I spent the day organizing some submissions and feeling immersed in the business side of the writing life and thought I'd pass along some useful information:
1. Poets & Writers offers a good database of literary journals with their reading period clearly listed. I found the links to be a bit cumbersome, so I googled titles in a new tab when I was interested in reading more about a journal and then added it (or not) to my list. Check it out.
2. Here’s a (long) interview with agent Eric Simonoff, filled with interesting insights about the biz:
"Do you think the short story collection is in a commercial renaissance?I certainly hope so. It’s a great American art form. In terms of WME’s ability to sell them in translation, we have a big foreign rights department, and we never sell translation rights to publishers. We reserve those rights to the clients and sell them internationally. There are territories that we find it very difficult to sell short stories in, in which it is very easy to sell novels. Some of the best short story collections do find a lot of foreign pickup, but it usually takes a certain amount of massaging to get publishers on board internationally.
"Domestically, I think publishers would still say that in the aggregate, novels far outsell story collections. Every year there are notable exceptions. The question is, how many? In recent years, between Daniyal Mueenuddin and George Saunders, and Junot Díaz, Nam Le, Jhumpa Lahiri, Edward Jones, there have been a number of commercially successful short story writers. But each year probably doesn’t allow more than four or five.
"In the case of George Saunders, or in the case of Sam Lipsyte, who’s a new client of mine—he used to be with Ira Silverberg, a friend and a phenomenal agent who left agenting—there’s a feeling almost of, “Now it’s time.” In the case of George Saunders, or in the case of Sam Lipsyte, who’s a new client of mine—he used to be with Ira Silverberg, a friend and a phenomenal agent who left agenting—there’s a feeling almost of, “Now it’s time.”
"You’d think that in a short-attention-span age, it’d be much easier to sell story collections than novels. Yet the initial investment a reader makes in establishing where he is in a fictional landscape is only made once in a novel, but is made ten times in a story collection. Short story collections ask a bit more of the reader than novels do.
"In literary fiction, there is usually work associated with figuring out where you are in each short story, who is telling the story, what the parameters of the world being described are. In a novel, once you get your feet wet in the first fifty pages or so, you can kind of glide on through."
3. Thanks to writer Anna Leahy for steering me to this excellent article with advice about how writers should (and shouldn’t) use social media:
"Act like NPR
NPR provides great content 365 days a year. A few days a year it runs pledge drives. No one I know likes the pledge drives, but we tolerate them — and some of us even give money. Why? Because NPR has earned the right to promote its pledge drives by providing such great content. This is a good model for authors too: Provide such great content that you can promote your book when it’s done. If you do this very well, people may want to reciprocate for the value you’ve added to their lives by buying your book. So just imagine you are the producer of “Fresh Air” or “All Things Considered” and look for interesting content."