Four and a Half Lit Mag Quirks

I had to give over looking through lit mags until today.  Between the caffeine and the cascade of open windows I’d lost my ability to focus.  Today I took more a sniper’s angle on the issue than a lawnmower’s and sorted each site one link at a time.  I found several more good magazines but I also came up with a list of oddities, quirks that certain journals seem to fall into.

1) The editors who begrudge simultaneous submission.  The fastest turn around I’ve seen advertised for a paying journal is two weeks.  If one had to wait two weeks not even to receive a paycheck but to know whether or not he might he can’t be blamed for taking on a second job.  Yes, in this case it’s the same job shopped around, but there’s no guarantee the first, second, or fifteenth place will even take it.  Only submitting a piece to one journal at a time is hell on writers (especially when the reply dates fell more commonly into the six to nine week range than they did a month).

1a) All of that from editors of journals who pay next to nothing (or sometimes, actually nothing).  I suppose being published is meant to be enough, but it’s rather hard to feed yourself with a stack of bylines.

2) The by-mail submission only magazines.  I know Submittable charges.  I know email is messy.  But if a journal has an online presence, worse, when it publishes online, there’s no reason for it not to accept online submissions.  Perhaps this is a demonstration of solidarity with the post office or a sign of defiance in the face of green sensibilities, but I can’t see a reason for relying on snail mail when there are myriad other ways to accept submissions.  The worst offenders are the ones who not only demand multiple print copies, but who also require return envelopes so that they can mail you their decisions.  The absolute dregs are the ones who are then snarky about it.

3) The fake payments.  There are several search engines for finding paid writing work, but the most reliable (outside of user constructed lists, which are tops) is Poets & Writers.  There several criteria by which one can search, one of which is paying / non-paying.  If you were to select paying (especially when the option of payment you’ve selected is “cash”) you might be rather miffed to discover the third journal you’ve spent the last five minutes vetting actually does not pay.  If you don’t pay, fine, but don’t pretend you do.  Byline is not payment.  Publication is not payment.  To be published in a paying journal is to have both of those things and enough for a meal.  Denoting oneself as a paying journal when one offers any other form of payment than money is fairly shitty.

4) The mutes.  A lot of journals get a lot of submissions.  Answering every query or responding to every submission would be overwhelmingly taxing. But, they make programs for that.  If you don’t like paying for Submittable, charge a submission fee.  Build your own as Agni and One Story and countless others have.  Or, at the absolute minimum, set up an automated response for the email account to which writers send their submissions.  The only thing worse than waiting to hear back on a piece is waiting to hear back on a piece you don’t know has even made it to the right place.

That’s enough ranting for today.  Sorting through several dozen journals tends to make a singular, minor annoyance into a repetitious grievance.  A good litany of complaints does wonders for the nerves.

Tomorrow, how about a return to flash fiction friday of the fortune cookie variety?