Tainted Submissions
April 3, 2003 3:52 PM   Subscribe

Be happy MeFi has better standards than this. No, I have no interest in submitting works to these folks, and if I had, I wouldn't bother. And not in fear of rejection, but in embarrassment of simply reading their submission guidlines that only the Soup Nazi could appreciate. Have any MeFites ever come across guidelines such as this?
posted by bluedaniel (42 comments total)
Personally... I think they're great submission guidlines. In short all they say is... "Make it easy for us", "Don't show off (We're not interested in how famous you are)", "Copyright belongs to you", "We can publish work submitted by you in any versions of the magazine we want."

Seems pretty normal to me. Mind you, I'm not sure what a soup Nazi is, so I best not get too carried away.
posted by seanyboy at 4:02 PM on April 3, 2003

bluedaniel, all print magazines are at least as strict as this, as is every publication, online or print, that pays its contributors. Mefi isn't a magazine, it's a (more or less) open forum, so there's no basis for comparison.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:03 PM on April 3, 2003

You both make good points (seanyboy and george). But could they not have stated that without all the attitude?

I thought about the comparison afterwards and realized it doesnt make one, my fault on that. I was leaning more towards submission guidelines in general.

I am aware of various media guideines (we have very strict requirements at work), but that is just loaded with more attitude than guidelines.
posted by bluedaniel at 4:10 PM on April 3, 2003

I like the attitude. It reminds me of (Shamelessly plugs own website). One of the problems with poetry magazines at the moment is that they have no bite. Everybody is treated with kid gloves, everything is nice or good or interesting. My own personal opinion is that this is destroying the poetry world.

However, the mark of hypocrisy taints Taint. Compare the guidelines Under no circumstances should you include your biographical information, awards you have won, with the information that comes with this poem. I smell nepotism.
posted by seanyboy at 4:17 PM on April 3, 2003

Picture this in Panavision 3-D memory: a writhing mass of testosterone huddling close to the smell of cunt.

This is the opening sentence to Cooking with Betty, one of the articles which presumably made it past thier strict guidelines.
posted by haqspan at 4:17 PM on April 3, 2003

And I still don't know what a "soup dragon" is.
posted by seanyboy at 4:18 PM on April 3, 2003

Frankly, their honesty is refreshing. I'm not familiar with the magazine's content, but their guidelines specifically solicit a unique type of contributor - one who is self-aware of her talent but at the same time has a humble ego.

If only graduate schools, honor societies, and other organizations who select members from a large talent pool were that honest.
posted by PrinceValium at 4:20 PM on April 3, 2003

Your point - haqspan?
posted by seanyboy at 4:22 PM on April 3, 2003

Apart from the fact that it should be "huddled close".
posted by seanyboy at 4:23 PM on April 3, 2003

"we at taint don't care if you've F^@&!$ the Queen of England"

...should read, "...if you have"

I am "wowed" by the poet Chris Youngs': "She looks at the avacado under the shredded carrot and says I know you love me"
Stunning piece. I am impressed by the fresh approach and crisp realism.

(someone fetch me the forrest green semtex)
posted by clavdivs at 4:24 PM on April 3, 2003

Soup Nazi = Seinfeld character with a bad disposition
posted by chris24 at 4:26 PM on April 3, 2003

Meh. I'm underwhelmed by their hipster-coolness. They're playing to the "wouldn't join a club that would have me" audience, and I'm grateful to have grown out of all that.
posted by padraigin at 4:30 PM on April 3, 2003

If you fail to comply with any of the below referenced guidelines, your submission will not be considered, unless one of us has had a particularly good day.

Pretentious yet (hopefully?) a little tongue-in-cheek, I think taint's obnoxious guidelines cut to the chase and epitomizes the true attitude of most submissions editors:

"Make our day. Just give us an excuse to toss your submission unread. Fail to follow our stringent and sometimes contradictory guidelines and we will label you a dumbass and never consider anything you submit ever again."

(The preceding opinion naturally excludes any editors to which I am currently submitting, who are all wonderful good-natured folks with high IQs and impressive social skills.)
posted by Shane at 4:37 PM on April 3, 2003

BTW: Funny stuff, Dan!
Also, typo: epitomizes should be epitomize in my comment above. Editors make me nervous.

posted by Shane at 4:39 PM on April 3, 2003

"The preceding opinion naturally excludes any editors to which I am currently submitting, who are all wonderful good-natured folks with high IQs and impressive social skills"

Where do we send the check sir?
posted by bluedaniel at 4:42 PM on April 3, 2003

I like the attitude

Likewise. For an even more pissed-off style of guidelines, see the Do Not Press ("Ninety-nine per cent of all authors sending stuff to us have no idea what we do and think that the drivel written about us in the Writers and Artists Yearbook – which doesn't top the bestseller charts every year by giving authors negative information – is actually true").

