Dan's picture
Dan from Santa Monica, CA is reading Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk October 26, 2011 - 7:53pm

Hey Reactors,

In your opinion, which is better to be accepted to? An online lit mag or a print lit mag?

Are print mags more difficult to be accepted in? (I would assume)

Do any online mags even come close to paying as much as print mags? (I assume not)

Are print mags going the way of the CD and this conversation will be obsolete in 10 years? (I hope not)

And do any online mags carry as much clout as the printed ones?

And when I say online, I mean "online only" since every mag obviously has a website.

Bob Pastorella's picture
Bob Pastorella from Groves, Texas is reading murder books trying to stay hip, I'm thinking of you, and you're out there so Say your prayers, Say your prayers, Say your prayers October 26, 2011 - 8:09pm

I see online as the way of the future for a lot of reasons, mainly due to low overhead. Print publishing costs money, and writer's are getting paid less and less in the short story arena anyway, yet novellas have taken off online, with several small online presses putting them out regularly now. (Novellas in general have really taken off lately, which many small press houses putting them out in print as well. Still not a money maker, but some of my favorite stories are novellas, so I'm kinda biased to them. Going to work on one next month, my first.) Of course you can always take a chance self-publishing a novella, but face it, you didn't write the damn 30K word story to make a killing anyway, right? 

Are online 'zines as tough a market as print? I can only speak from my own experience. I sold my first story for print, though it was for an anthology. I've had more rejections from online presses, but then that's who I submit to the most. Print is nice, but eventually that back issue is going to become unavailable, so there's that longevity factor. Online is forever, or as long as the link works, which is usually a pretty long time. 

I think the clout thing is becoming more based on not how hard it is to break into the 'zine, but WHO have they published recently. Writing is more social now that ever, and getting into a publication with a "Big Name" writer certainly goes a lot further than breaking into Black Warrior Review, though each white whale carries its own merits. I get more of a kick publishing a short story in the same circles as my writing idols than the little $20.00 check I'll get in the mail and cash to fill up my car. 

 

Bradley Sands's picture
Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs October 26, 2011 - 10:45pm

I don't like to read online lit mags. It hurts my eyes a little, although I guess I don't have any excuse as far as why I can't find particular online journals that I like and print out the stories on my printer.

But overall, online journals publish fiction that is a lot more interesting than most print mags do. I find most of what print mags publish to be incredibly boring. For this reason, I prefer being published in online journals (with the hope that there aren't too many people like me that dislike reading them).

I don't think one format is better to get published in than another format. I definitely think that it's better to get published in certain online journals than certain print journals and vice versa.

I assume it is generally more difficult to get accepted into print journals because they tend to publish less frequently than online journals, so they have less available "slots" (although there are exceptions as far as certain print journals that are not well-known or widely read and get few submissions.

Few online journals pay. Because there's no way to make money through it besides selling advertising or doing something like not being free to read and charging people for subscriptions (although probably only one or two do that). There are also a few that pay that have a place on the site where you can send them a donation, and they pay their contributors out of the donations that they receive. Some online journals definitely pay more than some print journals since not all print journals pay or pay well.

But it's not like many print journals pay either. If you write genre fiction, then nearly every print journal that publishes that stuff pays. But if you write literary fiction, only the really popular ones pay (and they pay well) with the exception of a few that are not so popular that pay a tiny bit out of respect for their contributors. Basically, people submit genre fiction stories to magazines for the money while English or Creative writing professors submit their work to print journals so they can get a credit, which will give them prestige and get them that much closer to getting tenure. This seems to be the reason why the majority of the literary journals that are produced by creative writing departments at colleges exist (and the vast majority of literary fiction journals are being published are of this nature).

As far as an online genre fiction magazine that carries as much clout as print genre fiction magazines, there is Chiaroscuro. As far as online literary fiction journals, I think there are a couple but can't remember them off the top of my head. I had thought Electric Fiction was one of them, but I was wrong (at least sort of). I would have assumed a journal called "Electric Fiction" would be online rather than print. But perhaps the "electric" part of the title is in reference to the e-book editions of their issues that they sell (along with their print issues). As far as an online journal's respectability, I guess it all depends on whether or not they are publishing prestigous authors. And I suppose it's the same thing for print journals.

