10.16.2005

The All Nude Review!


Snark Quote 1.
Miss Snark writes "I look for short story publications before I look for contest winners just FYI."

Snark Quote 2.
Miss Snark asserts "if someone tells me they've been published by a small house that uses POD the burden of proof for "is it crap" shifts to them."

Where do Internet literary sites fall in this debate? A lot of reputable magazines keep online versions (Mississippi Review, McSweeney's, etc...) and some online sites publish quality fiction and have the same editorial process of submission. The question I guess is, what do you see when a query letter has publications from online journals? Is that still looked on as being silly, or are online ventures (like OpiumMagazine and Pindleyboz, who coincidentally launch print versions from their online content) gaining some ground in respectability?


We need to be clear about how I read query letters first. I read your cover letter. Mostly they are crap but I ignore that cause most authors can't write good cover letters to save their lives. What I want to know first in the cover letter is what I'm reading. Is it a mystery? Chick lit? YA thriller? Then I want to know just enough about the plot to make me think it sounds interesting (the hook).

Then I want to know if you know anything about publishing, or if you've been published by someone who looked at your work critically. This is where the part about contests comes in, and now, the question about internet literary sites.

The key part of any publishing credential is whether the work was subjected to editorial review. If anyone can post to the Killer Yapp Dog and Pony Show book chat...those posts are not subject to editorial review and they carry no weight with me.

Contests are problematic in many times that I don't know who judged them. If you win a contest and you know who the judge was, say so. A contest judged by Stephen King is going to carry more weight than a contest judged by some anonymous literary agent (Miss Snark includes herself in that stellar group).

Which brings us to online sites. If I don't know the publication (and there are a lot of small literary mags I don't know off the top of my head) and IF YOUR SAMPLE PAGES ARE GOOD, I google your writing credentials. When I look at the site and see the submission requirements I make a decision about whether I think it has merit.

Remember though, writing trumps everything. You can have no, zero, zip, zilch writing credits and if you write well, I'll read it. You can have a million publication credits, and have won every contest you entered, and if I think the writing sux, you're not getting into the pool.

2 comments:

Ellen said...

Excellent information here, Miss Snark. I posted a link for my writer friends who are in the query stage, and I think this will be a help to many. Thanks!

idrather_not_say said...

What if, in the past, let's say right out of highschool, you went through an indie publisher who used POD, claimed to be a real publisher, but instead was a vanity press.

Let's say that even though you never mention it in your cover letter, the published book (now out of print) is the first thing that comes up when you google the name.

I really want to know if this would hurt someone's chance.