Monday, April 6, 2009

Nepotism Defined:


I'm in the process of reading short stories for the Million Writers Award. I stumbled upon the following story which was published last year. For those of you who are not familiar with Narrative Magazine they're something of a heavy weight in the world of short stories. Their prize money is huge. They publish HUGE names and are rolling in the dough. They are also, well, jerks in my opinion. For a long time they only accepted submissions with a twenty dollar reading fee. What did you get for that reading fee? Not a damn thing. They would simply write you back months later and say that they rejected your story. They were part of the reason I decided to found Our Stories.

Anyway, back to my mini-rant. So I'm judging all these amazing stories and I get to this one: Superhero by Reese Kwon. Now, mind you I have NOT read the story and I'm sure there's talent there. Again, remember this is not about Kwon, this is about Narrative, and I just want to be clear on this. So, buried in the bio of the author is the following:

Kwon is an assistant editor at Narrative Magazine, and "Superhero" is her first published short story.
Are you kidding me? Not only is it wrong to publish a staff member in your journal because the ethical implications of not reading manuscripts blind and possibility that your personal relationship would interfere with your judgment but the fact that there was no previous publishing credits before this seems a red herring. I think that's what really pushes me over the edge here, I mean--sure--you guys run a big company with tons of money, engaging the community and you take money from struggling writers and don't give a damn about their submissions and you publish an unpublished staff member? Come on.

2 comments:

JenKnox said...

Are they hiring? (Kidding!)

Actually, I find this practice entirely unscrupulous. In fact, I want my twenty dollars back for that 2008 essay submission.

(Dear Narrative, I'll accept return payment in the form of Paypal, check, or money order)

BLAKE BUTLER said...

yep. fuck those people. i have been trying to make people aware of this obvious exploitation for a while now. thanks for posting and continuing to shout about it.