February 7th, 2011 / 3:00 pm
Behind the Scenes

A Conversation with Jonathan Starke, Co-Editor, Palooka

I recently had the opportunity to meet Jonathan Starke, who was visiting Eastern Illinois University as a visiting writer and we sat down to talk about the new magazine he’s editing, Palooka.

What is underdog excellence?

It’s the showcase of skills by writers who aren’t quite making it in the top journals. Publishing in the literary world is a hard thing to do, especially if you don’t have a name or connections. But there are so many writers and artists out there who have no MFA, no name, no connection, or only choose to publish in smaller journals, and these are the kinds of people we consider underdogs. They might be on the cusp of breaking through or not even close, but what doesn’t change is the fact that these unknowns are creating work that is both hard-hitting and pretty impossible to forget, even days, weeks and months after seeing them for the first time.

What is a Palooka?

Essentially it’s a second-rate boxer. But that’s not how we’ve come to define the word (I’ll explain this later on). I’m a huge fan of boxing and mixed martial arts, and we were struggling to come up with a name. I’ll give you an excerpt from Nick’s Note in our first issue which helps explain our thought process on the name: “. . . every other day we were redefining ourselves. First with our name: ―Maybe Gun Lake Review? Something River? Are there too many literary rivers out there?” One day I was revising one of my own short stories about a boxer and his trainer. It just kind of came to me then. Palooka. And I suggested it to Nick, and he thought it was a pretty cool word, and it was really the first one that hit home. When I explained what its definition was, we just both sort of understood what our modification of the word would be. The original definition doesn’t at all mean that we’re publishing second-rate work. It’s the most moving and engaging work I’ve ever seen in a literary journal. We wanted to give that word our own spin. In our world, Palooka is about the underdog, the dark horse in the literary world. You might not know the writer or artist, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t producing work that will blast your socks off!

There are so many literary magazines out there. Really, so damn many. What compelled you to throw your magazine into the mix?

Again, it’s about giving the underdog a chance. We only made this magazine with writers and artists in mind. No egos went into this at all. It’s not a bit about us. It’s purely about supporting those who aren’t being supported by others. It’s almost impossible to pick up an established literary magazine without seeing at the very least one famous or somewhat famous name in the contents, but it’s usually more like 30% of the book, if not more. On top of this, how many of the lesser known contributors were actually solicited? When it comes down to it, it’s just really hard for unknowns to get out there when this is happening, and it’s the underdogs who need the exposure. We wanted to create a magazine that was purely about the work being produced and not a single bit about who you are. We read blind. We do not solicit work. Ever. This magazine was really founded as a shove back against what’s happening in the literary magazine world. We wanted work that was relevant, that felt like it was breaking new ground. We don’t care about what it should be, because it shouldn’t be anything except what it is. We don’t read with expectation. We wanted to create something that was not only fair to those submitting, but was also clean and new and would bring the delight of reading, something a little surprising back into the literary world.

How do you and your co-editor work together? Who does what and why?

It’s really an incredible partnership. Nicholas Maistros is a fantastic writer, reader, editor and friend. I really feel lucky to have such a person reading work alongside me for this magazine. We both read the submissions. If we like something, we make a note about it and pass it along. Then we sit and talk about the piece, usually for hours. We then decide together whether or not to take each piece. There really is no give and take. If he likes a piece and I don’t, it’s out. We must both agree, and it’s been pretty simple to agree on the work we accept. We click so well that it’s usually a no-brainer when one of us sends the other a piece we want to take. Nick has a really quick mind for the editing, so he does almost all of the copy-editing, and I don’t envy that job at all. I don’t really think in those kinds of ways, so I do the magazine layout and handle the website and Facebook account and funding. Basically the business side.

What is your print schedule going to be?

We are doing two issues every year. That’s for sure. I would really like to do a little supplementary book here and there, but that will have to wait until we’ve been around a few years.

Do you have any plans to include an online component?

We do offer samples from each issue online, some excerpts and some full pieces. We also have an e-version of the book.

What is your ambition for Palooka? What do you think your magazine can become?

It’s always about the people behind the work. This book is truly about the joy of putting a smile on the face of an artist or writer. We just want to make our contributors happy with the final product and proud of the book their work is featured in. Considering we’ve only been around since May, I think we’ve done a pretty good job. We are quite ambitious. We will never make any money. I know this. All we want to do is reach more readers and writers and artists and make a statement about what writing and artwork can do. There is so much new talent out there, and we just want to showcase that. This magazine will be something big in the future. It means everything to us right now. It will mean a lot to the literary world, it will just take time. From the response so far, I think we’re really succeeding with the simple goals we set out with, and those were really just to be fair to submitters and give everyone a true chance and deliver a product that’s outstanding.

