The Top Ten Reasons I May Have Rejected Your Short Story

literary-magazineYou’re a good writer. That’s why you submitted your story to a journal with somewhat famous people on the masthead. It’s a good story—great, even—and you’ve worked the hell out of it, so perhaps you imagine these somewhat famous folks will read it, fall ass over kettle, and make you somewhat famous as well.

As much as I hate to burst your bubble, I’m going to burst your bubble. Chances are good—great, even—that no one even somewhat famous will ever see your story. Average acceptance rates for even second- or third-tier literary journals hover between 1 and 2 percent, and for a publication like Glimmer Train—well, let’s just say you have a better shot at getting into Harvard. With numbers like that, those who appear at the top of a journal’s masthead are rarely those who troll the slush.

That kind of work is accomplished by decidedly nonfamous people like me. If we appear in the journal’s credits at all, we’re way down on the bottom. Many of us have MFAs. Many of us are working for free. Many of us, like you, have been submitting to literary journals for years. The vast majority of us only signed on as general readers for that magic moment when we get to say yes. But in reality, we spend 99.9 percent of our time saying no.

Read the rest of the article (the first post of my new column!) over at LitReactor.


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