Tag Archives: submission

Brevity Magazine: Concise Literary Nonfiction

 

Brevity is another good venue for nonfiction writers.

Essays published on Brevity are 750 words or less. Flash nonfiction, a twist on flash fiction, which Wikipedia tells me has been popular for about twenty or more years, meaning it’s a form that’s really come into its own with the advent of the Web and (presumably) online journals. You won’t find too many journals devoted entirely to nonfiction, and fewer still are nonfiction journals that impose a word count on essays. I can think of only Brevity.

Brevity also has a blog, which is a good place to read about publishing opportunities for nonfiction writers, the latest nonfiction furor or book, and—best of all—brief blog posts from authors who appear in the latest issue of Brevity magazine. These author posts are my favorites, offering insight or commentary on some aspect of the published story—think of it as an author reading in print.

Dinty Moore (Between Panic and Desire and The Accidental Buddhist) is Brevity’s editor. Warm, generous, smart, Dinty has published some of my pieces, turned some other pieces down, and even helped me with my childhood memoir project, which I’m still hammering away on. He’s a great guy.

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Modern Love in the New York Times

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The New York Times’ Modern Love is one the best non-fiction venues available today. I call your attention to this week and last week’s columns, both of which are excellent.

When I started to submit my work, I was largely focused on literary magazines. I was not familiar with Modern Love, but fortunately for me someone in my writing group was. Some writers say you shouldn’t submit a story to a big name venue until you’ve amassed some publishing credits, but I think that’s crazy. What makes more sense to me is to look for where your work will best fit, regardless of the publication’s size or prestige.

My Modern Love story prominently features a Yankee’s cap, which (I’m sure) improved its chances for publication in the New York Times. The story explores the challenges an estranged father faces, building a relationship with his son. I submitted the story in January, which offered plenty of lead time for a Father’s Day publication, although I (oddly) hadn’t even considered this at the time.

Modern Love doesn’t appear in my Writer’s Market, which may explain why I was not familiar with it. Sometimes you learn the best place to publish your work by networking with other writers. The only submission guidelines I’ve found for Modern Love were from a Q&A, hosted by Dan Jones (Modern Love editor) on the New York Times blog site.

Here is Mr Jones on submitting:

Modern Love is open to anyone and we welcome unsolicited submissions. You can send submissions to modernlove@nytimes.com. They should be no more than 1800-2000 words in length (final run length is closer to 1700 words) and the essay should be both pasted into the email and attached as a word document.

UPDATE: The New York Times has publisehd an official submission page for Modern Love essays: How to Submit Modern Love Essays. Good luck!

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The Sun Magazine Responds

I finally got a response from The Sun. They couldn’t use my story Saved. When they say they may take six months, they really mean it. I sent it out to them early last November. I sent it so long ago, they had to affix a little extra postage to get my SASE back to me. I thought that was mighty nice of them.

Twice now people have suggested I send them my story The Solution to All My Problems. After reading some of Poe Ballantine‘s work, I believe they may be right. I’d love to have a story in The Sun.

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The Sun Magazine

The Sun Magazine seems like my kind of journal.

This is a followup to my earlier effort, about figuring out how to submit my work. And a big part of accomplishing that is figuring out where to submit your work.

Short fiction and poetry dominate most literary journals, so it’s nice to find a magazine with as strong a commitment to personal narrative as The Sun. They seem to favor longer stories. And now they’re offering more money for work that’s accepted for publication.

But they take a long time to respond. I’ve had my story, Saved, out to them since November 3.

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Strange Submission

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Today I sent my story, The Solution to All My Problems, over to The Stranger, which bills itself as Seattle’s only newspaper. It’s certinally the only Seattle newspaper that’s going to publish a story about jacking your Mom’s purse, even if it is told in an amusing way.

The story doesn’t freak me out as much anymore. It’s a commodity. I’m just another struggling writer sending his work around. I realize it’s not the kind of story you can tell at a party (or even an AA meeting, it turns out). But I like to think it works as an essay.

Let’s see what The Stranger thinks.

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Close, But So Far


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I almost got one past the editors over at Brevity.

