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Finding an agent to represent a short story collection is not easy. The reason most agents prefer to avoid short story collections is that they are difficult to sell to publishers - unless the author is already famous.

Before you submit your collection, I strongly recommend that you get as many stories as possible published in literary magazines. Having a track record will help, and prior publication will not harm your chances of getting a collection published. (However, you should avoid publishing in magazines that are online. If people can read your stories for free, why should they buy them?)

For where to publish short stories see:

297 Paying Markets for Short Stories, Poetry, Nonfiction

Speculative Fiction Magazines Accepting Submissions

18 Paying Markets for Humor 

And if you prefer to submit directly to a publisher read:

17 Publishers Accepting Unagented Short Story Collections

IMPORTANT: These twelve agents have listed Short Stories on their MSWL (manuscript wish list) profiles, however you should NEVER query an agent without checking the agency website first. Submission requirements change, and agents may close their lists, or switch agencies.
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Jennifer Kim (Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency)

A graduate from the University of California Irvine, Jennifer holds a B.A. in English Literature and Spanish Literature, and spent a year studying Spanish literature and culture at the University of Barcelona. She also works as a bookseller, having done so since 2012.
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Renée Zuckerbrot Literary Agency

Renée Zuckerbrot founded the agency after working as an editor at Doubleday and Franklin Square Press/Harper’s Magazine. She is a member of the AAR and Authors Guild. She serves on PEN’s Membership Committee, and is a Board member of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) and Slice Magazine. You can read an interview with Renée and her colleagues at Poets & Writers. See her top ten list of short stories at Storyville. 
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Waverly Place Literary Agency 

Seeking short story and poetry collections with popular appeal.
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Helen Boyle (Pickled Ink) (UK)

Helen Boyle has over fifteen years experience in the children’s publishing industry. She began her career at Hodder Children’s Books in the marketing and publicity department but quickly felt the draw of editorial and design. She has worked as a consultant, editor and reviewer for UK book and magazine publishers and has an extensive knowledge of the global children’s book market. She is seeking YA connected short stories. (A novel told as a series of short stories.)
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Chad Luibl (Janklow and Nesbit

I tend to lean more toward darker tales and gritty settings, culture-crossing perspectives, structures that are a bit experimental (see David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas), and always narratives with a strong emotional core. Having lived in Poland and Hungary, I have a niche-interest in books that feel Eastern European in voice/perspective (or explore post-Soviet and Cold War themes), and I find anything that deals with exile and expatriation immediately arresting.
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Jessica Sinsheimer (Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency)

I’m officially open to all genres. Whatever the age group, I tend to love contrast–highbrow sentences and lowbrow content, beautiful settings and ugly motives–the books that are beautiful and scary, heartbreaking and hilarious. I love secrets, scheming, revenge, plotting–and stories that have to be written forward and backward to make sense (I LOVE discovering a very cleverly planted clue that makes sense in retrospect).
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Katie Grimm (Don Congdon Associates)

Most generally, I focus on adult literary fiction, narrative non-fiction, middle grade, and young adult fiction.  Across all genres and ages, I’ll always be interested in the darker and weirder side of the human condition as well as previously under- or misrepresented experiences and voices.
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Kimberley Cameron (Kimberley Cameron & Associates)

I’ve enjoyed being an agent for 26 years, and love to find new voices. I love to lose myself in a story and to be transported to another reality, whether it be in the future, contemporary, or in the past. I am a complete francophile and have spent lots of time living in Paris and the South of France, and yes, I have sold lots of books from abroad, as I’m always working! I love to read.
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Laura Biagi (Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency Inc.)

Some things I’m especially interested in at the moment: Magical realism in the vein of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a literary fiction journey story where the characters change as much as the landscape around them, absurdism a la George Saunders, anything reminiscent of Karen Russell, strong female edgy voices like Miranda July, a story with a gothic or magical realist twist set in Kentucky or the South, literary YA with Romani characters, and contemporary YA with characters following their passions and trying to figure out life as in Rainbow Rowell’s novels.
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Monica Odom (Bradford Literary)

Monica is most actively seeking adult projects, but is open to some YA and MG (especially if it is NF or illustrated). She holds the same criteria no matter the age group: original storytelling, incredible voice, compelling characters, and vivid, detailed setting. She also likes to see a strong sense of narrative tension. Monica is serious about the fact that We Need Diverse Books and is looking for authentic representation of all characters, diverse or otherwise
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Rachel Crawford (Wolf Literary)

I’m on the look out for literary and commercial fiction and YA. I’m drawn to stories that defy genre conventions and play with reader expectations, and I particularly enjoy dystopian fiction, eco-fiction, and apocalyptic narratives, as well as anything with a scientist protagonist. I love books that explore big ideas through compelling narrative.
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Sarah Yake (Frances Collin Literary Agency)

A quirky, interesting voice is my number one consideration. I love a touch of humor, whether overt or sly. My reading tastes are wide-ranging and my goal is to keep building a similarly diverse, multi-genre list.

