Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How to get an author published

From: The Jargon
Date: Monday, March 12, 2007 12:06 AM
To: Vagabond Press
Subject: query

Is Vagabond Press accepting manuscript submissions?

I edit an online literary journal called Thieves Jargon (www.thievesjargon.com). One of my better writers has a manuscript of short stories, I thought I'd ask around on his behalf. The guy's name is Spencer Dew, he's a streetwise divinity student with a taste for exotic food, rare drink, and weird sex. Both his style and content cross between Henry Miller's thrill of the tactile and Chuck Palahniuk's pulpy intensity. He writes from Chicago, and his work sweats city grime.

Hey, I'm just sayin'.

Best,
Matt DiGangi
Thieves Jargon

39 comments:

Matt DiGangi said...

A word of explanation. I'm not posting this to toot my own horn; Mather's been tooting my horn enough recently.

Maybe this can be a lesson for younger editors wondering what they can do to help get a writer they admire some further circulation, and maybe somebody who hasn't already would get interested and check out Spencer's book, "Songs of Insurgency."

robp said...

Matt,

More power to you for anything you did to help get Spencer published. I don't know how helpful that letter would have been if the publisher didn't know you or didn't check you out. I think the writers at the small presses generally realize that their editors are supportive. I don't know that they're all as supportive as the Jargon. And anyone who's followed the Jargon over the years would know that Spencer Dew is one of your preferred writers. With good reason.

My preferred part of publishing is filled with idealistic cynics. We may not expect much, but we love what we love. The idea is to expose the best writing to as many people as we can. Which in this case specifically means encouraging people to read Spencer Dew.

And if you don't mind the mention of a TJ press author, I'll rave about Delphine LeCompte at the drop of a hat (don't really know what that means, trying to envision a dropping hat as a conversation starter).

Sorry to have missed your horn being tooted, unless that's some sexual reference, in which case I'm sorry I brought it up.

Cheers,
rob
swill

mather said...

My problem is with friends publishing friends (or pulling strings to help them get published), editors giving preferential treatment to other editors, etc. If your pull didn't matter why didn't Dew write his own letter? Your post just proves my point: Dew probably wouldn't have been published by Vagabond or even considered without your letter. You are proud to help your friends in this fasion, and you think it elevates your character, but while you are patting yourself on the back the literature of our time is becoming more and more diluted. The ideals of the big publishing houses start right here at the bottom with people like you, DiGangi.

Go to Girlswithinsurance.com to see my first column. Madore offered to let me do one column every three weeks for a year.

Matt DiGangi said...

Here's where your argument is weak: The publisher still had to evaluate the manuscript and decide for themselves to edit, design, and put up money for the printing of the book. If they did all that solely on the word of a stranger, then my word has far more value than I thought possible. The idea that I or anybody else shouldn't help writers they admire get published is preposterous.

mather said...

You are not a "stranger", you are an editor of a fairly popular zine, and besides Madore figures in there somewhere too. The editor at Vagabond might not be your best Sunday pal but if your word was not better than a stranger's word then why bother writing the letter at all? Did you not think to yourself: "I am Matt DiGangi, I'll write the letter, this guy will listen to me." Again, I ask: why didn't Dew write his own letter? And don't give me that song and dance about how much it cost to publish the book, lay it out, etc. Give me numbers if you're going to talk like that. For all I know Dew paid for it and did the layout work himself.

Yes, it becomes "preposterous" when publishing is just a game between friends. I have no doubt that 90 percent of all publishing is done this way, and that is why there is so much dishwater out there.

Your mistake is you think you are a mature judge of real talent, that you are a trend setter, when in reality you are only caught up in the same fads and hip language/pop culture bullshit that most everybody else is. There is evidence of this in the letter itself. Chuck P., sure! Sweating city grime, ok, bro...

Matt DiGangi said...

If my word is better than a stranger, that's probably because I've put in my time and demonstrated myself a decent judge of content and ability. Not to say there haven't been some lemons, but TJ has pushed the work of nearly 700 people by now, and I'd consider maybe 25 of those people to be friends. I don't see how we can be a cadre of back-slapping secret password pals when so many people have been published here.