Alas, it was not meant to be. I got the rejection slip on Valentine’s Day, but was pleased to see that the editor, Dinty Moore, said my story (20/20) had been “deliberated carefully and enjoyed.” 

Today I spent a good part of the morning and early afternoon submitting more of my work. You have to expect rejection. Competition is tough. You have to revel in even being considered.

It’s only a matter of time.

And submissions.

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Murder She Spoke

Alice Sebold is on tour for her new book, and last night Kennedy and I went to see her.

I read somewhere that writers have responsibilities that go beyond writing, namely buying books and attending readings. Because I feel guilty buying so many books, this idea is immensely satisfying for me. It’s not just another book to pile in stacks on the floor, it’s an investment in my career. Readings are something else altogether. I never feel guilty about going to readings. Instead I feel uncomfortable, especially in the little receiving line to get my book signed. Even though I know Alice, last night was no different.

Alice remembered me, which was nice. I presented Kennedy, but this seemed to baffle Alice. One of the guys I work seemed shocked when he heard I was taking my daughter to the reading. And I’ll admit I wondered if it was the right thing to do myself. Alice’s big theme is violence to women, and her new book even features a matricide. But Kennedy got so excited about our date after I first suggested it, I didn’t have the heart to leave her at home. Lucky for me Alice picked something to read that didn’t require any explaining.

So another reading under my belt. Alice looks pretty much like I remember her, except a little bit older.

Speaking of writer responsibilities, last week I submitted my story, The Solution to All My Problems, to Tin House, primarily because their Spring issue is themed “Off the Grid,” by which they mean “stories about people that function out of the bounds of “normal” society.” It probably behooves me to do more research on journals, but the deadline for submissions was fast approaching, so I just made sure they publish non-fiction and sent it out.

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I Sent Ira Glass An Essay About My …

This American Life is one of my favorite radio shows.

The danger with submitting an essay to them is that when they reject it, I may be too hurt to continue listening to their show. And that would be a shame, because I really like the show. Earlier this month, I sent them my story, The Solution to All My Problems.

I’m also looking at some other journals that don’t mind simultaneous submissions. For the next issue of Tin House, the theme is “Off the Grid.” They’re looking for nonfiction “by or about people or institutions that function (or don’t function) out of the bounds of “normal” society.”  

This story sort of freaks me out. Now that I’ve sent it to my writing group, I feel compelled to keep sending it out until I find it a home. If I can’t find it a place on public radio or in a nice lit mag, I’ll send it to the Grapevine.

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Submit!

I’ve decided to start submitting my creative non-fiction work to lit mags. I’ve only ever submitted a few stories in my life, but never have I had anything published. As always, I could use some help.

Despite my inexperience, I’ve come up with a few guidelines:

No longer will I submit to contests or magazines that require fees. I’m not in this for the money (I would be hard pressed to earn more with literary than technical writing). And I realize that having work rejected is part and parcel of the literary writing game. But paying a fee to have your work ignored seems silly. I’m not completely ruling out paying a fee, but I’ve only got so much time for submitting work, and the fee-based venues go to the bottom of the sort.

If I ain’t in it for the money, I am in it to boost my fragile ego (or at least earn some bragging rights). I am shooting for the best non-fiction publications, or at least the ones that will publish my work. This is where I could use the most help. When I asked my friend Gary Presley what he thought were some of the more prestigious non-fiction magazines, he offered some suggestions (links appear below my blogroll). One of my friends from the IWW suggested The Sun Magazine for a piece I recently submitted for critique.

For Christmas one year, Holly gave me one of those thick books that list all the publishers, but I haven’t found it too useful. It lists magaiznes by how much they pay and the genres they publish, but there wasn’t a particularly comprehensive list of non-fiction publications. For example, I could’t find listed Creative Non-Fiction Magazine or Brevity, which are the only two literary magazines that focus solely on creative non-fiction.

It looks like finding a venue that matches your own particular style is the toughest part about submitting (or if not the toughest, at least the first part). It doesn’t help that a lot of these magazines don’t have recent issues online or free back issues. Research is going to take an investment of time and money, but I don’t see any other way. 

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