 
 
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Authors and agents have what I would call an ambiguous relationship. It's not precisely love/hate, but it does involve a clash of expectations.

This clash is the inevitable result of a business mentality coming in close contact with artistic sensibilities. (That is, writers who are devoted to the craft or, more specifically, devoted to their own writing).

(I've previously written about that conflict at some length. See my astonishingly perceptive post: Literary Agents: The Writer's Ultimate Ambiguous Relationship.)

Launching into the publishing world can be a painfully enlightening experience for a writer. Not surprisingly, it can be equally as vexing for agents who may not realize that their clients are not only unprepared, but are quite confused as to what is expected of them. But in some cases, it is not merely confusion that causes problems. With increasing numbers of writers submitting their work, exacerbated by fierce competition for publishing slots, frustrations can arise, leading to complaints on both sides.

Here are some of them.

Ten things writers hate about agents

1) Agents who charge a fee, or who are really book doctors, but don't let you know until you have submitted your work. This is the most egregious of sins in the agent community. Fortunately, it is becoming relatively rare - but it still exists. If an agent charges a fee, especially after they have requested pages (and given you glowing compliments), do not pay them a cent, and run for the hills. NO LEGITIMATE AGENT CHARGES A READING FEE.

2) "No reply means no." The majority of agents no longer send rejections. They simply do not respond at all. In this age of automatic email replies there is no excuse for that kind of behavior. We all understand that agents are busy people, but we also expect them to be professionals. It is highly unprofessional to leave writers hanging.

3) Agents who ask for partials or fulls, and then either don't reply or send a canned response. This is something I personally really dislike. If an agent asks to see a manuscript, the writer will assume, rightly, that the agent has taken an interest. At this point, a lack of reply is somewhat like inviting a girl (or boy) to the prom and not showing up. It's not only rude, it's unconscionable.

4) Agents who say they want "great writing" but don't request sample pages along with your query. C'mon agents! Put your money where your mouth is! If you want great writing, then take a look at the first chapter! Every agent worth his or her salt knows that writers are piss poor at writing queries, so skip the query and spend  a few minutes on the first ten pages.

5) Agents who expect writers to compose copy. There is a huge difference between writing a novel and writing copy. A book is self-expression. Copy is what your boss hires you to churn out in order to sell his (or her) products. Agents cannot reasonably expect writers, especially fiction writers, to suddenly know the rules of advertising. That is a skill unto itself, and one in which writers are not trained.

6) Agents who promise the moon. Most agents won't take on your project unless they are "in love" with it. (To translate, "in love" means "I can sell this to a publisher and make money.") It is perfectly reasonable to expect enthusiasm from agents. What isn't reasonable is when agents tell you that your book is going to be a bestseller, that it will be a "breakout" novel, or that they are sure you will get a movie deal.

7) Agents who promise nothing. At the bare minimum an agent should be able to tell you what he or she can do for you. Agents should let you know what their contacts in the publishing industry are, what kind of track record they have, whether they have sold books like yours. They should have a game plan for selling your book. It goes without saying that they should be well acquainted with the terms of a contract, and should be willing to explain those terms to you.

8) Long, convoluted contracts that are filled with legalese. Back in the day, when there were no contracts between agents and authors, a simple handshake (verbal or physical) was enough. Now, there are lawyers. Contracts that are written by lawyers will always favor the agent for the simple reason that lawyers represent the people who pay them. Contracts written by lawyers can contain anything, including a promise on the part of the author to produce additional books (that happens), a promise to maintain a certain physical appearance (that also happens), and no termination clause. A fair contract should be no longer than a page or two, should state which book the agent is representing, and include a termination clause applying to both parties. It should specify how much the agent will take in commission, and how funds will be disbursed to the writer, as well as which services the agent will provide in clear language. (I highly recommend that writers join the Authors Guild. The Guild provides legal reviews of contracts to its members.)

