From Papa Eyeshot (2/20/2011)
I don't see how you could have made it any more difficult for writers
to submit their work to Eyeshot. What is wrong with electronic submissions?
It sounds like a postcard is enough for you to evaluate the work. That
doesn't seem possible. I was really surprised to read that submissions
were open but the mailbox is really tiny. Would you go buy stamps and postcards?
It should be easy to send in stuff. Ask yourself what The New Yorker would
Reply from Eyeshot Editor (2/21/2011)
As I've said so often whenever you've sent such transmissions re: Eyeshot's
upkeep, why don't you open a blogspot account and edit your own site? Assuming
you won't do that, I'll respond to questions and statements posted above.
1) What's wrong with electronic submissions?
E-mailed submissions make it too easy for folks with no familiarity
with the site to e-mail stories without really having read anything on
the site, without having any sense of the siteís so-called aesthetic. Itís
essentially too easy to see Eyeshot listed on Duotrope or somewhere like
that, find the submission e-mail address, and shoot off a story.
2) It sounds like a postcard is enough for you evaluate the work.
That doesnít seem possible.
A submitter might only take a few seconds reviewing the site before
e-mailing a submission -- and I
can evaluate their submission nearly as quickly. After reading the first
few sentences and scanning other areas of the story, I can get a sense
of the submissionís literary DNA -- that is, the style, the perspective,
the swerve, the humor, the intelligence, the authority, the insight, etc.
Therefore, if someone takes the time to handwrite a few sentences on a
postcard, I can review that text and see if itís something Iíd like to
continue reading -- if so, Iíll e-mail the writer and ask to see the complete
story, after which I might reject or accept, as always.
3) I was really surprised to read that submissions were open but
the mailbox is really tiny. Would you go buy stamps and postcards?
Iím not sure what you mean here by "the mailbox is tiny"? Do you mean
my apartmentís mailbox? Itís large enough to accommodate hundreds of postcards,
Iím pretty sure. But I donít expect to receive more than a few a week.
The point is to make things more difficult but also different
therefore maybe more interesting for writers out there, to create some
sort of actual physical papery old-fashioned connection with an otherwise
digital blip-and-click lit site. If I liked Eyeshot and wanted to contribute
a story to it and had a postcard and a stamp handy, Iíd maybe write a few
sentences and my e-mail address on it and send it off to see what happens.
Itís easier than printing out the complete story and packing it off with
a self-addressed stamped envelope for the eventual form rejection slip
after seven months, which is exactly what everyone had to do for hundreds
of years before e-mailed or electronic submissions.
4) It should be easy to send stuff in.
No, it should be more difficult. Itís too easy now and because itís
too easy, too many writers are sending too many submissions that shouldnít
be sent to Eyeshot or other sites, things that are wrong for Eyeshot and
surely for other sites, things that donít match whatís come before, whatís
been established, that often are just terrible, that reveal that people
in general seem like they're being too easy with their own stuff, typing
it up and sending it out everywhere, instead of typing it out, working
it, waiting, working it some more, and then taking the time to figure out
what would be the best home for that particular iteration of their stuff.
Also, itís like a Zen monastery, where if you want to gain admittance you
need to sit outside and wait and wait and be told over and over for days
and nights to go away and then finally after a week or so they let you
in. The postcard submission thing should limit the number of submissions
I read to only those by writers who would really like to contribute something
to the site, that have read it intermittently over the years or are just
discovering it now and think itís not the worst spot for their stuff.
5) Ask yourself what The New Yorker would do.
Yeah right, dad. I think what they do is something like this: they mostly
receive submissions from literary agents (that is, the stories that have
a chance of being read and possibly published) and otherwise have an e-mail
address to which one can submit stuff but probably no one's ever e-mailed
a story to the New Yorker and received an acceptance Ė youíre lucky enough
to receive a kind form-letter response after a few months. They probably
have interns quickly go through the electronic slush pile, rejecting everything.
Otherwise they receive the best work from top writers all over the world.
They also have deals with writers that give them the right of first refusal
for new stories Ė that is, writers who agree to this sort of deal are required
to send stuff to the New Yorker first and in exchange they get like $3
a word or so. Maybe more. Which can be mucho moolah considering the typical
story length the New Yorker runs. The New Yorker also tends to run a lot
of highly conventional international or immigrant fiction these days, something
that's never really floated ye olde Eyeshot airship. So, considering all
this and more, it's probably not a very good idea to ask myself anything
other than what Eyeshot would do.