October 2nd, 2009 / 2:08 pm
Random

We Are All Friends Here

wiring

I’ve been thinking about nepotism and croneyism and friends publishing friends because I often hear people talking, complaining, and bitching about the insular nature of (independent) publishing.

Intrapublishing (new word!) happens but not as much as you’d think. Some magazines are largely vanity presses but most are not.

We all know each other, right? We read each other and we publish each other and support each other and love each other and hate each other. It’s a small small community. The longer you stick around, the more inevitable it becomes that you will encounter people you know and/or like (or dislike as the case may be) in your submission queue. Does that influence editorial decisions? Sometimes. If I know you, for example, and you send me a 7,500 word story I will read it but that isn’t a guarantee of publication. Most editors are great people with integrity who can look beyond friendship and/or mutual respect. I get rejected from acquaintances and friends all the time.

But we don’t know each other. I’m old-fashioned. I still generally believe that my friends are people who have seen me doing something awkward at a bar. So we’re friends, but we’re not friends. I may know who you are and we may exchange e-mails and comments on various blogs but I don’t feel any particular obligation to publish your work when it comes my way unless it is outstanding.

The Internet and the interconnectedness of magazines and blogs and writers and editors implies an intimacy that doesn’t really exist. People often assume croneyism is taking place when in fact, speaking from my own experience both as a writer and editor,  it isn’t.

Beyond that, so what if editors publish their friends. I happen to know some really good writers. Is it really a problem?

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180 Comments

  1. Mather Schneider

      If people stopped publishing themselves and their friends, 90 percent of publishing would dry up…then maybe we could breathe again and the real quality could have a chance to be noticed…of course this will never happen…

      notesofatroll.blogspot.com

  2. Blake Butler

      how do people become friends

  3. Blake Butler

      how do people become friends

  4. Mather Schneider

      People become friends because they are like-minded, and there are too many like-minded people in the world publishing like-minded poetry. Publishing is too easy, and there just isn’t enough good writing to fill up all these zines. So, “editors” fill them with mediocrity. They have to. Then they call the mediocrity great. All the like-minded people agree with that assessment. There are varieties of gray all through this, of course, and exceptions, etc. But, in general everyone sees it happening, this blog is a perfect example. It’s the same thing that is happening everywhere, teamwork over individualism, collegiality over quality. Your staff writers talk about their friends, you see the same names over and over again, some guy’s talking about how great Michael Madsen’s poetry is and how he wants to fuck him. Everyone talking here is simply trying to get “inside”. It’s a good time, it looks like, but quality slips further and further. People like J.A. Tyler become the “gold standard” which is a complete joke. It’s all so dull…

  5. Mather Schneider

      People become friends because they are like-minded, and there are too many like-minded people in the world publishing like-minded poetry. Publishing is too easy, and there just isn’t enough good writing to fill up all these zines. So, “editors” fill them with mediocrity. They have to. Then they call the mediocrity great. All the like-minded people agree with that assessment. There are varieties of gray all through this, of course, and exceptions, etc. But, in general everyone sees it happening, this blog is a perfect example. It’s the same thing that is happening everywhere, teamwork over individualism, collegiality over quality. Your staff writers talk about their friends, you see the same names over and over again, some guy’s talking about how great Michael Madsen’s poetry is and how he wants to fuck him. Everyone talking here is simply trying to get “inside”. It’s a good time, it looks like, but quality slips further and further. People like J.A. Tyler become the “gold standard” which is a complete joke. It’s all so dull…

  6. PHM

      You should pray daily that you can write something with half the gold in Tyler’s writing, shithead.

  7. PHM

      You should pray daily that you can write something with half the gold in Tyler’s writing, shithead.

  8. Mather Schneider

      That’s fool’s gold, Madore. Tyler is pure style, no content. He has a smooth, poetic style, to me it seems like Cormac McCarthy without a story. He just blows and blows, you read it and you don’t laugh, you don’t cry, you don’t get angry…it’s fluff…I could pick out a specific piece and criticize it but I think I’ll save that for my blog…or maybe a column for your wonderful Girls With Insurance…

  9. Mather Schneider

      That’s fool’s gold, Madore. Tyler is pure style, no content. He has a smooth, poetic style, to me it seems like Cormac McCarthy without a story. He just blows and blows, you read it and you don’t laugh, you don’t cry, you don’t get angry…it’s fluff…I could pick out a specific piece and criticize it but I think I’ll save that for my blog…or maybe a column for your wonderful Girls With Insurance…

  10. Blake Butler

      Mather, have you ever edited a magazine or anthology? I’m curious as to your actual functional experience.