9) Agents who, once they have decided to represent your work, do not maintain contact. It is the agent's job to market your book to publishers. Any decent agent will keep you apprised of how that quest is going. They will tell you which publishers they have approached and give you feedback. If they don't touch base with you on a regular basis, they are not doing their job.

10) Agents who drop their clients after a few attempts at selling a manuscript to a publisher. When the going gets tough, some agents are all too willing to simply drop their "difficult" client in favor of a manuscript that is easier to market, or which they perceive is easier to market. Shame on them.

Ten things agents hate about authors

1) Writers who do not research who they are querying. Nothing will turn an agent off faster than a query addressed to "Dear Agent." (Seriously, don't do that.) Make sure you are addressing your query to an individual agent, and that you have spelled the agent's name correctly. Also, make absolutely sure that you have gone to the agency's site and have read the bio of the agent you are querying.

2) Writers who do not follow instructions. This is such an easy thing to do; there is no excuse for not submitting your query exactly the way the agent has specified.

3) Bad spelling and grammar. Agents are not forgiving about error-ridden query letters. If you can't spell, or don't know the difference between "lay" and "lie" (my pet peeve), they will become irritated. It is not a good idea to irritate someone you are wooing.

4) Writers who do not know how to write a query letter. Writing a basic query is not rocket science. You need a short opening with your book's title, genre, and word count, a paragraph that summarizes your book, and a brief paragraph about your qualifications as a writer. Make it short and to the point. Don't waste the agent's time.

5) Authors who pester agents. Nothing ticks agents off more than clients who make repeated phone calls, text constantly, or email incessantly. An agent's job is to sell your book, not hold your hand.

6) Authors who do not disclose that they have submitted to publishers, or who have already self-published their work. Very few agents are willing to take on manuscripts that have been "shopped around." How can they be expected to pitch your work to editors who have already rejected your manuscript? And while some agents are willing accept work that has been self-published, read their submission requirements carefully to make sure that's allowed.

7) Writers who submit to more than one agent at the same agency. Do writers really expect agents who work together to compete with one another? Only submit to one agent at an agency. And if you get a rejection, make sure that agency allows subsequent submissions to other agents. (Some agencies share; a submission to one agent is a submission to them all.)

8) Writers who submit queries for fiction that is not completed. Novels have to be finished and fully edited before a query can be sent. It's disappointing for an agent to request a partial or a full, only to be told that the book is not finished. It is equally distressing for them to receive a rough draft. (Make sure your manuscript is as error-free as possible before you send it!)

9) Lack of professionalism. Writers who don't seem to be aware that the agent-client relationship is a business arrangement can be very annoying. What does being professional mean? First, a manuscript that follows standard manuscript guidelines (double spaced, Times New Roman or another standard font, etc.) is professional. Submitting your work promptly is also professional. Keeping appointments is professional. Remembering that the agent has a job, and is not available at all hours, is professional.

10) Writers who get angry when they receive a rejection, or get upset at an agent's suggestions for improvement. Not many agents offer a critique of work they've received. They simply don't have the time. But those who are willing to go the extra mile by offering feedback are performing a service. The proper response should be "Thank you," not a snarky reply, or a pissed-off blog post. The same holds true for rejections. If writers are upset by a rejection, they should keep it to themselves.

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To writers: For God's sake, learn to write a proper query letter! Query Shark is your best resource. There are also successful queries on Writer's Digest. And read my Best Method for Handling Rejections (and getting published). It will keep you sane.

To agents: For God's sake, learn to write a proper rejection letter! Please, oh please send us rejections. Don't leave us in limbo. We are human, and your silence makes us suffer. Also, if we are expected to know your name, do us the courtesy of not addressing rejections to "Dear Author."

 
 
These three agents are actively expanding their client lists. Damian McNicholl (Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency) is seeking fiction and nonfiction, including memoirs. Kortney Price (Holloway Literary) is looking for middle grade, young adult, and new adult fiction. Kaitlyn Johnson (Corvisiero Literary Agency) is interested in young adult, new adult, and adult fiction, especially fantasy.