As to the destruction of the poetry world, I largely blame the big-business vanity anthology phenomenon, which unfortunately makes a lot of deluded no-hopers think their work is worth sending to publications with real editorial standards.

posted by raygirvan at 4:46 PM on April 3, 2003

These are more forgiving requirements than those of other print mags, whose submission requirements I've read through, e.g. in the Poet's Market or Writer's Market. Look through these. the guidelines can be much worse. (i.e. what seanyboy said)

Why is a front page post so obviously a troll? Quit ya bitchin'' woman! Damn! If you can't follow simple instructions, don't bother the rest of us about it. As for this comment: "In all probability, your work will be rejected by taint magazine." This is simply a fact of life for submitting works to most publications, they simply don't tell you.
posted by BlueWolf at 4:49 PM on April 3, 2003

"we at taint don't care if you've F^@&!$ the Queen of England"

is this a requirement for publication?

Not at Taint
posted by clavdivs at 4:59 PM on April 3, 2003

A magazine devoted entirely to taints?!?!?! Mr. Show as prophecy!
posted by Homeskillet Freshy Fresh at 5:01 PM on April 3, 2003

I like the attitude
Why is a front page post so obviously a troll?

*has realization, smacks head*
My God: You're all editors, aren't you?
*panics, runs away*
posted by Shane at 5:05 PM on April 3, 2003

Calling Neal Pollack, the greatest living American writer, explains a whole lot. Not that Pollack is all that bad, but far from the greatest. Yet another, "we are smarmy, so we are literate" bunch.

posted by timsteil at 5:07 PM on April 3, 2003

The submission guidelines match the tone of the magazine itself- that's fairly standard procedure for the industry. What I find interesting, however, is that none of this attitude toward submissions comes with any indication of payment that I can find anywhere, which, funnily enough, is pretty standard for the industry: editors count on the fact that new pro-freelancers will believe that a publishing "credit" is actually worth something. For all of taint's hip, edgy sheen, they're just another brick in the establishment.
posted by headspace at 5:10 PM on April 3, 2003

If you like the attitude...then you'll love Romantic Mary's "How to E-Mail Me If You Want a Response" guidelines.
posted by Dunvegan at 5:23 PM on April 3, 2003

That link should have been "How to E-Mail Me If You Want a Response" guidelines.


Now she'll never e-mail me in response to my question, "Mary, do you ever wonder why you haven't found Mr. Right yet?"
posted by Dunvegan at 5:25 PM on April 3, 2003

As someone who's written a few, my view is that submission guidelines are written for the benefit of the editors themselves, to make their rag and their own role seem grander and more important than in fact they are.

Writers don't care which rag publishes their bread-and-butter stuff for magazines and newspapers. Editors hate having to explain to them, when commissioning stuff, what XYPTO is about. So they take it out on the amateurs.

Good editors will publish any piece of work they think is any good - and a fair amount of filler borderline rubbish - even if it's written on the back of a Cornflakes box. The one difference is that unsolicited stuff has to be good. The borderline rubbish is what they've invited writers to write and paid for.

My advice is disregard guidelines altogether*. If only you knew how off-putting it is to receive a manuscript all primly according to the guidelines. If you want attention, the old "I am a genius and I don't care what you think" attitude is still what works best in this miserable trade. Of course, for that, the rest of the pack have to obediently follow all the guidelines...

*For which MetaFilter, as you all know, is first-class experience.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:47 PM on April 3, 2003

Dunvegan: that is the scariest yet saddest site I've seen for a while...
posted by raygirvan at 5:53 PM on April 3, 2003

Yep, Mary looking for beige, thin welcome mat....

Romantic? Mary needs to look in the dictionary what that word means. Yikes!
posted by alicesshoe at 6:07 PM on April 3, 2003

I think Mary's gonna be searching for quite a while.
posted by alumshubby at 6:29 PM on April 3, 2003

Be happy MeFi has better standards than this.

It does? If only it had standards anywhere near that high. In contrast, you can publish pretty much any old rubbish here and, as long as you have included a link to something on the Internet that has not been linked here before, it will be accepted. Even poorly written submissions that fail to make clear the point of their very existence are acceptable. If you doubt that, just look here.
posted by dg at 6:35 PM on April 3, 2003

I understand rejections. I've never submitted any written works before (though do have a couple of animations at bornmag.org), but I do see how the process works in broadcasting, and I can attest that we receive an overwhelming amount of submissions, 99% of which is pure crap and you're embarrassed for the applicant, and 1% that is shear brilliance where you think "damn, I wish I were as good, and I work here."

In broadcasting, we have guidelines, nothing of the sort as Taint may indicate, and we respect what we receive. Not like it? No. But respect the effort? Yes. Most of the time.

By coincidence only, I have upon a shelf over here a copy of Andre Bernard's "Rotten Rejections," which is a collection of rejection letters through the ages.

A few selections...

Lolita - Vladimir Nabakov 1955-

I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.

The Good Earth, Pearl Buck 1931-

(We) regret the American public are not interested in anything on China.

Moby Dick, Herman Melville 1851-

We do not think it would at all suitable for the Juvenile Market in this country.

Northanger Abbey, Jane Austin 1818-

We are willing to return the manuscript for the same (advance) as we paid for it.

