The lesser target (if there really is one)

I had an email correspondence with another writer about submitting work. He said he had found what looked to be an ideal ezine for a story he had written (through Duotrope’s Digest, of course). The submission info page called for the specific take he had made with his story, and he thought he would submit to it.

Before he did so, though, he checked out some of the stuff they had already published in earlier issues. He said he was disappointed with what he found. The writing that they seemed to accept consistently was amateurish. The characters were thinly imagined. The plots were obvious. The writing was workmanlike. But more significant to my friend was that there were blatant errors in the text. The only example he gave me that I can recall is that a writer used the word “gate” when he should have used “gait.” (Describing the way a character was walking.) The mistake slipped past the writer, and it slipped past the editor.

He wondered if he should submit to this ezine given its apparent low standard. Would getting a story accepted there reflect on his reputation? Would it hurt rather than help his credentials?

I didn’t know what to tell him. Given my thus far comparatively sparse fiction publishing record, I couldn’t offer sage advice or experience. I suggested two things. One is that if his work truly is better than what the ezine normally runs, his story might help the publication rise a fraction in the market. Second, his story is quite specialized, and he told me he had not had any luck finding an ezine that was interested in it. Given his lack of success otherwise, I thought that any credential was better than leaving a story to languish. Readers are readers, after all.

What do you think?

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3 Comments on “The lesser target (if there really is one)”

  1. Pete Says:

    If a journal is that sloppy, I wouldn’t submit anything to them. Similarly, every time I come across a new online journal via Duotrope or P&W, before even reading the submission guidelines I look at the site design. If the design is garish, poorly formatted or otherwise ugly I immediately eliminate the journal from consideration, figuring that if they have low standards for visual aesthetics they probably have crappy taste in literature too – in which case I really don’t want to be associated with them.

  2. Brian Keaney Says:

    I don’t think stories really exist until someone reads them.

  3. Eddisbury Says:

    I’d say that being published in such and ezine gives you no credibility at all. Much better to take the long slog so that “listed with Boggins, Funkle etc on such-and such a site/publication” is something to be proud of – not a little bit apologetic about.


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