This first appeared in We Who Are About to Die on October 28, 2010. It is no longer online, so I'm reposting here with some slight edits. I wrote it when I was actively the publisher and editor of No Tell Books, but my opinion remains unchanged. After you take my golden advice, please submit your reviews to Queen Mob's Teahouse.
Hello there fellow (m)other(f)ucking ho(a)rd(s), life has been rough on you lately, hasn’t it? All those people blaming you for what’s wrong with literature, writing and publishing, in some cases even questioning your basic human right to exist. That shit is totally bananas. I want to let you know that I tolerate your teeming asses, all ten billion of you scourge-ridden motherfuckers. Not only do I tolerate, I want you to succeed. So I offer you these two pieces of advice. Consider this the key to that “VIP” party at AWhatever.
1. Review books. Review literary publications. Interview authors. Write about contemporary literature.
Why? What’s in it for you? Well, first off, it’s how you become knowledgeable of who’s doing what and where. This information will help you navigate the cruel cruel seas when it comes to finding places for your own work. You’ll have a better idea of who out there is doing work similar or directly opposed to what you’re doing. And how it’s being done. You’ll get a sense of where might be receptive to what you’re doing and where likely will not. In short, you won’t come off like a clueless fuckwit. Second, there’s a desperate need for things like book reviews. Do you know difficult it is to get a single considered review of a book? I find this amazing. There are ten billion of you motherfuckers, why aren’t more of you writing reviews? Who do you think is going to write about your book when it comes out? Here’s a typical conversation I have as a publisher trying to get reviews for my press’ books:
Me: Hey, how about I send you a copy of this fab book and you can review it.
Motherfucker: I have a stack of over 100 books for review consideration and that’s just what I received this month. I don’t think I’ll be able to get to yours. You’ll have to find someone else.
Me: I already tried, you’re the last motherfucker alive writing book reviews!
Writing reviews ingratiates you with other writers and publishers. Whatever direction your review takes it’s win-win! Positive reviews are appreciated by the writer and publisher. Negative reviews are relished with immeasurable glee by the writer’s and publisher’s numerous enemies and former (m)other(f)ucking ho(a)rd classmates and students. There’s this one motherfucker who frequently writes half-baked, snarky pieces and you should read his Facebook wall! It’s all “I heart you, man” and “Good job sticking it to Sharon Olds’ tampon!” Words are powerful and carry a great deal of influence. Think how powerful and influential you could become if you wrote thoughtful literary commentary.
2. Buy and read contemporary books. Subscribe to literary journals.
So you have a thesis that’s been deemed to be of “publishable” quality. Don’t we all! Or to be more precise, ten billion of us have a manuscript officially deemed publishable. All we have to do now is find somebody to publish it. Who are these people who publish books? Where do they come from? Well, in much of independent/small publishing it’s other motherfuckers, like you, just a little further down along the path. In some cases it’s just a step or two. Let me tell you, most of these motherfuckers have limited funds, even those few who are fortunate enough to have grants or university support. As it turns out, these motherfuckers often publish books and very few of you motherfuckers buy them, but a whole bunch of you send your manuscripts of publishable quality to them. So a while back those motherfuckers got wise and figured out that while they don’t do so well selling books, they can do quite well selling hope and they can multiply that times the “self-absorbed, too lazy to research the press that I’m submitting” tax and hooray, it’s a contest fee and now these presses and magazines can stay in business. The contest fee costs 2-4 times as much as a book and the press gets to clear all the money for its expenses, instead of having to share profits with retailers and distributors. And now the “experimental” press is thrilled to receive your traditional sonnet sequence on Persephone because that’s $25 for a manuscript they don’t have to spend more than 60 seconds reading.
If most of you motherfuckers bought (or requested for your library to order) 1 or 2 books a month and a handful of literary magazines, publishers would be able to afford to publish more books and issues–meaning more opportunities for you. And even if you did send your manuscripts into contests, at least you’d have an idea which ones would give your manuscript a fair reading. You’d save a lot of $$ and have an enviable library guaranteed to impress the chicks/chucks with your literary seriousness.
I can’t guarantee that this advice will get you published or bring you riches and fame (don’t be a stupid bitch), but I do promise that it’ll put you in a better position to attain it.
Editor's Note: .... my name is Rauan Klassnik and I approve this message