IMPORTANT: You should NEVER query an agent without checking the agency website first. Submission requirements change, and agents may close their lists, or switch agencies.
Note: You can find a comprehensive list of new and established agents seeking clients here: Agents Seeking Clients

Happy submitting!
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Damian McNicholl of the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency

About Damian: Damian McNicholl grew up in Northern Ireland and moved to the US in the early nineties. A former attorney, he is also an author whose latest novel, THE MOMENT OF TRUTH, will be published by Pegasus Books in June 2017. His critically acclaimed novel A SON CALLED GABRIEL will be republished by Pegasus in Fall 2017. Damian regards himself as an agent who likes to edit and help polish a client’s work before submission.

He is Seeking: Great nonfiction and fiction that appeals to a wide audience and makes people think, laugh and sob. In fiction, his interests are compelling novels that hit the sweet spot between literary and commercial, historical and select offbeat/quirky. Nonfiction interests include memoir, biography, investigative journalism and current events, especially cultural, legal and LGBT issues that can help lead to meaningful change in society. To see the types of books he likes, please visit Damian’s agent page.

How to Submit: For fiction and memoir, please email a succinct query to damianmcnichollvarney@gmail.com with a subject line of QUERY. Include a short synopsis of the plot (think dust jacket copy), concise bio setting forth any publishing credits and the first 15 pages in the body of the email. For all other nonfiction, please attach a proposal as a Word document that includes the first chapter and your author platform.

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Kortney Price of Holloway Literary

About Kortney: Prior to joining Holloway Literary as a Literary Assistant, Kortney completed internships with Andrea Hurst & Associates, Amphorae Publishing Group, and Inklings Literary Agency. In 2014 she graduated with a B.A. in English from Greenville College. Kortney manages the agency website and is the editor of the Holloway Literary blog.

She is Seeking: Middle-grade fiction written in the vein of Gordon Korman, young adult thrillers similar to Lois Duncan, and contemporary new adult fiction.

How to Submit: Send a query and the first 15 pages pasted in the body of the e-mail to submissions [at] hollowayliterary.com. Your subject line should read “Kortney/[Title]/[Genre].”
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Kaitlyn Johnson of Corvisiero Literary Agency

About Kaitlyn: After receiving a BA in Writing, Publishing, and Literature from Emerson College, Kaitlyn refused to leave the concept of nightly homework behind. Centering her life around everything literary, she started her own freelance editing company, K. Johnson Editorial, as soon as her diploma came in the mail. Holding two years of literary magazine editing experience, Kaitlyn is proud to be on staff for the increasingly popular Muse and the Marketplace Conference held in Boston every April/May through GrubStreet. She currently works as both the Muse Conference Assistant and the Donor Communications Assistant at GrubStreet.

She is Seeking: Young Adult, New Adult, and Adult. Lots of fantasy (yes, that very much includes urban!), time travel, select dystopian, romance (erotic elements OK), and historical fiction if it is anything other than Henry VIII.
  • Contemporary with unique concept and good execution. No overplayed tropes/characters. Same goes for upper MG.
  • LGBT (as well as characters questioning their sexuality) welcome in all genres accepted above.
  • Fairytale retellings but ONLY if it’s from an unexpected POV
How to Submit: Please follow the submission guidelines on the “Submissions” page of Corvisiero Literary Agency and send to query@corvisieroagency.com with the subject title: “Query: Kaitlyn Johnson, [name of manuscript]”
  • Strong query
  • Five page sample
  • 1-2 page synopsis
Please do not e-mail unsolicited queries to her personal work e-mail. They will not be accepted. 

 
 
Here are two new agents seeking clients. Laura Crockett (TriadaUS) is interested in YA and adult fiction. Claire Roberts (Trident Media Group) is looking for all types of fiction as well as narrative nonfiction.

IMPORTANT: You should NEVER query an agent without checking the agency website first. Submission requirements change, and agents may close their lists, or switch agencies.

Note: You can find a comprehensive list of new and established agents seeking clients here: Agents Seeking Clients

Good luck!
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Laura Crockett of Triada US

What she is seeking: ​In YA, she is interested in contemporary realistic fiction (such as study abroad experiences, strong female friendships, falling in love, mental health, diversity, LGBTQ) and fantasy (particularly with excellent world-building, authentic characterization, fantasy inspired by fairytales and other cultures' mythology, and historical fantasy). Some favorite titles include Fangirl, The Lie Tree, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, All the Bright Places, Shadowfell, When We Collided, Anna and the French Kiss, A Shadow Bright and Burning,The Star-Touched Queen, and The Winner's Curse.

