So the other night I’m culling submissions. I’m about halfway through this month’s subs and at that point, I’ve added about two things to my “to be considered” folder (everything else is a “no”). I take a break and check Bloglines and see this Miss Snark post: Pay vs unpaid mag markets.

My question is, if you are seeking an agent and all of your publishing credits are from non-paying “amateur” publications, does this impress an agent? Or do you look for publication in paying markets only?

I thought Miss Snark’s answer was excellent, in particular these two points:

I don’t pay much attention to the rate structure because I know a LOT of small literary journals that are labors of love don’t pay much besides copies of the mag and a pub credit.


Getting paid isn’t the point here. Having someone who is not your mom say your work doesn’t suck is what reassures me.

Yes! Exactly! How many times have I said this? The key to credibility and professionalism in writing is not money; it’s a proper editorial process.

But, of course, then there were doofy comments like this:

I have to disagree somewhat. Many submissions come to me yammering on about the millions of places the author’s been published, none of which I have EVER heard of: … If anything, this takes away from the credibility of the author, in my mind.

Give me a break. Just because you personally haven’t heard of a publication doesn’t mean it isn’t a good one. It would be impossible for any one person to have heard of every publication in the whole world.

But this was the comment that made me laugh out loud, considering what I was doing:

Seems to me that any never-heard-of online-only “publication” is not worth submitting to. There is little incentive for the online pub to turn anyone away (it’s essentially free to publish everything), and lots of incentive to have more and more and more on their site (think of google). … Of course, over time, the better ones stop being never-heard-of.

I ask: What incentive do I/we have to publish crap? I don’t want crappy writing associated with my name. I’d die of embarrassment. Besides, what would be the point? If your goal is maximizing Google hits, there are easier ways than running a literary journal.

No publication starts out as prestigious. Every publication was once unknown. It takes time to build a reputation. If every writer felt the way this one does (“Oh, I’m not going to submit there; I’ve never heard of it.”), no new publication would ever succeed.

Five years ago TC was a “never-heard-of online-only ‘publication’.”

From the beginning, we made our editorial policy clear: quality, not quantity. Writers took a chance on us. I remember vividly the first time something exceptional landed in our submissions box. Was this for us? Really? Wow! That was the moment I first felt that TC was going to be something special. Without those writers submitting to us in the early days, TC would have withered and died. Instead, it has flourished. I hope that the writers we have published are as proud of their TC credit as I have been to publish their work.