Unpublished Story Collection, Harry Crews 1900-

Burn it, son, burn it. Fire is a great refiner.

Early, Untitled, Poetry Manuscript, Emily Dickinson 1862-

Queer - the rhymes are all wrong. They are quite as remarkable for defects as for beauties and are generally devoid of true poetical qualities.

Sanctuary, William Faulkner 1931-

Good God, I can't publish this. We'd both be in jail.
posted by bluedaniel at 6:41 PM on April 3, 2003

Point well taken. But at your own expense? I say no!

I wrote a few comments up that my statement of Be happy MeFi has better standards than this was off target. I was playing with words and the idea of submissions overall (i.e. concerns of IraqFilter and content, etc). I should have re-worded the post's intent.

Or rather, in a word - oops.
posted by bluedaniel at 6:47 PM on April 3, 2003

On the Road

"thats not writing, it's typing"
posted by clavdivs at 6:53 PM on April 3, 2003

Gee, I didn't notice any mention of payment rates. Nothing like trying to please a snarky editor in order to get "published" in a shitty webzine that doesn't even pay. Even shitty print mags will pay in copies. Man, it must be an honor to be published in Taint if you damn near have to beg to give your work away.
posted by MikeMc at 8:24 PM on April 3, 2003

Here's the truth about the literary market: it sucks. Begging to give away your work is precisely what it's all about. Been doing it for years now. I've also handed out my share of rejections, and I have to vehemently disagree with Miguel: if you send me a crappy, hard-to-read manuscript, I'll send it straight back, even if it does scream genius. All I want is a good story, not attitude. (And the same goes for editors, Taint.)

Also: little actual editing seems to be happening. Editors for literary magazines generally just pick.
posted by muckster at 8:44 PM on April 3, 2003

I think headspace and MikeMc nailed it. The guidelines are fine, in fact, I thought they were slightly amusing...but the reprint rights are absurd for some pretentious webzine that doesn't offer a fee schedule for accepted submissions.

Muckster raises some valid points, but I'd say, after years of being a freelance writer, that getting paid matters a whole lot more than giving your stuff away for page views. I agree that very little editing seems to go on, in fact, I've had errors introduced by the publisher...typo's, formatting errors, bad line breaks, and the like.

I also agree, that as an editor, if submissions come in unreadable then they get automatically rejected...but I'm not a super-stickler for the guidelines.
posted by dejah420 at 8:59 PM on April 3, 2003

Oh my god -- a pretentious litmag! Stop the presses! Watch out, Dave Eggers!

Writing is a business. Guidelines ought to be business-like. Guidelines like this are a mark of amateurism. And when you're asking people to spend their time, talent, and effort helping you out for free, you'd better be a good deal more civil than this if you want to attract anybody halfway decent.

But, none of this is particularly groundbreaking.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 10:27 PM on April 3, 2003

My submission:

previously published

please entertain this poem
for me,
i am exhausted from trying.
many others have tried
and failed.
mcsweeneys for example and salon
but it did win poem-of-the-month
at anothersite
so sorry but i thought
i thought you wouldn't
t'aint such a big thing
and they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold.
posted by taz at 12:35 AM on April 4, 2003

Rotten Rejections

We all know the stories. Watership Down ... Day of the Jackal ... blah. Unfortunately they sustain the amateur fallacy that "X is now recognised as a great work but was rejected Y times; my work has been similarly rejected therefore might be great".
posted by raygirvan at 2:54 AM on April 4, 2003

I daily mourn my weenie; it's so thin and teeny,
its not a big willy wide and thick.
It's just angst for the spankin' and it's hookers I'm thankin'
that I haven't tied it off to a brick.

And heave-ho! in the ocean,
In one fluid motion
rid the world of this flatworm of a cock
and use this pen as a penis
Because you know, just between us,

oh, damn. Forgot the last line...
posted by Perigee at 8:18 AM on April 4, 2003

Good editors will publish any piece of work they think is any good - and a fair amount of filler borderline rubbish - even if it's written on the back of a Cornflakes box.

*packs up a big crate of scribbled-on Kellogg's boxes, preparatory to shipping them off to Portugal*
posted by Vidiot at 12:49 PM on April 4, 2003

With respect specifically to the paragraph about "not including biographical information," and more generally about taint's guidelines, I'm posting this mainly because I think it offers an important perspective (that of a long-time writer and former editor), and states it far more elegantly than I could myself.

"Still leaving a bad taste in my mouth was the contributor who had talked of the various magazines in which he had published work 'looking good on a cover letter'. I wondered if, at other journals, cover letters actually got read before the work that the letters supported. I opened and read many submissions in my short journal-editor's career. If I didn't like the work, I didn't read the cover letter."

From "Requiem for a Literary Journal"
posted by blevin at 8:14 AM on April 5, 2003

Just so. From experience in Writers' Group situations, I'm well aware how dubious amateur writers' CVs can be: a common trick is listing publication in some high-profile newspaper or magazine, and omitting to say that it was in the Letters Page.
posted by raygirvan at 3:40 PM on April 5, 2003

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