litmag blogs


With the proliferation of blogs written by literary magazines, there’s a whole new level of insight into the publishing process and into the personalities who make the decisions on our literary submissions. How are they feeling about the slushpile? What did they do that day (before reading our work–was it a horrible day and how many works did they reject)? What are their opinions on literary matters?

We also get to see the writing of the very editors who look at our own work. Sort of a role reversal.

But with the exception of Howard Junker (whose posts are about his daily walks and travels as much as about the litmag world), most of the blog posts try to stick to the subject at hand: work at the literary journal and issues around the industry. Virginia Quarterly just listed all the reasons for rejecting literary works. It’s a stinging but honest list of reactions that has really opened up the guts of what happens to some of our work when it goes into that slushpile.

Of course, they then made a list of glowing reviews.

And then they apologized.

Oh, and now I’ve just discovered that they deleted the entire list of reasons on the posts. I wish I’d thought to copy and paste them here. The backpedaling surprises me. The deletion of the list of reasons surprises me too. It was an entirely valid list, and encouraged honest communication. Hrm.

Btw, Literary Rejections on Display has a discussion about this very topic…and has apparently entered a dialogue with the VQR.

Other literary magazine blogs (this is just a few):



Filed under Publishing

10 responses to “litmag blogs

  1. anonwupfan

    This is an extremely strange phenomenon in our culture right now. You say something honest (often incredibly valuable and insightful) and then apologize for it. It’s everywhere! I don’t get it.

    I guess I just assume that the slush-pile reviewer level at VQR is staffed by a bunch of snobby trust-fund babies whose main purpose is to scan a writer’s clever, daring months of sweat until they find a dangling participle or other obvious sign of low breeding/public education (think of the worst leg-sweeper in your workshop–yeah, that one-errr!)

    Writing is tough, you get trashed by classmates, teachers, and editors for years, then once you grind out a reputation and publish that novel you’ve been working on Michiko Kakutani performs a 18 column-inch evisceration of it for a circulation of 1 Million+!

    I’ve always found honest criticism (even when it hurts) to be wa-a-a-a-y more useful than the kid gloves. Of course, I didn’t see their list so maybe I’m just missing something.

  2. I can add a few more lit blogs—though not necessarily litmag blogs:

    The Penguin Blog

    Institute for the Future of the Book

    Metaxu Cafe

    California Literary Review

    Litblog Coop

    I posted a supportive comment on the VQR blog. Having been on both sides of fiction submissions, I can tell you it’s really difficult to balance encouraging good writers to submit while somehow discouraging (if not bad writers) those writers who would waste a reader’s time through their own unwillingness to research the right venue for their work or, you know, somehow appreciate whether their writing is any good.

    There was somewhere in the VQR post where Ted or Waldo said they receive 10,000 submissions per cycle: putting that number out there is absolutely necessary for writers to understand what they’re getting into, but actually seeing that number might just scare off a good writer. It makes me wonder if there is/should be a Writer’s-Market-style website for literary magazines, letting each participating magazine post their latest acceptance rates, circulation, etc.

  3. anonwupfan: I’m with you on the honest criticism! It’s a good thing in the end. I would want people to tell me my ass looks fat in a particular pair of pants–it helps me get a better pair of pants.

    Andrew: It’s definitely a delicate balance (and thank you for that list!)–I think there are websites out there that do list all the litmags…for starters, ( Acceptance rates, response time, genre, circulation, etc., are all posted.

  4. anonwupfan

    Andrew: Wowzers, 10K is a lot of frogs to kiss! With those odds, a lame title or dropped digit on your zip code might get you recycled! You’re right, (not that I consider myself to be good–far, far from it) I wouldn’t (and haven’t) bother(ed).

    JP: You mean certain, trusted people right? I can’t help but imagine walking down the street and shouting “Oooooo, it’s time for you to get some bigger pants buddy” to a complete stranger!

    BTW, I really like the new avatars. I feel like a unique patch on the WUP quilt 🙂 Thanks.

  5. anonwupfan: Oh yes, solicited only! Unsolicited advice on the ass SUCKS!

    But for solicited advice/feedback/judgment: I want the honest answer (are you REALLY going to let me walk around in those pants all day?). 🙂 Same with submissions. You’re submitting yourself for critique/feedback/judgment and when you commit that act of braveness, you want it to count for something! I want to get better all the time.

    But then again, there is a saying–that when people ask for advice, 99% of the time they’re really asking for reassurance.

    and I have no idea where the whole quilt pattern came from. It’s kind of neat, but totally sudden and not of my doing!

  6. anonwupfan

    So, perhaps the next time Mrs. AWUPF asks I should try saying: “I assure you, your ass looks big in those pants!” (and I’ll never know a woman’s touch again–LOL!)

  7. I appreciate it when my husband tells me–but I must be that 1% who doesn’t want reassurance (at least on the pants issue). 😛

  8. Pingback: links for 2008-05-08 « Charlottesville Words

  9. h

    i love that photo.

  10. h: thanks! i was in an orange tic tac frenzy that day at work and decided to take a picture of the empty container/cannister/whatever you call the tic tac container. 🙂

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