How does your personal writing influence or inform your editorial work?

One cool thing is that we actually flat-out tell writers and artists what we’re looking for in our submission guidelines. There are no generic statements about “best literary work.” I mean, what is that? As writers, we don’t cling to the ideas of what literary work is supposed to do or what has traditionally been done. Again, that doesn’t mean we’re seeking extremes or anything, but we’re not interested in the static. Really, it’s about how the work makes us feel. Are we thinking about it days and weeks later? I’m still thinking about Dan Piorkowski’s two-paragraph short story about a kid catching fish with bread crumbs and putting the dead fish in Tupperware containers and floating them down river. I first read that piece in May of 2010, and it was the first piece we ever accepted. I’ve read thousands of pages since then, but that piece is all over my brain.

As editors, we clearly love everything we publish, but just like children, Daddy always has a favorite. What was your favorite piece from the first issue? Why?

“Memories of a Faceless Country” by Natalia Andrievskikh. I remember sitting down to read this essay for the first time and feeling overwhelmed. I thought, wow, what is this woman doing sending us this incredible piece? It deals with the loss of a country and innocence and searching for a connection with her mother and with female characters on television and in books. I feel loss like this all the time. I write about this loneliness and this loss. My essays and fiction almost always center around father-son dynamics or loneliness, so I really personally related to it. I mean, you really can’t go wrong with this piece. Her descriptions are so good that I see color when I think of them, I smell fresh fruit.

Funding a print literary magazine can be a real challenge. You’ve gone the route of charging for most submissions. Did you struggle with that decision? Do you think that’s a realistic way to sustain operating costs? Do you actually make enough from submission fees to fund the magazine?

It was a really hard decision. Very tough. I hate that projects like this have to be about money. We started the magazine with our own money, and we’re both graduate students living paycheck-to-paycheck, largely in debt. The charging for submissions really has helped fund this journal. That, and some generous donations have helped a lot. It really comes down to this—if we don’t charge for submissions there is no magazine. So, what’s worse? Free submissions and no Palooka or charging for submissions so this great and fair opportunity for writers and artists can still exist. It’s funny, sometimes I think people believe we’re charging to be greedy, like we’re making a huge profit and it’s a scam. Every cent goes right into the magazine. We don’t pay ourselves. We will never pay ourselves. I think people find that hard to believe, that we’ve spent hundreds and hundreds of hours working for free. And we’re not doing it for us. We’re doing it for artists and writers, and that’s really just the end of the story. It’s about you.

You’re pretty familiar with a lot of literary magazines. What kinds of trends do you see across magazines? What are literary magazines doing well these days? What could they be doing better?

DOING WELL: I’m seeing a lot of new websites. Tons of them. I’m seeing lots of them turning to online submissions, to offering online content, to having e-journals, to Twitter and Facebook and RSSFeeds and blogs. I think all of this is great. It’s sort of funny and interesting to watch such a traditional and sometimes uptight culture attempt to be hip. I like it. It’s really fun to see. I’m seeing more interesting covers and layouts. They remind me a lot of my father in this way. They’re slow to change, but realize they need to keep up, become a little more progressive in their ways and their thinking, and then one day they’re right there with you and you’re proud of them.

COULD DO BETTER: Fairness. I’m all about fairness. There’s too much soliciting going on, which not only prevents upcoming writers from getting their work out but also limits the content of the journals’ own pages. Politics shouldn’t play such a big role in who is getting published and who isn’t. This isn’t to say that all magazines are like this, that all magazines do this all the time and this makes them evil. It doesn’t. I do understand the reasoning behind these kinds of decisions, but that doesn’t mean it’s always right or fair. Give everyone a real chance. Be more open-minded about the work that comes through the office.

Headless mannequins are awesome. Who took the cover image from the debut issue? Why is this the first cover?

Amy Heiden. She is fantastic. Nick found this photo on Flickr, I believe, and when he showed it to me as a possible first cover, I just knew we had found it. We were both really thrilled. What an amazing shot, and I’ve only heard time and again about how much people love this cover.

You instituted a People’s Choice Award. What’s that about? Why do the people get a choice? What ever happened to benevolent dictatorships?

