'Cause I am a Lit Mag, and You're Gonna Hear Me Roar!
Lit mags besieged with AI submissions; a look at poetry book contests; alternative paths for writers & poets; lit mags in history; work opportunities; hundreds of markets for your work, and more...
Welcome to the bi-weekly news roundup!
Greetings Lit Magroscopes,
Over the past few weeks, AI writing has been on a lot of people’s minds. A flurry of news coverage dedicated to AI lit mag submissions began with an announcement that Clarkesworld Magazine is closing for submissions. They are not closing the magazine. Their temporary closing of submissions is a response to a deluge of AI-generated work.
Here is a graph that shows how many submitters Clarkesworld has had to ban since 2022 because of “machine-generated submissions.”
Paranormality Magazine reported having a similar experience.
At The Verge, Mia Sato writes,
The issue extends beyond science fiction and fantasy publications. Flash Fiction Online accepts a range of genres, including horror and literary fiction. On February 14th, the outlet appended a notice to its submission form: “We are committed to publishing stories written and edited by humans. We reserve the right to reject any submission that we suspect to be primarily generated or created by language modeling software, ChatGPT, chat bots, or any other AI apps, bots, or software.”
The updated terms were added around the time that FFO received more than 30 submissions from one source within a few days, says Anna Yeatts, publisher and co-editor-in-chief. Each story hit cliches Yeatts had seen in AI-generated work, and each had a unique cover letter, structured and written unlike what the publication normally sees. But Yeatts and colleagues had had suspicions since January that some work they had been sent had been created using AI tools.
On his website, Clarkesworld Editor Neil Clarke says,
I’ve reached out to several editors and the situation I’m experiencing is by no means unique. It does appear to be hitting higher-profile “always open” markets much harder than those with limited submission windows or lower pay rates. This isn’t terribly surprising since the websites and channels that promote “write for money” schemes tend to focus more attention on “always open” markets with higher per-word rates.].”
…It’s clear that business as usual won’t be sustainable and I worry that this path will lead to an increased number of barriers for new and international authors. Short fiction needs these people.
At Salon, Alison Stine writes, “AI-generated stories and pitches are not a fun social experiment. They're malicious spam that wastes time and they couldn't come at a worst time in the currently precarious world of literature and writing.”
In other news, an article from 2008 came across my path today. This one offers an interesting look at poetry book contests. Writes Jill Alexander Essbaum,
Every year, there are thousands upon thousands of poets contributing money into contests.
…In most cases, these poets know nothing about the presses or organizations running the contests. They may have heard of the contest, perhaps know the work of the guest judge, maybe even know the work of the past winners, but they don't know the publishers and editors -- the people responsible for making their book a "reality." They had zero interaction with one another beforehand. They don't know if these editors and publishers are responsible, if the press is stable or about to fall into the abyss. These poets have no idea how much say they're going to have into issues like cover design, layout, editing -- or other important things like how much promotion will the press do, will they send out review copies, if so, how many? Will the press help find readings? Will they arrange any readings? How long will the book stay in the print? Will they do a second run if the first run sells out? What is the distribution? Will the book even have distribution? And about a million other things.
…So what's a poet to do?…
If you used that $250 (which in many cases is a much higher number) towards a creative project, either publishing your own work or another poet you admire, you'd be much much better off. If you spent over $500 on contests, know you could have published your own or someone else's book for that amount -- and that includes distribution and a short run of copies. You could have started your own press. You could have gotten with three other poets and created a publishing collective.
More recently at Lit Reactor, Peter Derk encourages writers to follow a path similar to David Sedaris.
David Sedaris got published by reading out loud at events. He started with small events, was asked to slightly larger events because he killed, and those invites led to more, even larger events, until eventually he read at large enough events that he was discovered…David Sedaris’ publication path matters because the Glimmer Train has derailed. The Believer Stopped Believin’, despite Journey’s impassioned advice. You need a different path.
For those who dig a bit of lit mag history, this profile of seven women by Ed Park offers a rather entertaining glimpse into the work of Hannah Hahn, “a legendary editor” who “founded the literary journal Hot Stanza in 1989 out of her East Village studio.”
