Jimmy Donnellan's picture
Jimmy Donnellan December 4, 2013 - 6:22am


Nathan Scalia's picture
Nathan Scalia from Kansas is reading so many things December 4, 2013 - 5:45pm

Hi Jimmy,

I'm definitely not the expert on writing as a career, but if the goal is to give writers a way to pad their resume, perhaps you might make it a little less obvious. If I was an employer checking on the writing credentials of a prospective employee, and saw that the website essentially publishes everything that gets submitted, that really doesn't make it any different than a blog hosting site. There's just a middle-man involved here.

I might be missing something, but if the work doesn't have to meet any criteria to be published and doesn't have to pass some set standard in quality, how is it different than posting a blog on Tumblr? I think any employer to whom writing credentials would actually matter might see through something like that.

If you just want to host a blogging service, that's fine. I'm just not sure it'll help anyone's resume.

I'm not trying to be overly critical; maybe I'm just not getting something here.

Jimmy Donnellan's picture
Jimmy Donnellan December 5, 2013 - 1:00pm


The over-arching theme of CV is that once it's established it as a site for writers, there will be no need to promote it as something purely to pad out a C.V - trust me, your notion has occurred to me too.

The comparisons to other sites are unavoidable for the time being as it is not completely developed. The recruitment process for the time being is just as a means to cement a primary team of regular contributors before the whole idea fully clicks into motion.

Cultured Vultures distinguishes itself from a 'blog' in that it is not a blog but a website, filled with current news stories with the impetus on writers to populate the feed.

Also, Tumblr has not been a site for writers for a long time and to compare the two is a slight injustice. Over the course of month of solid activity, Vultures have brought attention to the plight of a coalition for father's rights across America as well as providing the opportunity for an aspiring writer to sequentially publish his novel where otherwise it may land in an editor's junk mail.

Genuinely appreciate the constructive feedback and if you want to correspond further, send me an e-mail.


XyZy's picture
XyZy from New York City is reading Seveneves and Animal Money December 5, 2013 - 2:45pm

The over-arching theme of CV is that once it's established it as a site for writers, there will be no need to promote it as something purely to pad out a C.V - trust me, your notion has occurred to me too.

Well, herein lies the problem. You are establishing this now. You are promoting it this way now. You are shooting your own future legitimacy in the foot by coming to places like this and saying that your site is "a site which dedicates itself to promoting writers' work after they have struggled elsewhere to find publication and to really bulk out their C.V in terms of prior writing experience."

If a writer has struggled to find publication, it is very rarely because they haven't been published elsewhere. It is because their writing is not publishable, either because of actual technical faults or content submitted to innappropriate outlets. The first thing an editor looks at is the work, not the resume.

Although the weak-willed editor may tell a rejected writer that they won't be publishing them because they don't have enough experience, in professional settings this is almost never the case. It's the work that sells itself, not the writer's resume. Every editor dreams of finding the fresh new voice (i.e. without an extensive resume) and bringing them to their readers... exculsivity is the currency of publishing. (Just think of the top selling novels of the past couple years... E.L. James did not have a resume. Suzzane Collins did, but we don't know her for her work before Hunger Games, Harry Potter was the debut novel from a woman living on a government grant because she didn't have a job...)

Now, granted, this is primarily from the perspective of an editor of fiction. And after investigating a bit, it seems your site is primarily focused on news and opinion pieces. But ultimately, the same legitimacy issue is at stake in non-fiction as it is in fiction - bringing good work to your readers, not bringing good resumes to your readers. So when you come here and advertise your site as a method to pad out our writerly resumes, it comes off as crass and cynical. I don't imagine that you don't have an editorial process when selecting which pieces you run on your site, but the subtext of your first post here is, "I'll publish anything..." And that's never a place you want to come from. Especially since I genuinely believe that you are doing it as an opportunity for you to help other writers that could use a break getting into the business.

There's an inherent problem with this reasoning though. If getting a publishing credit is to be a viable measure of comparison to get future work, the answer isn't to give every new writer a "free" publishing credit so they can get started. You are distorting the very currency you are providing... and I think this is the point to which Nathan was commenting on. There are already a lot of venues out there that offer easy publication credits to aspiring writers, and the majority of those are little more than blogs and have no more legitimacy. And because of how you have presented your site, you have lumped yourself into that same group.

If you truly seek to give new writers a good leg up, you need to first establish your publication as a legitmate and professional place that adheres to editorial guidelines that fit in line with the expectations of your readers. And from there, if you want to devote time and attention to new writers (and the best way to do it is to have an open submissions process, with a lot of editorial attention to the work, guiding the new writers along to meet your standards (and the closer your editorial standards are to the general publishing standard (chicago style, or strunk and white... something like that) then the more help you provide them as they then go on to submit work elsewhere)) then you will be able to help them develop their careers.

I admit, this can feel just as catch-22 (another debut novel, though admittedly Heller's first publication credit was The Atlantic and he was an academic) for the editor as for the writer (you need to publish good work to establish legitimacy, you need legitimacy to attract good work...) But fortunately, there's something editors can do to short-cut this process, and that's simply to have a gimmick (writers can do this too, for that matter.) Have something uniquely their own to establish their legitimacy, (if you're the only game in town, then, clearly, you are the ligitimate game in town.) But if your gimmick is, "we'll publish stuff from new, unproven writers..." without establishing any editorial authority over the process, then you aren't doing yourself or those writers you work with any good. And you also aren't the only game in town.

Of course, there's also the Duke Ellington route: "To keep a band together you simply need a gimmick. The gimmick I use is to pay them money." And that more than almost anything will help you establish legitimacy, and attract good work. (It'll attract a lot of crap work as well, but that's part of the gig and why the whole seemingly self-defeating system is here in the first place. But you're an editor... so edit.)

Because ultimately, if you just publish anything that anyone sends you, then you're going to publish a lot a crap. And if you publish a lot of crap, you're not going to have any readers... and etc. I think you understand this. But this is how you are promoting your site now, and I agree with Nathan; the way you are promoting your venture to attract new writers is flawed.

Jimmy Donnellan's picture
Jimmy Donnellan December 5, 2013 - 4:00pm

Hello X

I realise now that I should have been more thorough in my description before starting this thread.

As 'gimmicky' and unsure as Cultured Vultures may appear in terms of its model, I can assure you that I have thought out the present and the future of where I'd like the "brand" to be at. 

Firstly, I'll admit that the site should have less focus on a whole scope of writers(i.e fiction) and concentrate on more concise and consumable articles and submissions for the web.

As for the editing side, I do clean up raw writing but I don't like to give it too much of a polish. Writers (of any experience) traditionally dislike their work being tampered with so if there are jarring errors in submissions, only then do I go in and change things accordingly; similarly so for overly-long submissions which is where fiction falls down across the web. The basis for the site (as I've previously stated) is a forum in which writers can hone their skills and receive feedback and I'd be remit to go in and take apart someone's efforts for the image of such a fledgling site as CV.

The main quota for submissions is palatable works which are based on news and opinions from culture. Hence, the name.Admittedly, it is not ideal for fiction writers but if I were to sum up the ideal contributors, they would be copy writers, social media hawks and the like.

My reply may not be as emboldening as it could or even should be but rather than give away my whole strategy for the present and future of Cultured Vultures, I hope some of your cynicism has been addressed properly.