College lit publication credits

All Hail Miss Snark and her entorage of Geogre Clooneies!!! (Did you know I had to google to figure out who he was and what he acted in? Yes, yes I know I have already been dubbed Nitwit of the week.) (Miss Snark faints dead away at such a horrifying revelation)

I present to Killer Yapp, Chaser of Cats, Wearer of the Pink Tam, Answerer of the Slushpile, and The Snark's Personal Companion a doggy biscut that has aged nicely for three days under the couch, and annoint Him with water from the Holy Toilet Bowl.
(Miss Snark is starting to think that a loan request is in the offing)

I have googled for a long time to find this website, looking for someone who will give solid advice to a writer who is starting to cast about for recognition for her humble works. I have recently completed a couple short stories, and am cracking my knuckles in preparation of writing cover letters. However, I have a couple of questions about listing a few credentials which I can foresee as either being semi-impressive or hilarious from an editor or agents standpoint.

I have recently graduated from college, and have previously not been recognized for my writing abilities anywhere outside of the Happy Land of Students, where everyone absolutely knows they are Among the Best at Everything. Knowing that in advance, so you can place your beverage down carefully, here are my questions:

1) Is publication in a small circulation Literary Magazine (very small, as in a few hundred circulation, distributed only on campus, completely non-profit) something to put in a cover letter? My Dad *COUGH* said it is, but after reading your blog I'm starting to have serious doubts. (Your father's judgment in this case is clouded by his love for you--not altogether a bad thing)

2) How about *COUGH COUGH* High School awards? To be specific, I won a scholastic gold key, and was a runner up for the govener's school of writing in PA. *Cringes in anticipation to answer for this one*. (cringe is right, this one is for Mom only)

3) And (possibly the clincher to the first question) is it okay to put down in a cover letter that you were published for said literary magazine if you were one of the editors on the staff? I was not the only person on the editing staff, and I never pushed my work to go in over others. But, some editors undeniably knew me. Maybe some other professional people who read your blog have a similar question? (yes, no)

(I apologize for the coughing, I only do it when I know I'm saying something that may be considered nitwittery)
(so far, so good, here have a Fishermans Friend)

I suppose these kinds of recognition do fall under "It's better than your mom saying it's good" but do they still have weight in the Real World? This might be the point where the cute, naive college student prances out of graduation and gets hit hard with a reality stick in the form of one of Miss Snark's red stillettos. I probably need it though, so thank you beforehand.

Distilling this down to the basics what you're asking is "are college publications real credits" and the answer is maybe.

Here's how you can figure out if your college/small pub credit is something to mention. Google it. Google it exactly as you write it in your cover letter. If nothing comes up, don't include it. If the quality of what comes up is marginal, don't include it.

Putting your best foot forward sometimes means you don't tell anyone you used to wear (shudder) Birkenstocks.


tlc said...

Putting your best foot forward sometimes means you don't tell anyone you used to wear (shudder) Birkenstocks.

Oh, dog, no wonder I can't get an agent. I still do. Own 3 pair. Bought 'em in Germany at a fraction of the US cost.

Perhaps if her Snarkness can point me to a place selling appropriate footware in a size 6 wide, I might retire said Birks.

Of course, I live in the 407 and wear shoes at all only as a last resort.

Anonymous said...

I used to wear Doc Martens. Still do. Is that OK?

Anonymous said...

What about if you were a newspaper reporter for years before stopping out and becoming an organic farmer? (For that, no Birks. Usually steel-toed work boots) Do you just state that you used to be a reporter? Play up that award from the soil conservation service on the merits of water and sediment control basins?

I wonder if Buibkmrs will be the next shoe fad.

Anonymous said...

How do you feel about . . .



Cara said...

Having once worked (write/sell ads) for a college newspaper in exchange for tuition, I tried googling the paper. HA! Found it! I have tear sheets for some reason, but I would have to think long and hard before mentioning this to an agent.

The big scoop....why the school spent so much money on titanium bats for a losing team!
What a horrid memory first thing in the morning!

Sorry, I'm with Ms, crippled feet before ugly shoes.....(in public)

Bethany said...

Birkenstocks are formal wear 'round here. This could explain why there are so many novelists in my town, but so few NYT bestsellers.

I'm grateful for this post... I've always wondered whether several (well, all) of my publication and award credits were worth mentioning. Off to Google.

Simon Haynes said...

I wear socks most of the time, but I can count to 20 pretty quick.

Fish Monkey said...

If one is going to submit individual short stories, I don't think an agent is necessary.

SPOGG said...

The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar believes this writer needs to brush up on her spelling and hyphenation. It can't hurt her cause, and might help it.

Anonymous said...

I'm an old man, long out of college, and I had the same question. I wondered if I was suppose to include dusty college lit mag credits with bio requests.

Of course, I only wondered because I have no other creds, Wannabee that I am.

Thank you, Ms. Snark et al.

Corn Dog said...

And I used to be a writer for a funeral services' newsletter. Yeah, that's right. Burial. As in dead. And in college I was in Who's Who for something or rather but it was so long ago I only vaguely remember the award ceremony. Do I ever mention these things to anyone I deem might publish something of mine? Not unless I want them to spew coffee through their nose.

As for shoes, I buy my summer wear at Longs Drugstores, like everyone else in my neighborhood. You'd be surprised how long rubber will last.

jeanne edna thelwell said...

Ummm . . . Earth shoes?

security word is "pewca". Maybe that's the answer to my question. :)

Mark said...

Well, in journalism college articles count as a credit; a clip. A reporter can accumulate 25 or more of these in one semester. I did, and these are what editors look at.

For nonfiction books, these are credits that demonstrate writing ability in subjects one isn't an expert in; and some that are depending on the background of the reporter.