In adult fiction, she is interested in contemporary women's fiction (heartfelt, juicy moral dilemmas, historical bends with parallel narratives), humorous chick-lit (especially if it's millennial-driven), and fantasy (excellent world-building, authentic characterization, fantasy inspired by fairytales and other cultures' mythology, and historical fantasy). Some favorite titles include The Night Circus, Outlander, The Queen of Blood, Daughter of the Forest, The Winter Witch, The Hating Game, and authors like Jodi Picoult, Kate Morton, Gayle Forman, and Sophie Kinsella.

How to submit: When querying Laura, please include the first ten pages in the body of your email. She can be contacted at laura@triadaus.com.
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Claire Roberts of Trident Media Group

About Claire: Claire Roberts had a very successful career in publishing already, focusing on selling rights internationally for authors both at publishing houses and most recently at Trident Media Group, where she was the head of the Foreign Rights department and had worked on the global careers of such authors as Marilynne Robinson, Marlon James, Justin Cronin and Paul Harding. She is now developing her own clients whose work she will handle in the US as well as internationally. Claire has an MFA from the University of Michigan. She is looking for writing that’s fresh, immediate, and character-driven, and above all, writing that stays with you.

She is seeking: She loves many types of fiction, and of course, in view of her MFA in literary fiction, she finds that genre very appealing. “In fiction I am most interested in upmarket/mainstream to literary fiction and upmarket to literary crime fiction.” She also seeks narrative nonfiction. Claire says that “the books that do best in the international markets are those that tell great stories, with the kind of writing that stays with you after the book has been put down. And the authors of those kind of books, are exactly who I am looking to work with and represent in the United States.”

How to submit: Use Trident’s online submissions form here.

 
 
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One of the appeals of self-publishing is that there is no waiting time. In traditional publishing, there is a lag, sometimes of a year or more, between the publisher's receipt of a manuscript and its publication.

Historically, authors have railed against this lag for two reasons: 1) They are impatient to see their books on the shelf, and 2) They are worried that in some cases, the book may never be published at all.

The second of these reasons for objecting to a delay in publication is legitimate. If the publication date is not specified in the contract (e.g. manuscript will be published within one year of acceptance), there is always the chance that due to various unforeseen events affecting the publishing house, your book may never make it into print.

The first reason, impatience, is not a good reason to object to a delay, but it is the main reason many writers opt to self-publish. Once they finish a novel, they want to see it in print as soon as possible.

Why immediate publication is a bad idea

One of the reasons traditional publishers delay publication is that in addition to the months required to edit a book, it takes between four and six months to market a book. ARCs must be sent to reviewers, pre-orders must be set up, outlets must be notified. If these steps are not taken in advance, there will be no pre-release buzz. And without pre-release buzz, the proverbial tree will fall in the forest, and it will not make a sound.

This is not to say you can't promote a book after it has been released. You can, and you should. But if you don't create a demand for your book ahead of its release, chances are very few people will buy it. Demand is the fundamental basis of selling anything - be it a new car, a new shoe style, a new book, or a new president. Create a demand, and there will be a market for your product.

If you publish immediately after you finish editing, you will have no demand and no market, which means you are virtually guaranteed a lack of sales.

What to do before publication

First, make a list of book reviewers for your genre. Also make a list of bloggers who do interviews, and make a list of those who do cover reveals. (Many book bloggers do all three.) You should have several hundred reviewers when you are finished. This will take some time, so start now.

While you are making those lists, research popular publications - online magazines and general interest sites - relating to your genre or to the subject of your book. Make a list of those that accept advertising, or which will post your book as a new release. Start making the list now. (You can use Alexa to measure the traffic to a publication's website.)

Build your twitter following. Do not use a service. You need real followers, not a bunch of people who don't care about what you are tweeting. Do this at least a year before the launch of your book.

Make sure you have a Facebook page, a blog, and a website up and running at least a year before you launch your book.

As soon as you have a cover, make a banner. Write your back page blurb, and ask for endorsements.

Six months before your launch send review requests to every reviewer on your list. At the same time, send review requests to your list of popular publications and websites, especially those which charge a fee, (Those tend to get booked up quickly.)

Three months before your release upload your book for pre-ordering on Amazon. (If you are using Smashwords, they also provide a pre-order service.) Sign up for blog tours.

As soon as you have an ARC, submit your book to every self-publishing book contest.

Schedule talks, book signings, and author events to coincide with your release date.

Plan a book release party, and advertise it. Have fun! (And make sure everyone at the party gets on your mailing list.)