Bradley Sands's picture
Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs October 26, 2011 - 8:30pm

yet novellas have taken off online, with several small online presses putting them out regularly now. (Novellas in general have really taken off lately, which many small press houses putting them out in print as well. Still not a money maker, but some of my favorite stories are novellas, so I'm kinda biased to them. Going to work on one next month, my first.) Of course you can always take a chance self-publishing a novella, but face it, you didn't write the damn 30K word story to make a killing anyway, right? 

I haven't noticed online novellas becoming popular. As far as books that are published exclusively as e-books rather than print, I don't see a reason to go through a publisher for them.  My publisher allows its authors to retain the electronic rights to our books, so it's up to us if we want to go the e-book route, which I have. So it's pretty much like I'm self-publishing books that have a publisher for the print editions. I'm involved with the bizarro fiction genre and my publisher is Lazy Fascist Press, which is an imprint of Eraserhead Press. And novellas are HUGE in the genre and with Eraserhead. They seem to publish a lot more novellas that books that are two hundred plus pages. And the novella is the perfect length for my stories, so that's what I mostly write these days.

Nathan's picture
Nathan from Louisiana (South of New Orleans) is reading Re-reading The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste, The Bone Weaver's Orchard by Sarah Read October 26, 2011 - 9:39pm

Think about it. Most companies now encourage you to go paperless. Direct debit for paychecks. Email for standard mail notifications. Print in general, and not just bound books, is something being phased out. Once people no longer buy People Magazine from the Wal Mart checkout line because they already have it on their Kindle Fire or whatever the e-reading device will be, then print is closer to extinction. 

Once the older generation of men who like to walk out in their slippers to get a newspaper from their front lawn become the guy who likes to wake up and switch a button on his Kindle-Whatever to read Today's Paper without having to walk outside, much less put his slippers on, then print is that much closer to extinction. 

And why not embrace it if more people read your work becasue of it? 

There was a time, about a year ago, when I would give my mom or dad or any of my friends a printed out word doc of a story I wrote, and it would go unread, sit on their bookshelves and collect dust. I never got feedback -no one cared. I started submitting work online in late November of 2010, and I've only had 5 stories published online since then, but now my entire family and most people I know read whatever I write, and usually right away. People actually give a shit. My brother, who I don't speak to that much, reads my work online. It's a good feeling -to have Readers.

And I know that has more to do with the whole "he's really published now" B.S. -But a lot of it goes back to what Bob said about access -even if I was being printed in stores, no one I know in real life is running off to Barnes & Noble to pick up the latest issue of Glimmer Train. No one gives a shit. The only people who give a shit about that are circle jerks and writers showing off to other writers, or master's programs or high end publishers who might consider your work since you appeared there. When the average readers are in a position where all they have to do is click on a link to read your work, then hey... 

Bradley makes a great point, too, about what's respectable. My mom keeps waiting to see me "in print," meaning a book you can buy at Books-A-Million by her house, because she's old-fashioned that way, but I keep trying to tell her that I would look far more credible being published in PANK, vs. the Speared Up The Ass With The Devil's Pitchfork Anthology by Dickcock Press!

And no, I don't personally have a problem appearing in the Speared Up The Ass With The Devil's Pitchfork Anthology by Dickcock Press -I think it would be fantastic -I'm just speaking to how some online publications are more "respectable" than some print. 

I read here in a lot in different forums from different writers how "exposure for pay" is bullshit and insulting, but damn, online "exposure" has gone a long way for me, and I haven't had that much of it at all. People actually ask me "Do you have any new stories coming out?"

It's the best feeling in the world.

I guess my attitude will change once I get deeper into it and seek to publish novels for a living, but right now I'm digging the fact that I actually have readers, few as they may be, or the fact that other writers have actually heard of me-and it's all because of Online Publishing. Can't speak to if print markets are harder to get accepted to than online, but I do agree about stories online being more interesting -being able to head over to The Red Asylum and read fiction is far better experience for me than ordering praised books from amazon that end up putting me to sleep.

I know in the end it always comes down to money and being able to make a living if you're a serious writer, but call me crazy  because it seems the e-reader/online/digital market holds endless possibilities for a new writer to do just that right now vs. print. 
 