  11. Blake Butler

      Mather, have you ever edited a magazine or anthology? I’m curious as to your actual functional experience.

  12. sasha fletcher

      by incessantly emailing someone else until they email back.
      duh.
      also threats.

  13. sasha fletcher

      by incessantly emailing someone else until they email back.
      duh.
      also threats.

  14. sasha fletcher

      i will check back on yr blog. i’m curious about why you feel this way about j.a.

  15. sasha fletcher

      i will check back on yr blog. i’m curious about why you feel this way about j.a.

  16. Ben Brooks

      “no content”. after reading your stuff, seems like you tend to spell things out and if J.A doesnt then hes not worth your time. its pure style if you dont get it.

      also “you dont laugh, you dont cry, you dont get angry”, maybe you dont but i think a lot of people do so its probably best not to impose that on them, they can make up their own minds.

  17. Ben Brooks

      “no content”. after reading your stuff, seems like you tend to spell things out and if J.A doesnt then hes not worth your time. its pure style if you dont get it.

      also “you dont laugh, you dont cry, you dont get angry”, maybe you dont but i think a lot of people do so its probably best not to impose that on them, they can make up their own minds.

  18. Mather Schneider

      No, they can’t make up their own minds. They must listen to me and do everything I say and think exactly as I think.

      I have nothing personal against J.A. Tyler, there are worse writers, but what I really can’t stand is a culture that elevates people to a status they don’t deserve. The fact is he is not as good as his credits seem to indicate, and nowhere near as good as “Gold standard”. Everyone is so desperate for heros…

  19. Mather Schneider

      No, they can’t make up their own minds. They must listen to me and do everything I say and think exactly as I think.

      I have nothing personal against J.A. Tyler, there are worse writers, but what I really can’t stand is a culture that elevates people to a status they don’t deserve. The fact is he is not as good as his credits seem to indicate, and nowhere near as good as “Gold standard”. Everyone is so desperate for heros…

  20. Ben Brooks

      i think the “gold standard” should consist of people who can spell heroes

  21. Ben Brooks

      i think the “gold standard” should consist of people who can spell heroes

  22. Mather Schneider

      excellent point, Ben, excellent point

  23. Mather Schneider

      excellent point, Ben, excellent point

  24. Lincoln

      “Publishing is too easy, and there just isn’t enough good writing to fill up all these zines.”

      You are correct, but so what?

      Dont’ read crappy zines with bad writing. Those zines ultimately don’t mean much in terms of an audience or prestige anyway, so I’m not sure why you think they affect the publishing world that much.

  25. Lincoln

      “Publishing is too easy, and there just isn’t enough good writing to fill up all these zines.”

      You are correct, but so what?

      Dont’ read crappy zines with bad writing. Those zines ultimately don’t mean much in terms of an audience or prestige anyway, so I’m not sure why you think they affect the publishing world that much.

  26. somebody else

      who or what is the gold standard, Mather?

      you’re so harsh to criticize everyone and everything you don’t think is the epitome of soul or whatever weird standard you have. it doesn’t seem like your poetry is very poetic to me. there’s no good or unique imagery. bukowski had that. he had the blunt paragraph like you but then he had some verbal gems to mix it up. your stuff is sort of like a laundry list to me. just because something is a different style than yours doesn’t mean you have to lash out against it so aggressively.

      it’s like what matthew mathers said, “but stan why are you so mad?”

  27. somebody else

      who or what is the gold standard, Mather?

      you’re so harsh to criticize everyone and everything you don’t think is the epitome of soul or whatever weird standard you have. it doesn’t seem like your poetry is very poetic to me. there’s no good or unique imagery. bukowski had that. he had the blunt paragraph like you but then he had some verbal gems to mix it up. your stuff is sort of like a laundry list to me. just because something is a different style than yours doesn’t mean you have to lash out against it so aggressively.

      it’s like what matthew mathers said, “but stan why are you so mad?”

  28. Lincoln

      Wait, I assumed we are talking about literature overall not just poetry. That’s a much different world than fiction I think.

  29. Lincoln

      Wait, I assumed we are talking about literature overall not just poetry. That’s a much different world than fiction I think.

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