June 6th, 2011 / 9:02 pm

Would you like to publish your best work online or in print or you just don’t give a fuck? Pros/Cons of whatever your answer?


  1. Darby Larson

      i want to publish my best work in the medium of sean lovelace asscheek tattoo + xeroxed sean lovelace ass print copies to give to the homeless + jpgs of print copies to give to the digital homeless

  2. M. Kitchell

      i want to publish my best work created specifically for the medium of the internet on the internet and my best work created specifically to fit within the medium of the book in print

  3. Mike Meginnis

      Yeah, pretty much.

  4. Frank Tas, the Raptor

      Print. And if in print, I’m not all too keen on having it published in a journal that none of my friends read. Because, incredibly, despite not being blessed with the unfathomable gift of Being a Writer, they have great tastes and great senses of humor.

  5. Andrew


      print……..write in the margins….more canonically accessible

      online…..cheaper……more hypertextually accessible….maybe

      all seem very pro

  6. Frank Tas, the Raptor

      Oh, I forgot pros and cons: I’ve read maybe two short stories online, and I read through them the same way I read through a cnn.com article: fucking carelessly.

  7. karl taro

       I will make this observation: the good print publications are paying more than the good online, it seems to me. so, score that one for print.

  8. MFBomb

      Depends on the online journal’s quality and the type of story.  For instance, Smokelong is as good as it gets for flash/micro anywhere, even though some of their selections annoy me and are of the navel-gazing-word-candy-variety.  I’d rather have flash or micro there than in most print journals.

  9. Lincoln Michel

      I think this thread has been made on here many times. I care much more about the magazine and the other work they do that I would want to be alongside of than print vs. online. 

      It is probably ideal to continually publish in both, for various reasons. 

  10. Lincoln Michel

      The typical argument on here, that online is a million times better (because it stays forever, more people read it, etc.) I think is pretty faulty because if you publish in print you can easily choose to republic a piece online if you want it to be there. 

  11. M. Kitchell

      seems like it more and more works the other way too, you can publish online and “easily” republish in print if need be

  12. deadgod

      I’d like to publish something of which “best work” wouldn’t be, even to the unkind, ridiculous, regardless of medium.

      pro – I deserve to justify my delusions.

      contra – Were “best work” not to out me from closet exhibitionism:  none.

  13. Brendan

      Why would anyone want to publish their best work on the internet? …Am I missing something.

  14. MFBomb

      Actually, why would anyone want to publish anything anywhere that they didn’t consider their “best work”?

  15. Brendan

      Well, I’ve written and published a lot of things, but they all aren’t my best….And I certainly never looked to the internet as my first choice. My “best” work I usually try to get some grain for and put where someone might be able to read it sometime when all this shit falls apart. 

  16. Roxane

      I don’t make a distinction. I generally believe in anything I submit and would never willfully submit something to any magazine that I didn’t think was good. I am increasingly less invested in the print/online distinction but print magazines also pay and money is great. I would find it strange that someone would deliberately send subpar work to any magazine.

  17. Tim

      Michel makes a good point above re: considering the magazine over the medium. But if I had to consider only the medium, I would select online, as long as we’re talking short work. I’ve landed things in print and online and the things in print may as well have been written on a Lite Brite and then tossed into a lake. Granted, it’s because these things were in very small print journals, but at least the comprable pieces in very small online journals are still online, and still pull people to my blog, or to my email. People can still find them, I mean, without a time machine or a squad of librarians/bookstore clerks.

  18. Lincoln Michel

      Not sure what you are referring to, but I’m talking about republishing a piece on one’s own website (or perhaps a place like fictionaut) 

  19. Lincoln Michel

      If you go too far in that direction you risk having all your worst work online where perhaps most people will read it, or at least new people you meet will read it first. 

  20. Trey

      “may as well have been written on a Lite Brite and then tossed into a lake”


  21. postitbreakup

      I agree with the several people who said you should never publish less than your best anywhere.