Do all of the above - patiently, methodically -  and your book will be a success.


Useful articles:

List of Online Reviewers Who Accept Self-Published Books

Everything I did wrong: Self-Publishing

Arranging Your Own Book Tour

10 Tips for How to Throw a Successful Book Launch Party

10 Ways to Find Your Ideal Audience on Twitter (For Writers)

The Skinny on Virtual Book Tours

You can find many more useful articles on self-publishing and book marketing here.

 
 
I enjoy reading bad reviews of great novels — almost as much as I enjoy getting them. (See what I did there?) It comforts me to know that if a book of mine is called “lugubrious,” I will be keeping company with Aldous Huxley. (Unlike Brave New World, not one of my books has been called “lugubrious,” or even “nauseating,” but this is probably due to an avoidance of polysyllabic adjectives on the part of contemporary reviewers.)

These books were panned primarily because they broke new ground. Innovative writing and unconventional concepts are rarely well received in the short run. (Also honest portrayals of sex, war, racism and other social ills are generally shunned, at least initially.) However, in the long run, these books have stood the test of time, and are now considered classics.

All of these books are on the 100 Best Novels Written in English list.
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The Great Gatsby

Although The Great Gatsby earned F. Scott Fitzgerald a mere $13.13 in royalties, The Great Gatsby has been widely hailed as “The Great American Novel.” It was panned by H. L. Mencken in the Chicago Tribune as “no more than a glorified anecdote, and not too probable at that.” Mencken went on to say that the story was “unimportant” and that aside from Gatsby, the characters were “marionettes.”

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Brave New World

Aldous Huxley’s biting vision of the future (now officially the present) has become an iconic dystopian novel. Huxley brought us Fordism, The World State, and Soma. When it was published in 1932, the book was not well received. H.G. Wells, regarded as the father of science fiction, wrote that “A writer of the standing of Aldous Huxley has no right to betray the future as he did in that book.” Wyndham Lewis called it “an unforgivable offence to Progress.” Equally disgusted by Huxley’s portrayal of a world controlled by a global capitalist economy, Gerald Bullett concluded that “As prophecy it is merely fantastic.” And not to be bested by other critics,New York Herald Tribune called Brave New World “A lugubrious and heavy-handed piece of propaganda.”

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Invisible Man

Ralph Ellison’s powerful novel about the experience of black Americans won the National Book Award in 1953, and has since been eulogized as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. Nevertheless,Atlantic Monthly thought it suffered from “occasional overwriting, stretches of fuzzy thinking, and a tendency to waver, confusingly, between realism and surrealism.”

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Catch-22

War is pointless, and nobody portrayed that better than Joseph Heller, whose satire, Catch-22,has become so much a part of our national culture that it appears as a lexical item in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. The book was rejected by publishers as “really not funny on any intellectual level.” When it was finally released, The New Yorker had nothing good to say about it. It “doesn’t even seem to be written; instead, it gives the impression of having been shouted onto paper … what remains is a debris of sour jokes”. The New York Times called it “repetitive and monotonous…none of its many interesting characters and actions is given enough play to become a controlling interest.”

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Lolita

No list of chilly receptions would be complete without Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita.

Publishers, who found Lolita“overwhelmingly nauseating,” recommended that it be “buried under a stone for a thousand years.” Its reception upon publication was not much better.

The New York Times pronounced it “not worth any adult reader’s attention … dull, dull, dull … repulsive” and nothing more than “highbrow pornography.”

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Lord of the Flies

We’ve all read Lord of the Flies because it has been included in High School English curricula for more than 40 years. (I read it in High School, and I taught it when I became a High School teacher.)

William Golding’s indictment of war (that’s what this book is about) has certainly stood the test of time.

Lord of the Flies, rejected by publishers as “an absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull,” received a less-than-glowing reception from The New Yorker, which found it “completely unpleasant.”

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Tropic of Cancer

Arthur Miller’s candid look at sexuality had to be published in France, because it was too risque for the American market. The United States Customs Service even banned the book from being imported into the U.S.

When Grove Press finally published the book nearly 30 years later, over 60 obscenity lawsuits in over 21 states were brought against booksellers that sold it. Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Musmanno wrote that it was “not a book. It is a cesspool, an open sewer, a pit of putrefaction, a slimy gathering of all that is rotten in the debris of human depravity.” In kinder and gentler terms, Time magazine described Miller as “a gadfly with delusions of grandeur.”