What you saw between Spencer, myself, and Vagabond Press was a smaller-scale version of the agenting process. Agents act as middlemen between writers and publishers all the time, it's an essential component of any large publishing operation. Publishers who can afford to publish the work of people who aren't just their friends get inundated with so much material, they frequently need somebody they can trust as a go-between. These screeners are trusted for their knowledge of the markets and ability to evaluate talent that might be appropriate for a given press. Sure, some agents are friends with their authors, but those friendships usually come through an admiration for the writing done on the author's part.

The publishing game isn't about friends, but it certainly is fun to work with friends. I've had friends help with cover art, layout, and web design, which has saved me a lot of money. At its most idealistic, publishing is about sharing ideas, stories, or information. It's still a business, though. If a publisher is going to only print their friends' meritless work without any editorial evaluation, they're going to go out of business, even though they're probably going to go out of business anyway, a function of a tricky and expensive business. You want to talk the business of publishing, I could do it all day, but your arguments lack substance and intelligence, and I think I'm about done with you for the time being.

I know you need the last word, so you can have it.

renaissance jones said...

So, according to Mother's logic the only way to get published w/out the "pals" conspiracy would be to sit at home and hope someone somehow finds out you are a good writer. But, that person couldn't tell anyone else, see?
I guess this also means that Mother surely has not been published in the same journal twice, right? That would fly in the face of his weird arguement. Maybe they only took his work the second time because he is "pals" with them now.
Does anyone else get the feeling that Mother is trying to cultivate a martyr complex?
"Poor guy. His genius was never appreciated because he refused to play thier game..."
Transparent and pathetic. The double whammy.

Hey DiGangi, any time you wanna start telling people what a good writer I am you knock yourself out. That goes for you too, Rob!

mather said...

Gee, thanks for the last word...what a highroad pussy statement that is...like you're never going to say anything ever again...

Thanks for explaining what an agent is...I never heard of that term before...

You've given me exactly nothing new to think about, but I do appreciate that you engage me and let my statements stand without censor...that is something rare and don't think I don't respect that...I do.

mather said...

Steve, as usual you sound like a fool. I am appreciated in many places and not because I beg people to appreciate me or pretend that I am a hipster. I send my stuff out unadorned with accolades or letters of recommendation and let the words speak for themselves. I am published not because I am connected but because I am interesting. I am not jealous and I am not seeking to be a martyr. I am a troll.

By the way, got some new poems coming out in Gargoyle, Commonline and Orange Room Review. Plus fiction in Bull's Fiction. It's a big world out there.

renaissance jones said...

How in the fuck does Mother think everyone else gets published? The SAME GODDAMN WAY HE JUST DESCRIBED.
That was too easy. Even for a fool...

mather said...

Except of course with Dew's book, which was the topic of conversation, thumb-dick. Here's an idea, Steve: read all the previous comments and the blog entry before posting.

renaissance jones said...

Mother won't seem to understand that this is just another part of his typical pattern: delusions of grandeur followed by severe conspiritorial paranoia. It doesn't matter what the subject is, Mother will always end up crying favoritism.
It's a built-in excuse for failure.
No matter how Songs of Insurgency got published, Mother just knows it was unfair to him somehow.

I do like the idea of him writing an article. His post are a hell of a lot more interesting than his poems.

scott said...

"Thumb-dick" made me laugh.


...and that is my contribution to this discussion.

Nathan said...

"No matter how Songs of Insurgency got published, Mother just knows it was unfair to him somehow."

Now there's a nut worth nubbling on.

mather said...

How is it unfair to me? I am not trying to get published by Vagabond, I am not fishing for Matt DiGangi's favors...

It's not about what is fair, it's about the fact that boring crap is being published every day and nobody is asking WHY. Who likes it this writing? Am I the only one who doesn't like Spencer Dew? Am I the only one who doesn't like J.A. Tyler? Or Pokrass?

Maybe I am crazy...

Spencer Troxell said...

Your personal taste doesn't make you crazy, Mather. The magnitude of your indignation at art that doesn't please you, however, does seem more than a little disproportionate.

crackers said...

there is extreme paranoia. i like dew's work. do i think he'll get a nobel prize? not tomorrow.

i'm sure there is stuff out there that you DO like, Mather, right?

mather said...