      I see advantages to both mediums–print offers more payment and also the quality of being on paper, for all the reasons that people prefer printed books to ebooks; online writing can’t “go out of print” though and can reach a wider audience/be linked to more easily than having someone order a certain issue of a magazine.

      Right now, I feel like print still gets more respect from more “traditional” readers and from non-readers, who have an old-fashioned idea of a publishing hierarchy where it’s like “Oh you got a story published, congratulations!” “It’s online only” “oh…. um… hm…” but I think that will fade.  I think the new test of legitimacy, especially with iPads/Kindles/etc, will not be print/digital but “Did you get paid?”

  22. Brooklyn Copeland

      I like publishing online. The drawbacks are that you sometimes have to search hi and lo to find an editor who doesn’t just slapdash everything together in an online journal just because they can. I wait to see who else the online journal publishes and how much attention to form the editor gives. Nothing bugs me more than an online editor saying, “Your line won’t fit so and I can’t figure out how to make it.” Can you, like, Google the coding or something? To make my line fit? I expect someone who runs an online journal to be computer savvy. If the journal doesn’t even publish anything like what I write, I’ll read it with interest, but I won’t submit anything to it. Publishing online’s great, though. I’ve had the most response from strangers about my work from stuff they’ve been able to see online. It’s gotten me some pretty cool solicitations. Can’t argue with that.

      I’m a paper-book girl, though, ultimately. Give me literature I can hold in my hands and smell.

  23. Brooklyn Copeland

      “I would find it strange that someone would deliberately send subpar work to any magazine.”

      -You’d be surprised. (Actually, Roxane, you probably wouldn’t be.) I edit the absolute smallest, rarestly-appearing print journal (taigajournal.com) and at least twice/week I get (completely unsolicited) submissions from (usually creepy old, just sayin’) men who either imply or state outright that they are sending me their shit-ass work “to help out my little journal.” And I’m really hoping the work they’re pushing on me is their subpar work. Since unsolicited submissions are only accepted  from people who order a copy of the journal, I don’t feel bad deleting these assholes.

      You should be even more careful sending your work to online journals. It’s around FOREVER. Work you don’t like will still be the work that appears at the top of your Google page when someone searches on your name.

  24. Samuel Sargent

      I want Natalie Portman to memorize my best work and then travel around the world reciting it from memory. Print, in physical and electronic form, is dead.

  25. M. Kitchell

      Ah, well, more what I meant is that in the same way that a lot more web-based journals are open to re-printing stories that have been seen elsewhere, seems like print journals should be/or are becoming closer to a willingness to publish work that has been published online already.

  26. M. Kitchell

      i think you’re missing something

  27. M. Kitchell

      Am I completely out of the loop/do I just completely submit to the wrong print magazines?  I’ve never submitted to a print magazine outside of contests that offer payment at all.  Where are all these magical money opportunities?

  28. M. Kitchell

      language is over, long live the new flesh

  29. M. Kitchell

      i mean:


  30. Lincoln Michel

      That seems to make less sense to me. A web journal can reprint a print publication because (unless we are talking about a big place like McSweeney’s or the NYer) not that many people will have read the issue and few people will be seeking out the issue once a new one comes out or the old one sells out. 

      So a web republication serves a purpose there. It keeps a piece “in print” forever and, since it is free and accessible to all, can get the piece a wider readership. 

      On the flip side, why would a print journal want to republish something that is already permanently “in print” online and accessible to everyone?

  31. M. Kitchell

      The idea of curation I guess?  I don’t know, I’m of the belief that a print journal can function as much as a thematic anthology as it can function as place for authors to be published.  

  32. MFBomb

      “Best” is obviously subjective and fluid.  I’ve published things that I
      considered my “best” at the time that, a few years later–as of today–I no longer really like but
      are still okay/not horrible/competent/etc. This is esp. true for younger writers
      who are still improving.

      My point was that, at the time of submission, you should never sit around and
      find ways to send out marginal work just to be published.

      And, also, it is true that online publication is often better promoted than print publication.  For instance, if you write flash and get selected for one of those Smokelong Weeklies, your work is showcased by Smokelong for a week, a journal with a good reputation and a huge following.