 

 

Bradley Sands's picture
Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs October 26, 2011 - 9:41pm

My mom keeps waiting to see me "in print," meaning a book you can buy at Books-A-Million by her house, because she's old-fashioned that way, but I keep trying to tell her that I would look far more credible being published in PANK, vs. the Speared Up The Ass With The Devil's Pitchfork Anthology by Dickcock Press!

So your mom thinks the Speared Up The Ass With The Devil's Pitchfork Anthology by Dickcock Press is more credible than Pank? Heh. You know, Pank publishes print as well as online issues (I think the two formats have different content).

I read here in a lot in different forums from different writers how "exposure for pay" is bullshit and insulting, but damn, online "exposure" has gone a long way for me, and I haven't had that much of it at all. People actually ask me "Do you have any new stories coming out?"

As I said in another thread, I find the phrase insulting but not the concept (because "pay" should really mean getting actual money for your work rather than getting published on the internet and not getting paid). But exposure can be very helpful, so someone should really come up with a better term for it. "Compensation is exposure" is a little better, but not much.

MattF's picture
MattF from Tokyo is reading Borges' Collected Fictions October 27, 2011 - 3:07am

Ask a dozen writers you'll get a dozen answers.

My goal is to place a collection of short stories with a major publisher.  Role models would be Denis Johnson, Thom Jones or Larry Brown.  Recent successful collections have been written by Wells Tower, Jim Shepherd, Miranda July, Jennifer Egan (nearly every chapter of The Goon Squad was published as a short story--I have a hard time considering it a novel), etc.  Look through the publisher's page on any of their collections and you'll see their stories have appeared in: The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Tin House, Granta, Zoetrope, Harper's etc.  All print, all tough markets, but the path I'm attempting.

If most of your stories appear online, nobody would buy the book, therefore no one would publish it.  If none appear online, no one can sample it.  I read the title story, "Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned" online and immediately bought it (turned out to be the best story in the collection).  This is a more traditional path, but it is still possible.  

If your goal is not a collection, but a platform to launch a genre novel, online is your best bet.  Flood the market, earn a loyal readership, and someone will publish your novel.

If your goal is to earn a living writing short stories, you'll make a better hourly wage in a sweat shop.

 

Bradley Sands's picture
Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs October 27, 2011 - 10:03am

My next book that's coming out next month makes fun of the whole "collection marketed as a novel" thing that is done all the time since collections sell poorly. It's a novella collection, but there's an "a novel" subtitle and an author's note/interludes between novellas, and an epilogue where I'm a character in the book and concern how the book is a novel rather than a collection.

Story collections that sell well are really a rarity. Most of those that do are probably written by authors that have been famous for quite a while. Or for some other reason, like the popularity of the Jesus' Son movie (and think that book is even marketed as a collection even though all the stories to my recollection share the same protagonist). And Miranda July had that great movie and that great website that promoted her book. There's some modern day literary fiction authors who have achieved fame from publishing story collections, but there are so few of them. 

My favorite horror author, Thomas Ligotti, has only written short stories (with the exception of a novella and a non-fiction book, which I haven't read). His writing is a little similar to Lovecraft's, but without the purple prose. And Lovecraft is another author who only wrote stories, although perhaps "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" was novel-length (I remember it occassionally being really annoying while I read it since it was a serial story and each section kept summarizing what had occurred before it). I think Clive Barker also achieved his fame from his short stories (which I love while I dislike his immense dark fantasy novels with the exception of his two young adult books). I think short stories are a lot more prominent in genre fiction. Nearly every genre fiction magazine pays while nearly every literary journals pays little to nothing (except for the top markets).

I've always assumed Palahniuk originally intended for Haunted to be a story collection but his publisher wanted a novel since collections sell poorly, so what would have been a great collection was turned into a shitty novel (I wish I had just skipped the framing device novella that got chopped into small bits by the stories in the book).

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break October 27, 2011 - 10:07am

Haunted was supposed to be two seperate things: the collection of stories and a novel about a writers' retreat gone wrong.  It was the publisher that pressured him to combine the two, hence, the final result.

