Saturday, October 11, 2014

Unreasonable expectations of literary journals

I write this entry to grant other writers struggling to get off the ground the same license I have granted myself. We all see when we go to submit to various journals that they tell us some form of "You should support us if you're going to submit to us," or "The best entries are from people who are familiar with our work."

Soooo....journals accept about 1% of their work. So really, if I want to go on odds, I need to submit a hundred times to get accepted once. That's a lot of submissions. I'm not going to read the heck out of you all before I do that. I like to read, but I have a day job, and a family, and it takes time to do all that and write. I can maybe read two or three journals a month.

So, here's what I've decided: I have paid subscriptions to two journals. I read a few more regularly that make their content free online. Other than that, I will be happy to support the heck out of your journal when you do one of two things: Publish a story so great it changes my life, or show you share my taste enough to publish me.

As soon as Baltimore Review puts out the edition with me in it, I'll planning to drop a decent donation on them. (I don't want to do it before, because I don't want to be seen as bribing them.) I think it's only fair I do the same for anyone else who publishes me. If they do something to help me get my stories out there, I'd like to help them to keep putting out stories.

But let's be real, literary magazines. Any decent journal is going to put out good stuff that will be similar to the good stuff in other good journals. There are more than enough talented writers to fill hundreds of journals with worthwhile short fiction. I know what quality writing looks like. So I think I have some sense of what belongs in your journal even if I haven't read everything you put out.

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