Not much, Crackers, not much...Every once in a while Hyde will get to me, or Koweski, or J.J. Campbell or M. P. Powers...I think good writing is extremely rare, and I don't like fiction hardly at all. Fiction by its very definition is mostly artifice, contrived and usually meant only to be diversionary entertainment, which this society has far too much of already. I can often find one piece by an author that I like, but I can't say that there is any youngish writer that I admire or think is doing anything new, in general. I include myself in that. Everybody is too connected, too interested in sounding alike. It has always been this way but the internet is bringing it to a whole new level...many people think this is a good thing, but to me it is like an assembly line of mediocrity...

As far as the "magnitude of my indignation"...people are always acting like I should apologize for caring, for getting angry, for being passionate, unreasonable, etc. I do not think people should feel ashamed of emotion, no matter how many of you comfortable desk sitters shake your head and roll your eyes. I am covered in stray hairs and full of imperfection. There are too many cool heads around, too many smooth operators, smug voices, totally in control and, to me, boring. You've got it all figured out? Fine. You never get upset and lose your head? Fine. I do. I've also realized if you want to be noticed you've got to get LOUD. People are deaf and blind.

It is hilarious that a guy named Crackers is psychoanalizing me...

Spencer Troxell said...

You're right, Mather. Loudness does seem to garner much more attention than a calm voice.

I'm not opposed to passion by any means, I just wonder how healthy it is to allow yourself to be rattled so easily.

mather said...

What do you mean by "healthy"?

Spencer Troxell said...

I'm referring to blood pressure & peace of mind type issues.

Spencer Troxell said...

Not that I always make the healthiest choices for myself. 'the magnitude of your indignation' many find an equal in the magnitude of my indigestion.

mather said...

That is funny! The human digestion system is notoriously inefficient...and it is so connected to emotions it can be uncomfortable...well, life is not all about peace, is it? Everything can't be peace all the time. How dull would that be?

Detector said...

Read the new poem by Mathers Shneidermeyer on my blog.

collective said...

To troll is to post deliberately incendiary content to a discussion forum or other online community—say, kitten-torture fantasies on a message board for cat lovers—for no other reason than to stir up chaos and outrage. Trolling is (for the troll, at least) a source of amusement... wired magazine.

collective said...

mathers, sick poem bru. best i've read in ages.

Detector said...

You really like it? I appreciate that.

mather said...

So, now DiGangi has explained what an agent is and collective has explained what a troll is. You learn something new every day on Thieves Jargon messageboard.

Detector said...

Mather from now on you will be known as "Gossip Girl".

collective said...

that's Wired magazines definition of a troll from this article. i thought it interesting, having just perused this refreshing messageboard.

http://www.wired.com/culture/culturereviews/magazine/17-10/mf_chanology

Detector said...

Wasn't Wired magazine the one that exposed Stephen Glass? I'm not sure. I just remember it was awesome because he was Darth Vader.

mather said...

that definition sounds like the Wik definition that's been up for a long time now. But's it's nice to be refreshed of news like the sky is blue, etc. Did that Wired (they worship the pop culture around here) article say anything about people posting under false names?

common said...

they exposed James Earle Jones' a Million Little Pieces to be actually written by gossip girl, who we all know is like the tin man and has no heart.

you should read the article. it's all about posting under false names.

false name said...

http://www.4chan.org/

lolkatz

Nathan said...

They were talking about 4chan on Wired the other day in regard to a scene where some guy put Vaseline and pubes all over himself and ran into a Mormon events center.

Wired has good pictures of outer space.

gossip girl said...

scientology. not mormon. 4chan be all like at war with the sciene'ology.

they have great pictures of outer space... from amaeutures.

that's the fucking article i linked.

Nathan said...

DiGang needs to stop studying and get more entertaining.

Matt DiGangi said...

I'm watching baseball.

in this way no one knows me and i'm better than you said...

mathers,

they're begging for your input over (here) http://htmlgiant.com/?p=15997 in regards to nepotism in (independent) publishing.