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The Sun Also Rises

Ernest Hemingway’s novel about the Lost Generation was initially rejected by publishers as “tedious and offensive.” But the harshest criticism came from his mother, who wrote: “What is the matter? Have you ceased to be interested in loyalty, nobility, honor and fineness in life … surely you have other words in your vocabulary besides ‘damn’ and ‘bitch’ — Every page fills me with a sick loathing — if I should pick up a book by any other writer with such words in it, I should read no more — but pitch it in the fire.”

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Native Son

Richard Wright’s book about a young African-American man living in utter poverty on Chicago’s South Side in the 1930s was an instant bestseller. In keeping with other books that realistically treat uncomfortable social themes, it has been banned numerous times from schools and libraries. Despite its popularity,Native Son was not universally well received. New Statesman found the book to be “unimpressive and silly, not even as much fun as a thriller.”

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An American Tragedy

Theodore Dreiser’s fictionalized account of a notorious 1906 murder has been adapted for theater, screen, radio, opera, and has even been transformed into a musical. When the novel was first published in 1925, it met with the disapproval of the Boston Evening Telegraph, which called its main character, Clyde Griffiths, “one of the most despicable creations of humanity that ever emerged from a novelist’s brain.” Dreiser came under attack as an author whose style was “offensively colloquial, commonplace and vulgar.”

 
 
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There are  nearly three dozen calls for submissions in April. Every genre and every form is welcome! All are paying markets. (There are no fees to submit.)

Many of these journals have recurring calls for submissions, so if you miss this window, you can always submit during the next reading period.

For more literary journals seeking submissions and to get a jump on next month's open calls see: Paying Markets.
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West BranchGenres: Poetry, fiction, CNF. Payment: $50 per poem, 5 cents per word for prose.  Deadline: April 1, 2017.

Monstering: Disabled Women And Nonbinary PeopleCelebrating MonsterhoodGenre: Short stories. " Do you see yourself in the hulking creatures of legend? The warped beings of myth? If you’re disabled and identify as either female or nonbinary, we encourage you to submit." Payment: $10. Deadline: April 1, 2017.

Bright Wall/Dark RoomGenre: Nonfiction. Essays, humor, interviews about film. Theme is "Childhood." Payment: $25. Deadline: April 1, 2017.

ShooterGenre: Poetry, fiction and CNF on the theme of Bad Girls. "As always, the theme is open to interpretation, but think antiheroines, villainesses, and convention-defying women. Intelligent treatment of the theme is required: we want refined writing and complex, not cartoon, characters." Payment: £25 per story and £5 per poem. Deadline: April 2, 2017.

The Deaf Poets SocietyGenre: Poetry, prose, cross-genre work, reviews. Theme is "Crips In Space: Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Futurism." Crip futurism is a growing body of interdisciplinary studies. "We are looking for D/deaf and disabled perspectives and re-imaginings of bodies, science, technology, bioethics, and the future ways of existing." Payment: Revenue sharing. Deadline: April 4, 2017.

UnCommon LandsGenre: Short story. Publication tends toward magical realism. "We are seeking stories of  unusual spaces, places and landscapes." Payment: Revenue sharing. Deadline: April 5, 2017.

SplicketyGenre: Stories on theme of Medieval Mayhem. No speculative fiction. 1000 words max. Payment: 2 cents/word. Deadline: April 7, 2017. Read guidelines HERE.

Blyant PublishingGenre: Short story on theme of Beginning. Payment: £10 - £25 depending on length of story. Deadline: April 10, 2017.

Confrontation MagazineGenres: Fiction, poetry, non-fiction (worldwide). Payment: $175-$250 for fiction, $75-$100 per work for poetry. Deadline: April 15, 2017.

RattleGenre: Poetry. Theme is "Rust Belt Poets." Payment: $100 print edition, $50 online. Deadline: April 15, 2017.

Spirit's TinctureGenre: Speculative flash fiction and poetry. Theme is "Resistance." Payment: 6 cents/word. Deadline: April 15, 2017.

18th WallGenre: Speculative fiction for Their Coats All Red anthology. "These must be tales which capture the feel of the high Victorian era. We don’t want stories of the Empire itself—we want stories of the weirdness underneath. Ghosts, spirits, madness and monstrosities are all welcome." Payment: Revenue sharing. Deadline: April 15, 2017.

BlackbirdGenres: Poetry, fiction, CNF, drama. Payment: Not specified. Deadline: April 15, 2017.