Oh, Roxy Pants (this is Palooka’s nickname for you now). You are so funny! We decided we were tired of editors and writers making all the decisions for contests. We wanted readers to vote. We wanted to do something very different. I’ve never seen this kind of contest before in a literary magazine. We put up five poems we liked on our website and had people e-mail us a vote. The stipulation with the voting was that each person had to give their reasoning behind why they chose which poem. We tallied up the votes and the winner was published in our first issue, along with a handful of the comments we received about why the piece should win. Deana Dueno won that contest with a beautiful poem about being at the hairdresser…but it’s obviously about more than that. Killer last line, too.

We spend a lot of time, it seems, talking about MFA programs at HTMLGIANT. It’s an interesting thing, people taking and investing the money to get a degree for writing, something, which many people assert cannot be taught. You’re currently in an MFA program. How has that experience been for you? What do you think about the relationship between MFA students and literary magazines based out of MFA programs?

I want to say very little about my MFA experience. The bad has come in heaps, the good in a handful. Nick is part of that handful, and I’m thankful for that. I work as an assistant editor at Colorado Review. As part of my MFA program, I have been allowed to work alongside Stephanie G’Schwind who is the editor of CR. Stephanie is an incredible editor. I have mountains of respect for her. I much admire the editorial skills and knowledge she possesses. I think it’s a beautiful and wonderful thing to have a magazine associated with an MFA program. I’ve worked directly with an editor of one of the most reputable literary magazines in the world for three years now, and without that experience, I never would have understood how to put together and run Palooka. I certainly had desires to have my own magazine for years and years, but this experience helped make it a reality. Also, we have hundreds of literary magazines on the shelves at CR. All kinds. It’s wonderful to see these journals day in and out and be exposed to the possibilities. I do wish MFA programs would teach students more about publishing and offer more classes on literary magazines. They are so important to the career of a young writer, and I always wonder why more time and energy isn’t put into educating students about these. Plug: buy and read literary magazines.


  1. Anthony

      There are writers in Charleston?? Hm. I’m from that sad place.

  2. Nick Mamatas

      *So, what’s worse? Free submissions and no Palooka or charging for submissions so this great and fair opportunity for writers and artists can still exist.*

      Charging for submissions is worse because almost by definition charging for submissions is neither great nor fair.

  3. Nick Mamatas

      *So, what’s worse? Free submissions and no Palooka or charging for submissions so this great and fair opportunity for writers and artists can still exist.*

      Charging for submissions is worse because almost by definition charging for submissions is neither great nor fair.

  4. Roxane

      There are many writers in Charleston. And it is indeed a very sad place.

  5. Roxane

      There are many writers in Charleston. And it is indeed a very sad place.

  6. PCS

      Good interview, good thoughtful answers. As far as any backlash about charging for submission–please, it’s either going to the post office or to a new magazine trying to do cool things.

  7. Corey

      If you intend on sending five submissions out to journals that charge five dollars a piece for submissions, spend that $25 instead producing your own handmade zine, fill it with those great writer friends of yours who never get paid for their submissions anyway, do a limited print run of a hundred, and get your underdog name out there. Wherever out there is. Whatever your name is.

      Being published in this magazine will substantiate your low self-esteem (if that is why you’re submitting here, to improve your otherwise underdoggery) since the embarrassment over your willingness to pay a journal for vainglory will soon enough become clear. If this guy can get a paypal account, a bunch of editors, an interview on HTMLgiant, a cover filched from an unpaid flickr artist, and put a few pennies together for a completely speculative number of readers, then so can you. And you don’t have to pay yourself a fee.

      The notion that this flawless business plan will build enough momentum to fill a gap in the literary journal scene with outstanding, underdog work, is failed by the simple fact that it’s contributors have paid to be included in it. Readers, mostly contributors, will know this. Some might think this model is like shareholders in a company, contributing for the betterment of all. At least they’re given profit reports, and have meetings with their company. No, in this instance, paying you are not even certain of the acceptance of your dollars, and you have no say at all in the running of the company, or any manner in which to retract your contribution if you’re no longer happy with its place within the company.

      Thus, this is the worst possible model for esteeming lesser knwn writers, as well as an unfair business model for journals and their contributors. It puts to one side the notion of literary quality (they can only make this claim as a personal statement, the journal itself cannot present this as a venue, until it exists, which I’ve argued will forever be marred by the reality of its submissions) and values rather a purely economical manner in which to perpetuate a journal. Moreover, this is a model for journals in which it can continue without any interest, readership, momentum, esteem, association, it simply has to attract more submissions. Sure, it’s opposed to literary elitism, but you can be guaranteed that those emerging writers that you love to read will never appear in it, and all have paid to be on display. Appalling.

