Monday, June 20, 2016

Three Birthday requests of Submittable (and one from Duotrope)

Dear Submittable, Are You There? It's Me, Zebulon

Submittable is the revolutionary platform that took simple cloud applications and applied them to literary magazines. And I love them for it. They are quite simply put, awesome. Not in the "I'm in awe of your genius" way but more of the "I am super appreciative of the service you provide" sort of way. I love love love submittable and the utility they provide. Have I gushed sufficiently? OK. So like a proper American, I have a couple requests of submittable that I would like now.

1) A Free Birthday submission fee exemption at Submittable. 

If you're spending your birthday taking advantage of a few $3 discounts you're either really dedicated or are a stereotype of one sort or another. Whichever the case, is there really a huge data transfer cost for those individual days? I get it's too late for me. But think of the children (poets). Maybe make an option for journals where if you have linked your facebook to submittable and it's verified that it's your birthday, journals have an option of letting those people submit for free, that one day, if it's within their submission period. My birthday's in the summer so it doesn't affect my all that much, but hey...

Look, I understand this is silly, pathetic, whatever you want to call it. I am trying my damnedest to be serious about my poetry publication. It is tough. I mean, beside the super subjective nature of poetry selection (from a veteran of 3 literary magazines) and the fact that very few journals pay for publication, even some that require $3 submission fees which, on my birthday, I will allow myself to say is fucking ridiculous. I apologize for the curse word, but come on. For those that don't know, charging a $1 submission fee through submittable pays for the service in its entirety, unless you get such a small amount of submissions you should have rethought the platform and stuck with email submissions. Submittable is providing an awesome service and they deserve that dollar. Once you move beyond the dollar you're making profit. You're profiting off of canon fodder like feudal lords because we all know grad students (or more often than you'd think, interested undergrad English majors) often read the slush and 24 year olds might not recognize allusions for anything but a fart in the forest breeze. (Not to denigrate the many qualified, tireless readers, it is just a thankless job that requires often an overload of reading to give proper time and consideration to)

2) A submittable search function.

I would like to be able to search your listings. Even if it's just keywords like "Flash" "poetry" "Hybrid" whatever. You know which journals have no current submission categories available, you know which categories are there. I google that, but it's not super helpful. You can have an internal engine run that. Even if we just get a menu of submission categories to pick from, from current submission calls it would be awesome.

3) Link up with Duotrope

Duotrope has a very developed submission response matrix, if Submittable and Duotrope combined to share journal response time it wouldn't rely on writers to 'report' responses but would have accurate information. I understand that time dilation is tricky when you're waiting for something and responding to that information. You can already link both your Duotrope and your Submittable accounts to your Facebook account. While I'd like to keep Facebook out of the equation, it seems that in order to make their numbers very much more accurate Duotrope and Submittable would both benefit by synching their submission numbers.

and now that we're talking about Duotrope...

Could you guys do me a huge huge favor that should only take a few lines of code? You know how you have the box you can click that indicates that the journal accepts simultaneous submissions? Can we get a subsequent box that says "does not accept simultaneous submissions" or, like you have with lengths genres and all sorts of other nonsense that doesn't really apply to hardly anyone, have a pull-down menu that asks "does accept simultaneous" "does not accept simultaneous" or "either". I mean, I think it is a reasonable request, I would happily give a dozen high-fives to any engineer/programmer/PR-guy-or-gal/whomever can implement this simple request.

And I will even go into slight detail, god, what a nerd I am doing this on my birthday. The reason is this, Madam Duotrope, No Simultaneous Submission journals are a thing still. Not a big thing, but there is still a contingent that adheres to the idea that writers should have zeroed in their market so finitely that they only need submit their piece to a couple journals before they find their home. Or, that the journals have been burned by asshole writers that can't reconnect with journals they've sent poems to once they're accepted elsewhere.

Don't get me wrong, I've had poems accepted via snail mail only days apart. These things happen, but because so many notoriously non-simultaneous submission journals have turned the corner with the advent of Submittable, (Poetry, APR etc) it is worthwhile to note those that still require exclusive rights to submissions. The only problem is those journals tend to be the older, more respected journals, because new ones look at the idea and think it's a thing for pricks—and, I don't know if I agree with that. For instance Boulevard has a No Simultaneous policy, and they warn you that the editors may respond quickly. I say good. It certainly sucks to pay a couple bucks (when applicable) and get a rejection quickly, but that doesn't mean that editors are rejecting works out of hand. I know for a fact that when I was at The Seattle Review the editor in chief was up reading submissions at 2am when he couldn't sleep, and yes, would sometimes get five pages into a 25 page story and realize it wasn't a fit for the magazine and reject it. A quick rejection does not mean the submission wasn't read (necessarily) but perhaps that the editors are also writers and don't need to read a piece five times and ruminate over it for a sauna-filled afternoon to decide if they like it.

You followed all that, right?

So if you skipped the ranting, or if you read it, the idea is, while typically an outdated approach, journals that do not accept simultaneous submissions still represent a significant part of the literary arts publication community and because of their proclivities special actions must be made to submit to them (because only dickwriters submit simultaneous submissions to journals that don't accept simultaneous submissions).

With hundreds of journals whose tastes overlap, simultaneous submissions are mostly what we do. In order to pull an individual poem from the SS ranks it can take 6 months or more, because journals that accept simultaneous submissions tend to be a little more lackadaisical about making decisions and if you'd sent it out once to a journal that takes SSs, it can be awhile before you're safe to send it to a NoSS journal. So, we have to pick our poems carefully, and even plan ahead a bit for submissions, based on submission periods and whatnot. So that means that 5 poems per NoSS journal are pulled from general 'circulation' among appropriate literary journals for roughly a year in order to make one submission. Sometimes it's certainly worth it. There are a dozen journals out there at least that I'd hammer a big toenail off for an acceptance in that don't accept simultaneous submissions... well, at least six. So they're still relevant, it's just another part of the submission life that must be accounted for. Lost toenails.

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