[Hot Stanza] ran for just four issues, two-plus years between each. Production values were practically nil. Yet it was precisely this state of near absence that added luster to Hot Stanza’s myth. The submission process was at once straightforward and verging on the mystical. You’d send a 20-page free-form rant to a P.O. box on Canal Street, and a week or a year later Hannah would send you a typewritten postcard, having pruned your meanderings to three enigmatic sentences, one of which you never wrote. She’d also give it a new title, usually a number. Then she would reject it anyway.
For those who appreciate a bit of data and transparency in their lit mags, Seaside Gothic has started a new method of publishing its submission statistics on its site. According to the site, “Seaside Gothic will now be releasing statistics for each submission window. These will be published ahead of the following submission window to offer insight into acceptance rates for fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and visual submissions.”
If you’re looking for a job in the land of lit mags, here is what’s out there:
Halfway Down the Stairs is seeking nonfiction editors.
The Upper New Review seeks reviewers.
Wild Roof Journal is looking for tech and social media support as well as readers. Email them at email@example.com if interested.
Parentheses Journal is looking for volunteer readers and Assistant Poetry Editors. They told me, “Interested people must send a short letter of interest, with a 75-words or less bio, and two sample poems. These can be published or unpublished.” Contact them here.
Identity Theory seeks a Fiction Editor.
SugarSugarSalt Magazine is looking for a Social Media Manager. Applicants can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For all of you in need of homes for your latest & greatest, opportunities abound.
At her site, Angela Carr lists “over 160 poetry competitions, writing submissions and opportunities open or with deadlines in March 2023.”
In her newsletter, Erika Dreifus has curated a whole bunch of fee-free opportunities for the month.
At her site, Erika Verrillo has posted 24 Literary Magazines Open NOW for Poetry, Short Fiction, CNF, Speculative Fiction, Horror, and more; 81 Calls for Submissions in March 2023 - Paying markets; and 88 Writing Contests in March 2023 - No entry fees
Authors Publish has 36 Themed Submission Calls for March 2023 and 5 Paying Literary Magazines to Submit to in March 2023
Meanwhile, if you need a little encouragement to boost your submitting mojo, Chill Subs always has you covered. In this interview with D.T. Robbins, Founder of the journal Rejection Letters, Robbins says,
Look, publishing is FUN. That's it. Just let that be it. Period. Stop fucking worrying about whether or not you're gonna be published in your dream journal or whatever. It doesn't matter. It has no real bearing on whether or not you're a good writer or whether you'll find success or not. Just keep writing. Submit to places that are fun, that publish shit you actually enjoy reading, not the shit everyone tells you that you should read too. Have. Fun. Don't make it more complicated than that.
As for us, in case you missed it, I’ve posted all the upcoming events for this month. I also just updated the time for our Lit Mag Reading Club chat with Lisa Ampleman of Cincinnati Review. So be sure to check it out, register wherever you can, and participate in any and all zoom chats as I always love seeing you there!
Also, if you would like to join the Lit Mag Reading Club this month, it’s not too late. Be sure to order your discounted copy of Cincinnati Review asap!
And that you plane boarders and bag checkers, you train riders and bus gliders, you in the midst of the frenzy of packing, unpacking, repacking and undoing, you in the frenetic throes of ever-organizing and game day strategizing, you on your way to AWP consumed by mountains of merch and book-boxes inside book-boxes, you practicing your panel, you sweating all the little things, you cross-coast travelers and you local day-trip strollers, you gearing up for the week’s big adventure and also you, meanwhile, not going at all, maybe having other sorts of adventures entirely, or perhaps enjoying the lack thereof, you in your calm, you relishing the de-cluttered chill of unfrilly stillness, you blissing out in all the world’s beautiful nowness, you who wander underwater, you who roam around your kitchen in a sleepy daze, you and you, everywhere, full of the uncomplicated and certain knowledge that no matter where you are and when you do or don’t arrive, home is forever and always where your notebook is, is the news in literary magazines.
Have a most magical week, pals.
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Uh, what? 500 writers banned in one month at one little lit mag because of AI-generated submissions? Good Lord. The irony is astounding. If you’re that desperate to get into a mag no one has heard of, I can only imagine how desperate you are to get into The Paris Review. But even if you did, what would be the point? You got a story published that you didn’t write? How is that satisfying?
Yes! Very interested to see this take on poetry book contests. A better world is possible.