Bradley Sands's picture
Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs October 27, 2011 - 10:22am

I wonder if he had written the writers' retreat novella previous to the short stories or if he wrote it after (since it wasn't very good). The novel's concept was great though. I probably would have loved the book had the framing device novella been good and various authors had written the stories rather than just Palahniuk considering all the stories were supposed to have been written by a different character, yet they all used the same exact writing style. Such a waste of a good idea. It's the best example of his primary flaw as a writer, although it seems like he's been trying to get away from using the same "voice" for a while now with the exception of Snuff.

When I write a book in first person, I try really hard to make the protagonist sound different from my protagonists in my other first person books (although there haven't been many). I guess that's why I usually write in third person rather than third even though I feel more comfortable writing in first: if I'm writing in third person, I don't have to worry about my writing style being too similar to the style of my earlier books (and that pretty much happens naturally over time). The only thing that I need to focus on is that the characters' dialogue sounds different from each other or characters from earlier books, although writing dialogue is only a small part of writing a book so I don't have to spend too much time worrying about it.

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break October 27, 2011 - 10:33am

Yeah, that was my problem with it. EVERY-SINGLE-GODDAMN-STORY sounded the same, so there seemed to be a huge missed opportunity for Chuck to go fucking crazy with experimentation.  I think part of the reason collections don't sell well is because they tend to be the same voice, format, style throughout the entire thing, so you're getting about ten to thirty different shades of vanilla.  Of course, you want that kind of consistency with a novel, but collections always felt like the best way to highlight all the different things you can do with your writing.

Bradley Sands's picture
Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs October 27, 2011 - 11:06am

Nevertheless, they were damn good stories. I think novels sell much better than collections simply because people prefer novels to stories (rather than the explanation that you're purporting). I'm cool with story collections with stories that are written in the same style if they're in third person, but story collection with stories that are mostly in first person and are all written the same way kind of suck. I've noticed a lot of collections with stories written in the first person in the same style with nameless male protagonists who may or may not be the same character as all all the protagonists throughout the book. Protagonists like that have really weak characterization and it's more about exploring the events that they experience rather than their behavior/personality/inner change experienced throughout the story/whatever. Plot-driven stuff rather than character-driven.

Dan's picture
Dan from Santa Monica, CA is reading Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk October 27, 2011 - 12:25pm

I read in some interview that Chuck wanted to publish Haunted as a short story collection but his editor told him that collections don't sell well and asked him if there was anyway he could "connect them all together."

As far I know, Chuck is the only person to do a collection like this (please correct me if I am wrong), so I feel like he deserves some credit in finding a creative way to get his stories published. If he didn't, all of those short stories would be in the dark.

Knowing that, I doubt he wrote the framing device/novella separate, but I could be wrong. Maybe he had the idea and just applied it.

Most of Chuck's novels always start off as a short story. If the story gains enough attention/praise from his writer's workshop, then he develops it further.

I think Haunted was all the stories that weren't good enough to develop further, so yes, I was a little disappointed in most of them as well. But I'm still glad I got to read them.

Bradley Sands's picture
Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs October 27, 2011 - 12:49pm

Deleted because I posted in the wrong thread for some bizarre reason.

MattF's picture
MattF from Tokyo is reading Borges' Collected Fictions October 28, 2011 - 3:48am

George Saunders, Charles Baxter, Amy Hempel, Ann Beattie, Ron Rash, Joy Williams, Mona Simpson, Ron Hansen, Jim Shepherd, Steven Millhauser are all current names I think of as exclusively or primarily short story writers (could be wrong on some counts).

Absolutely collections are more of a niche market and sales will be small, but people are always claiming it dead or near dead, until another round of new writers comes along and it's born again.  If you do manage to get a respected collection of stories out there, it gives you a pretty good platfom to do what you want.  Junot Diaz and Denis Johnson are good examples of writers establishing their names on the strength of their collections.  I think Wells Tower will go that road too.

And short stories make damned good movie material, so there's always that lottery.

As for Jesus' Son, it is all one narrator (we can presume--I think only two stories actually refer to one another), but it definitely reads as a collection in my opinion.  Each story is wholly contained, and there's no real structure or development carried through from first page to last.  It would be like taping 10 episodes of a tv show back to back and labeling it a movie.  As for Egan's book, yeah it's a bit of a stretch for me.  It's a great book, but the "novel" aspect seems sewn together.  What I'd consider the best chapter/story in it, "Safari," doesn't have the main character (Sasha) in it at all.