writing tips

How to Launch A Lit Journal: Step 2


Last month I posted a typically-sage prescription for launching a literary magazine in which I provided a list of “7 Golden Rules” for doing so. Among the tidal wave of responses was one by a little magazine called The New Yorker. In its pages, Stephen Burt argued that a literary journal “…needs a reason to exist…”

I wholeheartedly concur. Which brings me to Step 2 in my ongoing series, How To Launch A Literary Journal.

I don’t believe in giving away trade secrets, but I’ll make an exception in this case. If you, dear reader, are preparing to launch your own journal – the Homo Sapien Review, let’s call it – you would do well to answer Stephen Burt’s important question. Why should your journal exist?

To help your friends get published, of course! Why else?

There’s no better reason to voyage out into the misty waters of the boutique publishing industry in your proverbial dingy than to provide a place for your cronies, your pals, your retinue, and your entourage to publish their own cramped little writings – their “Odes to a Water Lily” and their “Self Portraits as Herman Cain,” etc etc. Because, really, that’s why literary journals exist in the first place, isn’t it? To serve as promotional tools? Naturally that is why. To expand upon my previous analogy, a rising tide lifts all boats… Or, um, there’s always more fish in the ocean… Or, ahem, as Gandhi said, “Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”

And so on. You get the point.

The New Yorker’s Response To My Last Post

reading papers

My last post – “How To Launch A Literary Journal” – highlighted some glaring problems with the current landscape of literary magazines today. Heads turned!

Stephen Burt responded to my allegations in the pages of The New Yorker. In “The Persistence of Litmags,” Burt admits that there is, in fact, a “surprisingly weak correlation between operating a literary magazine and writing clear, cliché-free prose.”

Really? But aren’t they supposed to accept only the best writing? Hm.

He goes on to say: “What a new litmag should not be is simply a farm team: we already have plenty of those.” I believe there he is talking about the Brooklyn Nets. Or perhaps the New York Yankees. He continues: “If you don’t have a particular aesthetic… or a kind of writing you want to promote, you might seek editorial experience…” Haha! “Maybe you just want to boost your friends.”

One of my best friends is Lorin Stein (although he doesn’t know it yet). But I have yet to get published in his little journal – The Paris Review. If only I had not lost his number (AHEM). I would compose a SMS textual message to remind him of how talented I am.

Burt concludes with some poignant advice.

“A new journal needs a reason to exist, a gap that earlier journals failed to fill, a new form of pleasure, a new kind of writing, an alliance with a new or under-chronicled social movement… a program that will actually change some small part of some literary readers’ tastes.”

Change OUR tastes? Aha! Haha! But my taste is impeccable. I read The New Yorker, don’t I? And if any publication has a reason to exist, it is that austere magazine. It obviously exists as a visual signal to indicate who is well-read and who isn’t. That’s why I prefer to read it in public places where humans can see me, such as on subway cars, street corners, cafe lines, and roller coasters.

All in all, an intelligent and thoughtful response to my buzzworthy post on literary journaling. Did The New Yorker get it right? Send me your thoughts at chetsasquatch@humanoid.net


Read This Book Immediately

writers market 2015

You will probably be impressed to learn that I visit the public library at least three times a day. The main reason I do this is because I am at least three times as well-read as your average human being. Another reason derives from an essential tenet of every successful writer’s “platform” – community engagement. By now I am on a first name basis with the reference librarian, Fran, who used to scream and faint when I entered the room. Now she only whimpers softly and begins to sweat. We are friends, Fran and I.

writers market sampleBesides the obvious, there is plenty to do in the library, our most beloved of cultural institutions. I enjoy walking the halls with paws clasped behind my back, staring meaningfully into the eyes of anyone who passes. I also like to harumph and stroke my beard whiskers. But my most cherished activity there is to open new books. So imagine my glee at the discovery of the 2015 edition of the Writer’s Market.

What a useful tome! Within lies a veritable treasure trove of useful data: a list of literary journals and agents, including contact information and submission guidelines; articles by known authorities on a variety of relevant topics; even sample cover letters and manuscript formatting information. By and large a wildly practical book, and one which will surely improve my chances of finding a publisher for my memoir, Beautiful On The Outside.

If you are a literary agent, an editor, or Lorin Stein, and you do not have the fortune of being listed in this year’s Writer’s Market, please contact me directly at chetsasquatch@humanoid.net

5 Ways To Get Your Book Noticed

cat and books

As a soon-to-be-published (?) memoirist and a creature of myriad opinions, I think it’s high time to offer you, cherished reader, some of my patented unsolicited advice. Consider the following if you are having difficulty getting your book noticed:

1. Proclaim the end of “<insert cultural trend here>”

Hipster mustaches. Brushing your teeth. Those fuzzy hats with ears on them. Be incendiary and grandiose as possible in your language.

2. Don’t harass your dream editor. Beckon unto them.

beckon to mconaughey









3. Preserve your dignity.

An illustrative anecdote: Upon arriving in this glittering metropolis, I proceeded forthwith to the offices of The New Yorker. There, I brandished a homemade sign emblazoned with the words “BUY MY MEMOIR PLEASE LORIN STEIN” and began chanting loudly. Strangely enough, passersby scattered. Within moments, I had cleared the sidewalk entirely.

My point is, precious reader, to preserve your dignity. I suggest taking your sign indoors and whispering vehemently. And if that doesn’t work, there’s always Facebook.

4. Guerilla marketing.

Just stuff your book in people’s mailboxes. I actually saw a guerilla do this once. You humans should have a much easier time with your hairless opposable thumbs.

5. Scratch n’ sniff book cover.

I recommend banana or a citrus-based fragrance like lemon. Psychologically, these scream ‘clean writing.’

There you have it. Don’t employ all of this advice at once, or you may develop a writing hernia. Do you have any book publishing tips to contribute? Send them to me at chetsasquatch@humanoid.net