Monday, December 15, 2008

More on Submitting Work (Obsessive Edition)

As you may recall, I’ve been whining lately (here, here, here, here, and here) about various aspects of the submission process, which truly is a necessary evil. I had taken a break from sending work out last year, but because I wrote a number of shorter pieces over the summer, I’m back in the game…and am remembering how pleasant the break was.

Interestingly, my poll asking whether it’s better to get rejected after (a metaphorical) six months or six days revealed that not everyone is as big a baby as I am. People were generally happy to move on with their lives with the six-day rejection and were content to assume that the six-month rejection meant that at least a live person had considered their work. So…I’ll just roll with the punches, I guess, and take my punishment. (Of course what beats either of those options? An acceptance! I’d happily take one of those, too.)

I was interested in the comments that poet John Guzlowski left at the site where the poll is, commiserating with the difficulty of getting published in a journal these days and suggesting that the path to publication goes through either knowing the editor or having enough name recognition to get past the dim-wits at the gate (my phrasing, not John’s!). For his full text, go here, and click on “view results,” then on “comments.”

At first I was dismayed because I’ve never bought into this idea that “you have to know someone” in the publishing world. Yes, that may open some doors, but doesn’t good writing trump all, at least at some point? I’ve had several agents, and none of them were people I “knew”; none were personally recommended to me. I’ve had more than 60 short stories published, most of them in journals that I selected for a variety of reason, and most edited by people I’ve never met.

Still. Maybe that was then and this is now. The literary journal market feels tighter than ever, and these comments made me realize that many of my more recent stories and essays that have made it into print, have been in journals that have previously published my work, making me “known” in a certain sense. Maybe John is right--?? I hate to think so.

Finally, I like submitting online for the convenience and speed of the process (not to mention no dead trees factor and the saving $$ on stamps). As I mentioned before, I was alarmed that under my “account” at various journals I (and the editors, I assume) can view an instant record of my previous rejections. Now, I see that at least at one journal, there’s a notation that I’m now a subscriber. I’m sure that doesn’t really matter in the end…does it?


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.