      There are too many online publications for them to all fall under the same umbrella; it’s true that there are many online journals that are hot garbage, but they just replaced all of the crappy print journals started by half-serious people in their basements before the Internet.

      The best approach, I think, is to have a combination of the two; for instance, if you publish a story in PANK, in addition to having your work promoted directly to thousands of people, you can promote your print publications in the bio line–publications that aren’t always as accessible. 

  33. MFBomb

      But full disclosure: I mostly have print pubs.  I can crack good national print magazines, but for whatever reason, no decent online journals want my work.  I’ve only published one thing online and it was awful and I wish I could erase it from teh Internets forever.

  34. Richard_mocarski

      Any of the Old Guard type places pay (aside from the glossies, the places like Agni, Ploughshares, and the Southern Review) plus some of the newer places that have been making splashes (Cincinnati, the journal, ecotone).

  35. Roxane

      Yeah, I’ve definitely seen those subpar submissions. I’ve mostly gotten to a place of zen about submissions.  It doesn’t take long to spot nonsense. I do get frustrated though when a writer says, in their cover letter, something like, “I know this isn’t any good,” or something equally self-deprecating. Either they think it really is bad and are still wasting my time OR they are being aw shucks, falsely modest. Both alternatives grate.

  36. Daniel Bailey

      just don’t give a fuck. online maybe seems a little better since more people can read it. print is cool mostly because you get a free copy of it and your dog can fall asleep on it if you have a dog. 

      maybe a full length book is the best option. gotta take it to the next level.

      although, the ultimate would be an episode of mad men where don draper goes into the future and finds one of my poems on the inside of a cigarette box and he reads it aloud and reading the poem aloud opens a door to another world in another tv show called totally chill men.



  38. M. Kitchell

      the ultimate would be don draper reading my poem and then turning into jon hamm who in turn hunts me down and knocks on my door and then spends the rest of eternity banging the shit out of me

  39. Lincoln Michel

      Lots of print magazines pay. Use duotrope. 

  40. M. Kitchell

      it’s cool, i don’t write to make money, the question was mostly rhetorical. 

  41. Roxane

      Many print mags pay. We’re not talking a livable wage but it’s enough to buy or save toward consumer electronics.

  42. davidpeak

      get in where you fit in

  43. Brooklyn Copeland

      OMG, how obnoxious! We should swap some of our submitters, just for shits n giggles. You can have my dirty old men, and I’ll take some of your ridiculous emo submitters. Ha. :)

  44. MFBomb

      Threepenny Review pays $400/story and turns subs around in a few days.

  45. leapsloth14

      Best is not subjective to the writer of. You know. You might change your idea, but you know, at the time of submission. Cut the bullshit.

  46. Nicholas Liu

      There’s also a gulf between “widely accessible” and “widely accessed”. I suspect that whether an online mag reprints something that first appeared in a print mag, or vice versa, there’ll be just as little overlap in readerships, provided the mag where it first appeared isn’t huge. For that matter, the same applies regardless of medium: print reprinting print and web reprinting web are still overwhelmingly likely to be introducing hitherto unseen work to most of their readers, even when a single piece is reprinted over and over again. Yet there seems something faintly ridiculous about that on the face of it. Not sure what.

      In practice, it probably doesn’t really matter, since it’s the actual practices of magazines that are relevant to the topic (to wit, which medium is more beneficial to a writer). Have you encountered many print mags that will reprint stuff published online? I haven’t. There’s not much incentive for them to do it if they have any degree of prestige, since they’re generally swimming in subs. So print (first) wins on that account.

  47. MFBomb

      Uh, that’s what I said and it is “subjective to the writer” if “best” is subject to change some time after the submission.  Make sure you read comments fully and carefully before responding.

  48. postitbreakup


  49. elizabeth ellen

      i try and publish my work wherever it will be most likely to be read by daniel bailey.

  50. elizabeth ellen

      i try and publish my work wherever it will be most likely to be read by daniel bailey.