  8. Roxane

      I don’t see any reference to a flawless business plan. This is one way of going about running a literary magazine. Anytime a magazine looks to submission fees to subsidize operating costs there’s going to be trouble. That does not feel like a sustainable option but I also think you’re extrapolating a lot of slippery slope argumentation here.

  9. Corey

      Perhaps engage the more salient issues, you know, the purpose of being published at all etc, dealt with above.

      Sure, nothing about a flawless business plan. It seems to me that is one of its only merits, its model for self-continuance. Perhaps I was inferring too much with the notion of flawlessness. But Roxane, I’d me much more interested in hearing your vindication of what is otherwise appalling to me.

  10. Roxane

      I don’t think I can vindicate this issue for you as you seem pretty entrenched in your position and I don’t feel like I have to defend another editor’s choices. Those choices are not mine. I also don’t think there is a correlation between self-esteem and paying $3 for a submission. I do understand why you are appalled but I also think you’re approaching the issue with a blunt instrument. Palooka is not the first magazine to charge for submissions nor will it be the last. It’s a writer’s choice as to whether or not they are willing to pay those fees and I don’t think it’s a good idea to imbue that choice with moral significance. The bigger conversation we need to have is about where all this is headed, what it means for writers without the financial means to pay these kinds of fees, etc.

  11. phmadore

      Name seven.

  12. Corey

      The significant question that all writers must ask themselves is why publish. There are so many small, minor, underdog-supporting journals around that are a way to be visible as a writer. I think visibility is the main reason I publish, the possibility of being read by more than one person. These journals are not marred by the vanity implicit in a journal where you must pay a fee to be included. Denied from this model are accidental finds, where an editor discovers someone and then solicits work from them, or the desultory submitter, whose work is great but doesn’t know it and takes a punt with a journal, a punt they wouldn’t have taken if they had to pay for it. I know from your editorial perspective fee-paying cuts down the indiscriminate submitter, and the great body of slush around because of it. I see fee-paying exascerbating the desire for vainglory in publishing, everything that is wrong in publishing. Journals need to be ethical guides for promoting association, contagion, and proliferation.

      Where would fee-payingg journals head? Well you hinted at it, no money, first of all. I see it as a model for bare sufficiency, perhaps a way to get a journal off the ground, but not at all a model for creating a good journal, a democratic journal, or a journal that provides a venue to new, unknown work and voices. If you believe in the prevaricatory statement made by the editor of Palooka, to give access to the underdog writer, then fee-paying is the death of it. Where no writer would call themselves an underdog (unless absolutely deluded) this journal names you as such, and being published in such a journal renders you in its image.

      We have more methods for self-publishing than ever. There is no need to pay money, except as your own curator, to get your work read. To be honest, you don’t need to defend another editor’s choices but it would be in your interests to defend why at all you interviewed this person and thought it worth publishing. It’s not that I see that you’re promoting it explicitly, but you went to the effort to make it visible. Surely you see the correlation between self-esteem and paying for publication. If one simply wanted to be published somewhere, wouldn’t they want to be published in one of the vast majority of journals that don’t charge for submissions? Where the heterogeneity of solicited and unsolicited work appears? Where the editor will read you out of interest, not for a buck?

      Palooka is not at all the first journal with a fee-paying policy for submissions. But, as a journal that purports to help the underdog, to promote quality work, then their policy is anathema to this pursuit, and the first in my experience to not make the sensible excuse, that we charge for reading because reading takes time and resources, but some false notion that the reading fee gives them more of an opportunity to be open-minded, to set up a journal based on unknown voices.

  13. Anthony

      What do y’all do there? Besides eat at McHughes.

