Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Submitting Advice

Not from me but from Jeff Parker, who was recently interviewed at BookFox. He was asked how/where he decides to send stories, and if he had any advice for landing stories in journals.

Here's what he had to say:

"I don’t really strategize. Submitting stories for publication is roughly equivalent to buying scratch-off lottery tickets. Most of the time you get nothing. Sometimes you get five bucks. And every now and then you win the big money.

"People say send stories to journals that you like, but I don’t really understand the logic behind this. And by the way wouldn’t you, wouldn’t most writers, like any journal that wants to publish them? I would. I guess they are saying send to journals whose aesthetics hew to yours. That leads to weird ideas about writing though. Like, I write experimental so I’ll submit to Conjunctions. None of this business is really healthy. And my favorite journals -- Tin House, McSweeneys, N+1, Hobart, American Short Fiction, and others -- entertain different aesthetics.

"I’d say send any given story simultaneously to five big places and to five smaller/lesser-known places that seem like journals people actually read, and give it up to whoever gets back to you first. It’s always nice to get picked up by a big journal, but Aimee Bender taught me a long time ago that if you publish good work in small places, it sometimes has a better chance of going far. And most of my stories that have done something, been selected for an annual anthology or an award say, have all come from the smaller journals."

You can read the full interview here. He also has some interesting things to say about the differences between writing novels vs. short stories (something I'm currently grappling with).


Jason Jordan said...

I understand all the viewpoints on where to send stories and why. It's tough to stick to one MO, though, for me anyway.

Ethel Rohan said...

Cool, thanks for sharing. Gordon Lish gave the same advice to Carver :-) I go follow link now ...

Andrew Roe said...

I agree, Jason. I'm the same way.

I try to stick to submitting to journals I've read and am familiar with, but it's impossible to keep up -- at least it is for me. So sometimes I'll submit because of a publication's reputation, or because they've published writers I like or admire, or sometimes because of a gut feeling that the magazine would be a good fit for a particular story. It really varies.

I thought that Parker's comments were interesting because he argues against submitting to magazines you like/know, which is advice you often hear (and submission guidelines invariably state "read the magazine" before submitting).

Also interesting: when he said the stories that did the best were from smaller journals. It gives you hope.