February 21, 2017

Disturbing numbers from the small press world

On June 11, 2015, I submitted twelve queries for my collection of short stories titled No Call Too Small. Seven publishers responded within six months, one took over a year, three included extensive comments after serious consideration, and four have not responded at all. The last number is the most annoying. I don’t pretend to understand the inner workings of a small press, but the general story seems to be that the workers are either underpaid and overworked or unpaid and overworked. Both groups are overwhelmed by the height of the slush pile. Given the extreme power imbalance between writer and publisher, this situation never has to change. Publishers don’t need to respond in a timely manner. They don’t need to respond at all because those manuscripts will keep coming no matter what they do. There are no consequences for ignoring submissions, but that isn’t my point. When some houses respond in a reasonable time frame, even though they don’t have to, we know there are other forces at work. Those editors realize that it isn’t ethical or professional to leave writers hanging for over a year. A higher level of service is internalized in their culture. Small presses, if […]
February 7, 2017

Nadine McInnis and the attack of the cry bullies

Nadine McInnis is the author of nine books of poetry, short fiction and literary criticism. She has twice been awarded the Ottawa Book Award, most recently in 2016 for her collection of poems, Delirium for Solo Harp. Her most recent book of fiction, Blood Secrets, was long-listed for the international Frank O’Connor Short Story Award and short-listed for the Ottawa Book Award and the ReLit Award. She teaches writing in the Professional Writing program at Algonquin College. OM:  When I had the pleasure of being your student, I was relieved to find you open to whatever we could produce. It was the early 90s, and we were living through a wave of political correctness. One of my fellow classmates did not like the subject matter of the work I had presented for review. In it, bad things happened, and people behaved poorly. It suggested that the world was an unfair place full of competitive, selfish, sometimes cruel people pursuing their own self-interest. My angry classmate seemed to think that all events and subjects in poetry should closely align with the ideal world that social justice warriors were trying to create. Art was an opportunity to advance the agenda of living in […]