Here’s how it used to work in the old days. If you wrote literary short stories, poetry, or literary criticism, you published those works in small literary journals. Some of these journals were famous, like the Paris Review, others not so famous, but the common bond was respect for artistic merit — however that might have been defined at any point on the often-trendy cultural continuum.
Last time I checked, most literary journals published only a few times a year, as most. Most paid little or nothing, or provided compensation in the form of one or more copies upon publication. Many if not most had stringent requirements about submissions, including refusing to consider multiple submissions. Many if not most took months to respond to authors, such that an author armed with a literary short story who followed all the rules might only be able to submit to two or three journals in a calendar year — with little or no assurance of eventual publication.
As the internet has grown, I do know that literary journals have added new wrinkles to protect their reputations, markets and cultural standing. One of these rules is that publication online in any form disqualifies a story or poem from consideration. It’s an understandable adaptation, but ignores the reality and importance of the internet in liberating the very voices that literary journals traditionally advocated for in the face of entertainment-driven commercialism.
All of which leads me to a whole spate of related questions…. [ Read more ]