HeliosGenres: Fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and art on theme of Redux and Progression. Payment: Rates vary depending on length. Deadline: April 15, 2017.

Copper NickelGenres: poetry, fiction, essays, and translation. Payment: $30 per printed page. Deadline: April 15, 2017.

Third FlatironGenre: Speculative satire. Theme is "Cat's Breakfast." Payment: 6 cents/word.  Deadline: April 15, 2017.

HippocampusGenre: Creative nonfiction for anthology about the golden age of radio. Payment: $50/story. Deadline: April 15, 2017.

Griffith Review 57: Perils of PopulismGenres: Poetry, prose, CNF. "We are seeking writers keen to explore with originality and insight the sources and perils of contemporary populism: economic, social, educational, media, political, religious and even language – the human and social dimensions up close and personal." Payment: Rates vary depending on length. Deadline: April 21, 2017.

CricketGenres: YA poetry, fiction, essays on the theme of Aliens. CICADA is a YA lit/comics magazine fascinated with the lyric and strange and committed to work that speaks to teens’ truths. Payment: Fiction: up to 10¢ per word, Nonfiction: up to 25¢ per word, Poems: up to $3.00 per line; $25.00 minimum. Deadline: April 27, 2017.

Spider MagazineGenres: Stories, poems article for children on theme of Folktales, Myths, and Legends, Payment: Stories and articles: up to 25¢ per word, Poems: up to $3.00 per line; $25.00 minimum, Activities and recipes: $75.00 flat rate. Deadline: April 27, 2017.

Southern Indiana ReviewGenres: Fiction, CNF, poetry. Payment: $50-$100 per piece. Deadline: April 30, 2017.

FIYAHGenre: Speculative fiction and poetry about Africa Diaspora. Theme is "Sundown Towns." Payment: $150 per story. $50 per poem. $300 per novelette. Deadline: April 30, 2017.

Red SunGenre: Speculative fiction. Payment: $150 per story. Deadline: April 30, 2017.

PseudopodGenre: Horror. Audio format. Payment: 6 cents per word. Deadline: April 30, 2017. Reprints accepted.

Afrocentric BooksGenre: Mythical fantasy. "Magic, gods, mysticism, mythical creatures. Bring us old fairy tales with an Afrocentric twist. We are interested in new gods or ancient ones, old religions, houngans, potions, and spells." Payment:1 cent/word. Deadline: April 30, 2017.

Hashtag QueerGenres: Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, scripts, and visual art. "We are seeking short creative work by queer-identified writers and artists &/or on queer themes." Payment: $5/page. Deadline: April 30, 2017.

Snafu: Judgement DayGenre: Speculative fiction. "What we want: Invading space aliens, demonic invasion as in Doom, DNA-grafted dinosaurs taking over the planet, manmade viral infections that nearly wipe out humanity, or artificial intelligence like in Terminator… anything you can think of that would bring about the end of the world. And SOLDIERS! Tell us about what happens during the worst of the fall of humanity or afterwards. No zombies. That’s already taken care of." 2000-10,000 words. Payment: AUD4c/word and one contributor copy. Deadline: April 30, 2017.

Midnight WritersGenre: Stories of every genre on theme "Last Shot Fired." Imagine a war going so long that every last resource has been used up in the fight for survival, or a world that has taken extreme measures to end warfare and violence. This could be about a spouse that has finally reached their breaking point and said that one thing that cascades the relationship into total chaos, or being against the wall against overwhelming odds with almost no resources or backup, what imagery is brought to your mind by this phrase?" Payment: $10. Deadline: April 30, 2017.

Tesseracts Twenty-oneRestrictions: Canadians only. Genre: Speculative fiction and poetry on the theme of Optimism. Payment: Short poetry is $20.00. Payment for short stories is prorated as follows: $50 for stories up to 1,500 words, rising to a maximum of $150 for stories up to 5,000 words. Deadline: April 30, 2017.


Weirdbook MagazineGenre: Weird fiction and poetry on the theme of Witches. Payment: $5 per thousand words. Deadline: April 30, 2017.

The QuilliadGenres: Poetry, flash fiction (500 words or less), and short stories (generally 1000-2000 words). Payment: $13. Deadline: April 30, 2017. (?)

FIELDGenre: Poetry. Send 2-6 poems at a time, combined into a single document, starting each poem on a new page. Payment: $15 per page. Deadline: April 30, 2017. (?)

 

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