  14. Chloe

      It’s clear to me that this journal is using this method to get off the ground. They just printed their first issue. In time, I would suspect they will be applying for grants or looking for donors. Would you prefer a world where the only journals alive are ones backed by the interests of a university? Most literary magazines that thrive have this kind of backing, and with that comes politics and the not certain, but almost certain exclusion of fair chance for unknowns. Charging for submissions has nothing to do with vanity. If this is the case then you’re arguing that Brevity or Plougshares or New England Review or Massachusetts Review or The Missouri Review or any well-established literary journal that charges is just a vanity magazine because they carry a submission fee. According to you it seems that any magazine that charges potential contributors a submission fee is a vanity publication. Does almost every single journal charge for contests as well? Yes. That would mean not a single literary magazine is not a vanity press based on your argument, therefore they can’t be legitimate either, and not to mention that the majority of these are well-funded by universities and private donors, and they don’t need the submission fee money where it’s clear this magazine does for now. It’s also interesting and backward that you confuse charging for submissions with their underdog statement. It’s clear to me that their underdog status has nothing to do with charging and everything to do with giving submitters a fair shake. And according to your argument, if you pay to submit then you’re paying to be published, but how is this the case when everyone who pays is NOT being accepted for publication? You pay to be read, you don’t pay to be published. That’s how self-publishing works, and this is clearly not self-publishing or vanity publishing. Again, using your argument, anyone who pays to submit electronically to Missouri Review (who is so wealthy that they can pay $15,000 in annual prize money) is actually paying to be published, and paying to be published in a vanity magazine, according to your argument. Wait, but don’t we respect Missouri Review? This is strange. Yet, they charge for submissions, along with dozens of other well-funded magazines. Some of them only allowing online submissions where a fee is charged. And in this case with Palooka, charging is in no way associated with their idea of the underdog, yet you somehow manage to slip this low-blow in as a way to sway readers of your post with a fictional and blurry argument of two things that are not at all related. As is this statement you make, that they charge out of “…some false notion that the reading fee gives them more of an opportunity to be open-minded.” Can you please show me where it says that? Where those two things are actually together in the way you’re stating them? That one comes from the other and vice-versa? Nope. Because what they ACTUALLY say is that the reading fee enables them to run their magazine, not that it allows them to be open-minded. Their willingness to read blind, to not solicit, those are the things they point out that show they’re open-minded, not a reading fee. Your fictional facts are crossed. What you’re doing here is taking items from different segments of the interview that actually do not go together and throwing them together in an assertion that is incredibly and obviously false. It seems to me this journal is doing the best it can with what little they seem to have. You act as if it’s a crime for these guys to put together a magazine out of passion and love for writers and artists, when they’re clearly making no money and working long hours. Man, what an awful world we must live in where people are trying to support one another and give opportunity to those who need it. Your post is self-righteous and shameful.

  15. Roxane

      I’ve never been to McHughs. There’s not much to do here. I travel a lot. But there are lots of writers here, a literary magazine that has been publishing for 45 years, several writing groups, etc. We’re about to start a local reading series. And so it goes.

  16. Roxane

      I respect your point of view but largely disagree with some of the assertions you are making about vanity and such.

  17. Corey

      First of all, of course I don’t disagree with a fund raising effort to get a journal off the ground. That shouldn’t be in doubt. Perhaps a concerted fund raising effort is worth employing, or like I said, a policy that (perhaps) involves a reading fee but allows the writer some shareholder-like agency in the production of the journal, like a guarantee that it has distribution, that it is somewhere where one is amongst peers, etc. The contest involving a reader’s vote is a nice idea.

      A contest is different, I think. It offers a prize. If a reading fee simply avails one a publication, not with the corollary of a prize, then it is a submission fee in sheep’s clothing.

      With my reservations towards the idea of an underdog’s publication, you mustn’t confuse a simple point that comes from the editor, not myself. As an editorial, this journal says it will look after the unknown writer, for a fee. The unsolicited writer who sometimes gets paid by a journal, or by an anthology, or mostly doesn’t have to pay, will be put off by this journal, since they must pay money to be read. We have a hard enough time getting writers to purchase the journal for relatives or promoting it to their friends. You don’t see this as worsening this trend? That said writer, if they paid for submission, will feel even less inclined to purchase a copy. I think perhaps the model where you’re not paid for submission but receive a couple copies is a very sound model.

      I suppose it burns down to the perceived difference between a paying and non-paying submissions policy. It would be entirely different if all journals asked a reading fee (and you must keep contests and submissions distinct). Even if Palooka lives entirely lives up to its philosophies, its writers are marked by their paying to be in the journal. Why are they paying? As the editor says, to allow the journal resources to publish the journal. Paying the journal to be able to publish those who pay for consideration. There’s no reason why this journal can’t be as good or better than any other journal. The problem is simply this model emphasises responsibility to a paying group of writers who must be under the assumption that the journal, combined with its philosophy of helping the unknown writer, offers them a far better chance than the major journals. My argument has been simply that even if this journal has no money-making interests the perception that the writers are largely publishing for vanity’s sake is irreversible. Surely, Roxane and Chloe, you can’t deny that. I say it’s the wrong way to go about attracting great work, if that’s the intention. Most writers believe their work is worth reading either for free or for a highly nominal sum (even paid writers are working for measly sums). To promote this trend is to ask writers to pay the journal.

