Magazine Gold: March and April

13 Mar

I promised myself that I wouldn’t take advantage of the free 1-year subscription I received from Gus on Out Where the Buses Don’t Run. Consequently, I’m on my second of what will become six magazine summaries of Poets & Writers, this issue covering March and April. I didn’t find as much I wanted to share in this issue as I did the last, but there’s still some things worth exploring and discussion. Let’s dive in, shall we?

The article Where We Write by Mary Stewart Atwell struck a chord with me. She discusses if where we are from influences what we write and is enough to define us. She goes on to discuss if who we are as writers limits the characters we choose. As a white woman, would I ever write a book from the perspective of an Asian man? I almost feel I don’t have the right to. A white man, sure, but I don’t have the experience of another culture to feel comfortable writing from the point of view of another race. Have you ever written from the point of view of another race? Why or why not?

Having finally faced that first rejection letter, I was curious how someone who writes a book considered a ‘failure’ would feel to that type of rejection. So many of us dream of getting to publication because we think it will bring us the fame and recognition we all pine after, but what if it doesn’t? What if we get to publication and still find rejection and failure? Is there any way to recover? One of the authors interviewed had a book that was even a finalist for the Orange prize but couldn’t find a place to publish her book. Another of the authors, Miranda Beterly-Whittemore, was able to sell a second manuscript after her first failed. When she was lucky enough to start marketing the second one, she did everything she could to make the launch successful; blogging, tweeting, and an updated website. A lot of authors today must do their own marketing to help ensure success. Yet a third author, Nina Siegal, knew that with the ability to publish a second time that she had to take the job more seriously. Instead of writing in addition to her day job, she wanted to make sure that publishing her book was her primary goal. She had learned from her first publication that she could write a book, and this time around, she had to write a really good book.

One of the feature articles was an interview with Amy Einhorn, publisher of her own imprint with Penguin Random House. One of my favorite questions was when she was asked, “What feeling do you want to communicate to your authors at the end of your [editorial] letter?” and she answered, “Encouragement.” I love that she wants to encourage her writers and let them know that the changes she’s suggesting are not telling them that their book is bad and has no hope, but rather that they can change a few things to make it even stronger. Another part of the interview that stuck out to me was when she was talking about titles and how when a reader hears a title, it should stick with them. There’s no reason for a reader to forget a title when they go to buy it or search for it on Amazon; it should stick with them. I know my good friend Katherine is going to get her MFA soon and it’s made me look at myself as under qualified because I don’t have a degree like an MFA or even a degree in English. However, Einhorn says that maybe two of her authors have MFAs and that’s really it. I felt a little better. She also mentioned that the bio is usually the last thing she looks at when she reads a query. Thank God. She does say that voice is something that a writer has to have and she can’t teach, so I guess if an MFA will help you find voice, it might be worth it. The last thing she said that I’ll note is that she believes that marketing can only do so much if a book is not strong. She thinks that if a book is strong, it will find readers even if the marketing is a bit slow. Great literature worth reading will find its readers.

The feature topic of the issue was residencies and retreats. The first article talked about types of residencies and where you can go with them. P&W supplies a list of these on their website if you want to have a look. The difference between private and government sponsored residencies was described. Private residencies let a writer set their own schedule and to a degree let them work on whatever they want to. Government sponsored residencies tend to have more of an agenda and the writer is likely to help with environmental or documentation records in the area where they are, usually on government lands. The writers are normally expected to give back in some other way as well: donating a piece to a project that will benefit the effort.

I liked an article titled The People You Meet which discussed how to pitch agents and editors at conferences. I think this appealed to my business background because networking and making connections at business events was one of my favorite parts of that degree path. Many larger conferences will provide a forum for writers to meet with agents and editors, a large part of their appeal. Lance Cleland, director of the Tin House workshop said that writers shouldn’t think of agents as adversaries because truthfully they are the person a writer most wants in his corner. A writer needs a agent to fight for their book to have success. When pitching in person, agent Meredith Kaffel suggests sticking to themes and avoiding plot summaries. If the author can’t tell someone what the overarching themes are, who can?

Applying for a residency is a lot like pitching a novel, except that you’re trying to get someone to buy in before the book is done. Betsy Fagin is a judge for Millay Colony residency and offered some advice. She says to stick to a short letter and compelling writing sample. The letter should stick to your background, previous work, and an explanation of the project the artist proposes to work on.

The Agent Advice section in this article focused on Amy Rennert who owns her own agency. I found three points of her interview very useful. (1) If you’ve self-published without much success, don’t mention it when submitting to an agent. It doesn’t help you stand out. (2) If you are a journalist or columnist, make sure you say so. These professions tend to get a little more attention. (3) Don’t send your letter to more than one agent at an agency so make sure you research the agents at the agency before you pick which one you want to send to.

Journals Accepting Submissions

Little Star Journal, Changes in Life, the prompt, and The Rattle.

Conferences for others in the Michigan Area

Bear River Writer’s Conference, Ox-Bow, and Interlochen College.

Contests With Little Or No Entry Fee

Gemini Magazine ($5 entry), Sixfold ($3 entry), Frost Farm Prize ($5 entry), Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest, and Dancing Poetry ($5 entry).

Poets & Writers is a great resource. Check out their website for even more information.

Until next time, write on.

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4 Responses to “Magazine Gold: March and April”

  1. nicolejacob86 March 13, 2014 at 12:43 PM #

    Loved this article, Sam!! 🙂

    Like

    • Sam March 13, 2014 at 12:57 PM #

      Thanks, girl! Let me know if you want to borrow the issue.

      Liked by 1 person

      • nicolejacob86 March 13, 2014 at 1:00 PM #

        would love to borrow it!! next Thursday?

        Like

      • Sam March 13, 2014 at 1:01 PM #

        It’s yours for the taking.

        Liked by 1 person

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