Paris Review

How To Launch A Literary Journal

literary journal cover

Oh precious, darling reader. You’ve accompanied me through thick and thin. For that I owe you a great debt. But I’m afraid, despite our fraternal union, we are both guilty of a gross oversight. In these annals I have cataloged the erudite and informed publications of our day, the journals that we all depend upon for literary insight and inspiration. The Paris Review and The New Yorker, for example. Or The Bellevue Review, Slice, or Electric Literature. Then again, there’s also The Atlas Review, Tin House, and Conjunctions. Ploughshares, A Public Space, and Gettysburg Review. And McSweeneys. And the Iowa and Missouri Reviews. Not to forget Agni, Boulevard, and New England Review. And a few others. And still others. And, actually, others as well. And… others.

So, as you can see, we are now faced with a scarcity of literary journals in this country. There simply aren’t enough of them. And that is why – my loyal, trustworthy reader – we must join forces to launch a brand new journal to address this pathetic shortfall. We begin immediately.

Before our first strategic planning meeting, it would be meet to agree upon a few golden rules. Without further ado, here are 7 Rules For Launching A Literary Journal:

  1. Your “Mission Statement” should be a terrific hodgepodge of vague declarations and general proclamations about “fostering talent” and “exposing the best literature to the world,” etc etc. The broader the better. We wouldn’t want anyone knowing what the journal’s goals actually are.
  2. Be weird. SNARFLEPLORG!
  3. Don’t pay your staff. Paychecks will only give them hope.
  4. Beg for submissions from anyone who will listen. Have no dignity.
  5. Frantically close submissions when your Submittable is carpet-bombed with 100,000 stories about youthful,  yet precocious protagonists surrounded by idiots.
  6. Quickly plan 3 years worth of special “Themed Issues,” because working writers have nothing better to do than put aside their best material in order to pump out half-baked microfiction about Latvian Eco-Terrorists Named Igor.
  7. Pray.

Excellent. It feels good to take stock. Now then. Onward! Our brand new literary journal is still only a fragile seed, yearning for water and sunlight. Before it will germinate, we must provide it with vital nourishment – an aesthetic, and a title.

Did I forget anything in today’s list? Oh dear. Remind me what I’ve forgotten at



Rejection or Acceptance – Which Is Better?

old white men 1915

From around the global mesh blanket, er rather, the world wide interweb, a couple of notable items:

First, via the tactful and pragmatic editors at The Review Review, an ode to rejection from blogger Nathaniel Tower. Not only is rejection necessary, Tower writes, but it can be – egads! – helpful. He continues: “If the story I’m submitting is terrible, I want the editors to tell me.” Tower offers a helpful translation of some common rejections from literary journals around the country. Apparently, though the wording differs, the meaning of rejections is somewhat singular. A rejection letter means, of all things, the editors don’t like your work. Who would have guessed?

Then, via the handful of insightful editors at The Millions, a small homage to the late great author James Salter, who passed away this week. The 90-year-old writer received The Paris Review‘s Hadada Prize in 2011. The Review’s blog provides a transcript of his acceptance speech that demonstrates Salter’s graciousness and humility.

So, like the right dash of spices in a bubbling pot of jambalaya, a bit of rejection and a sprinkling of acceptance. Which is better? I am partial to both. Email me your choice, dear reader, and I will surely accept your opinion, or reject it, depending on how I feel at the time –