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Those Timid Bourgeois Readers Probably Just Hate My Anarchist Politics

Cady Vishniac, a reader and copy editor for Raleigh Review (among the many other hats she wears), has a two-part series up at The MFA Years that should be required reading for anyone looking to land your poetry or prose in a lit mag.

In Part One, Cady “clears up some misconceptions about submissions,” including:

  • Nobody gets published without an MFA.
  • The readers probably didn’t even look at the whole thing.
  • That magazine turned me down in 2014. They must hate me.
  • I’m not really good enough to submit to top-tier magazines.
  • I posted my story to my personal blog or webpage.
  • Those timid bourgeois readers probably just hated my bold anarchist political statement.
  • This magazine is taking too long to get back to me.
  • They keep spamming me after I submit.

The takeaway?

Remember that readers are not the enemy. Litmags are not the enemy. I want to help you. I want to love your work. I want, sometimes desperately, to say yes.

In Part Two, Cady divulges her personal “dealbreakers,” some of the reasons she typically decides to reject a story. From story types (she really hates “revenge” stories, or thinly veiled pieces of therapeutic writing) to the many things you’ve heard time and time again will sink your submissions: clich├Ęs, poor technical skills, unnecessary exposition, and yes, writing that closely resembles porn.

Don’t let our bullet-points do all the work: both Parts One and Two are excellent reading in full, as Cady expounds on each subject and offers advice for making sure the editors can’t say no.