy, there's what in the humanities universe counts as major upheaval in the new trend in charging for submitting online, which was apparently a "thing" at the AWP conference this year. It's usually $3, and it's to offset costs -- just like any submission fee generally is in the low-income world of literary publishing.)

Now, granted, I got my MFA in 2003, so things may have changed; anyone else out there want to weigh in? Do most MFA programs now reimburse their students for fees like this? If so, I'd be interested to know!