poetry, publishing, writers, writing

When should you blacklist a publisher?

magazinesI’m not usually one to post one negative thing after another, but recently, circumstances in my literary life have been causing me to offer a few “no-nos” to the general public. In today’s edition: How to know when you should never submit to a magazine/journal/publisher again.

Without naming names, I’ll tell you that I’ve recently scrawled a list of literary venues that I will never offer my work to again, and posted them to my bulletin board as a reminder. As a younger writer, I did this after a single rejection (or even two or three), which was hot-headed and foolish on my part. However, the places that I’ve listed and “sworn off” recently have committed editorial faux pas that I consider frankly unforgivable in the 21st century. And so, without further adieu (punny, yes?), here’s why I said goodbye and good riddance to a few literary outlets lately:

1. No response unless accepted. One journal is on my list because the editors cling to a policy that states, “We will communicate with you only in case of acceptance.” Hogwash. There is absolutely no reason that a magazine of any size should refuse sending a simple “no” to a waiting and hopeful writer. Their exclusive practice is rude, and rudeness doesn’t fly, even today.

2. Hostile, condescending, or insulting rejections. Another place is on my list because the editor could have sent a simple form rejection letter or a polite “This doesn’t fit our current needs,” but decided instead to engage in blatant snobbery and offer a few ad hominem cutting remarks. Where “no thanks” will suffice, subtle or obvious condescension has no place. Farewell, editorial ugliness. You have no home here.

3. Rampant inefficiency or gross incompetence. My third blacklisted venue accepted my work more than two years ago, and published it about a week ago. No, I haven’t mentioned them by name here or on social media. I thought the place had gone belly-up, honestly, as my attempts at communication were never returned, and I had already submitted the pieces they accepted to other venues. This could have created a major legal snafu, among other issues. Also, my author’s bio was grossly outdated in this publication due to lax oversight and poor management. Never again, (name withheld) Review. Yes, I know publishing is tough and time-consuming, but not to the extent that it should cause literary malpractice.

4. Emotional/personal affairs affecting editorial discernment. The final place to which I will no longer submit is operated by a novice publisher who sees every “no thank you” as a personal attack, or as an affront to the integrity of her/his operation. This same publisher overshares his/her personal problems when deadlines are missed or when quality is questionable. When the boss has problems, everybody has problems, much like the old adage “When momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” I’ll steer clear, thanks.

So there you have them: my reasons for “blacklisting” certain publishers. Some of these may seem hasty or even unfair, but in every case, my personal experience has been such that I felt compelled to write them off. I would be interested to know why you, the reader, have stopped submitting to various places, as well. Feel free to posit your experiences in the comments section (please keep it clean and non-libelous). We’ve all been there. Keep writing!

poetry, Uncategorized

Lawful and Profitable?

thinkingboy_outlineRecently, my mind has been consumed by choices. As many of my readers know, I just had my paperback transformed into a Kindle edition, and I’ve also been interviewing for various higher education positions in my area. In addition, my financial situation has recently encountered some modification as well. In all of these matters, however, some words of advice from the apostle Paul keep popping to mind:

I Corinthians 10:23: “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable.”

In other words, I can do anything, but that doesn’t mean I should do everything. With the pleasure of increased choices comes the burden of amplified responsibility. I can choose to market my Kindle edition through any number of means, but only a few of those are actually going to work. It becomes my job to decipher which methods are not only permissible, but will result in the greatest outcome. Likewise, I can pursue any number of jobs within academia, but only that job that best fits my abilities and life calling should earn the “brass ring” of my acceptance.

Now before my friends judge my limited interpretation of Paul’s words above, allow me to elaborate a bit. In my current workplace, we’ve recently been exploring the notion of “getting to yes.” In a nutshell, that idea states that businesses should inform customers that “we can do anything, but we can’t necessarily do everything.” So when I encountered Paul’s echo of this sentiment (only in a more spiritually minded fashion), the correlation between my “worldly” situation and a more supernatural piece of wisdom organically began to bridge with one another. I’m not advocating a “prosperity gospel;” instead, I’m simply tying two areas of my life together with a common thread of philosophy.

As I’ve gone along life’s path lately, this little scripture has returned again and again, rearing its head everywhere from the boardroom to the dining room table. It has influenced my decisions daily, and caused me to cast new light on old issues. Paul’s test of worthiness causes one to pause and analyze, examining each set of options with a magnifying lens of overall benefit: Which choice is not only going to be allowable, but will also provide the biggest or best return? Please don’t think I see this from a strictly monetary perspective — “returns” come in both intrinsic and extrinsic forms, and research time and again has shown us that the most intrinsic rewards are the best for us as humans.

And certainly, there are other religious tomes out there that equally advocate balanced decision-making. However, for my purposes in my daily life, Paul continues to speak truth into my everyday practices. Something as simple as flipping a light switch can become a moment for reflection, and something as complex as intelligent investing can be critically viewed equally well using this tiny phrase of ancient proverbage. Give it a try yourself — who knows what great decisions wait right around the corner?