My Blog Week: September 19 to September 24
A Word on the Week
The Best You Can Do
I don’t know if anyone has done a study of the odds.
But let’s suppose a writer achieves a touch a fame—for dressing down a raging antivaxxer, say—and the video virality draws attention to her work. Next, a prestigious lit-mag, the New Yorker, or the Paris Review, contacts her and asks to print one of her short stories…
For any writer in a thousand, if she is a stranger to the powers-that-be, getting into a top journal under that scenario, seems likelier than getting in by following the submission process. Slush pile successes, taken not as anecdotes, but as statistics, aren’t much to pin hopes on. The big journals don’t need “discoveries” at all; their circulation won’t suffer for the lack of them, and as they can actually pay writers—both in exposure and cash—it suits them best to woo Names.
In this BookFox article (published pre-pandemic, in 2016) that ranks the top 50 lit-mags by monthly web traffic, the stats drop precipitously from #1, The New Yorker, at close to 27,000,000 views, to #25, the Michigan Quarterly Review, at 18,000, to #50, Post-Road (mere fact, no denigration, but…I hadn’t heard of it) at 3000. Subscriber benefits include web access, so print subscribers are not necessarily an additional source of eyes for your work, if you are accepted by one of these journals. And the publishing industry tends to self-cannibalize, so a strong percentage of visits may be writers learning about submission requirements.
If to encourage sales, the site is passworded so passersby can’t access menued pages, then your mission gets tougher: first, you have to have a top journal accept your story; second, they have to feature an excerpt on their landing page. If they don’t feature excerpts on the landing page, or don’t count yours among that quarter’s top offerings, your few thousand potential views (of one paragraph) become effectively zero.
Print subscribers, in real-world terms, likely put each issue aside, with the usual good intentions to get around to it later. Meanwhile, short-staffed journals can’t offer editing services, so if your story has a flaw unfixable by a comma or corrected spelling, all of its promise won’t bump it ahead of others ready to publish.
These considerations should, rather than discourage, be cheering to bloggers. You would have to be a short-story machine to have more than one or two things published a year. You can measure against your own consumer habits (in reading or anything else), to guess how your product does in the marketplace. If you don’t search daily for short stories to read online, only sometimes learn of a buzzy one from social media, only sometimes check it out…you can assume any life like yours is governed by the same exigencies.
Journals should do a post on a daily rotation, to showcase everything they’re featuring in the current issue. But the people who would get these posts belong to the same pool. Paying for advertising to recruit outside customers would kill any small journal’s budget.
The point being, your blog, if you’re putting out daily or multi-weekly samples of your work, and if you’re getting at least a few thousand visits a year, is already reaching as many eyeballs as a single acceptance in a low-circulation journal.
After a long hiatus, caused by a 20-day internet outage, my weekly summary returns!
I had put some mini-posts out by phone, which is feasible, and educational, but not satisfactory (I doubt you could load artwork to a professional standard without a scanner, but then again I haven’t learned how to do everything). So this week, I reposted the two episodes of The Sword Decides! that I put up over the past couple of weeks. And these passages bring Andreas to the end of his saga, entering a new chapter that I assigned a title to, because I’m taking Bowen’s story in a new direction.
Wednesday, I posted an Eight poem, in the Chess section, “Queen”. Thursday, I reposted the Hammersmith chapter I’d done during the outage. Friday, I began a reclaimed short story that I had sent out to a magazine, and never heard anything. Submittable had it declined (see thoughts above), but I missed the email. But, ✨celebrations, because I like this story quite a bit, and am happy to share it with an audience. Saturday, part four of “The Big Pants”, with Jackie learning everyone in the group is a struggler like herself, no rich or famous people to cultivate at the Messerman compound.
Images on my posts often have a link to related information (click first image), sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical, sometimes in answer to a direct reference. Since people can be leery about links, I include them here: what they are, what sites they point to.
My Blog Week: September 29 to September 24