      Let’s not beat around the bush: the journal does not guarantee your being published, but it has done everything it could above to advertise a service to writers who otherwise find it difficult to be published, provided they pay a fee. “And in this case with Palooka, charging is in no way associated with their idea of the underdog…” They are built on this notion, and go to lengths to advertise this fact, surely you are not that naive.

      Chloe, to respond to the open-minded question, previously the editor remarked the fee allowed them the resources to be what they are, a new journal that considers unknown writers. How is it they are completely unrelated? The journal is based on this notion of helping the underdog, one assumes one of the resources money allows is time to “give everyone a real chance” as he says in question “You’re familiar with a lot of literary magazines…” This is not false extrapolation, it’s right there!

      So to conclude, fee-paying journals don’t have to be anything but whatever they design to be, but it should be entirely clear how such an approach undermines the very philosophies Palooka is built on. Giving a fair go, well that would be a free one, in my mind. If you esteem quality work, you will read it for free, because by the sounds of things the editor thinks about single submissions for months. The exposure given a writer who paid to be considered emphasises the vainglorious face of the desire to be published, even if this isn’t the case with your submitters or the complex reason why people publish. Compared to contests, there is the gamble of winning a prize. For good reason to the vast majority of small presses that offer contests largely just to fund a new collection still offer a small money prize. And ultimately, I was making a very small point, that we should be getting together and spending this money on what we believe literature should be, not passing our energy and cash on to others whose mission statement, in my mind, reeks of the highly opportunistic.

      Chloe, I do not at all believe it is a crime to want to make a journal for all the reasons Palooka allege to. I never once expressed that, and wouldn’t. These are my beliefs, there is much I believe could be done to allow better access to the unknown writer, much to be done improving the sensibilities of literary readers to look for that which surprises and transforms the way they read. I wish many journals would remove this concept of having to know what kind of work they like from their previous publications from their submissions guidelines, as the editor of Palooka does. Why are my reservations shameful? I’ve only expressed what seems to me a counter-intuitive model for a journal whose values, bar toward fee-paying, I respect. I had hoped my thoughts might sway such a journal into considering how their values are better pursued by doing what editors have done for centuries, esteemed writing enough to read it without a transaction taking place. It has only become an issue in the last few decades, beginning with agent’s reading fees, and now this awful trend. Chloe, if this is an indefinite approach of the journal that will cease once more money comes in, then we can celebrate together! I really hope you’re right. Why not keep fund raising, and begin with a good first impression?

      Palooka’s professed values in publishing and literature are ones I share with them. I wish they could have stuck with their fund-raising and not marred the development of this image by charging for submissions. Thinking again, Roxane, your question about the future of such a trend, the success of this model means fewer people believe writing is of value, under the abstract currency of the dollar, and writers feel undervalued. Thus exascerbating the situation the hypothetical underdog writer finds themself in.

  18. Corey

      “To promote this trend is to ask writers to pay the journal” doesn’t make sense the way I put it, I’m referring to the couple sentences before, to publishing for vanity’s sake, not for proliferation or exposure or a dialogue etc.

  19. Deckfight

      man, i love the diversions of html giant. & when writers talk ‘business plans.’ so fun.

  20. deckfight

      if you’re spending more submitting to than you’re spending on purchasing journals, then there’s a problem.

  21. GeorgiosHair

      It seems crystal clear to me. Lit-mags that ask for a fee (reading fee or contest fees) aren’t trying to hide the fact. You hit “enter” and submit your work, you know you’re paying to have someone read it, to possibly reject it. This isn’t an argument that deserves anymore attention than that. If you the idea of paying to submit your work makes you balk, submit your work somewhere else.

      To suggest that a reading fee equates to “vanity press” and cannot possibly lead to a meaningful dialogue in artful discourse is delusional. As a writer who submits work (and sometimes pays a reading fee), I can tell you without a doubt that the $2-$3 I shell out doesn’t, in any way, degrade my work or the potential it has to create a thoughtful narrative between myself and the reader. The very idea is insulting.

      Personally, I’m smart enough to read the guidelines. Yes, I’ll pay the $2 to submit. No, I will not. That’s a choice. Take it or leave it. Vomiting up a bunch of dimestore rhetoric is by no means going to alter my personal decision to pay a reading fee or not.

  22. “A shove back.” | greg walklin

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