Saturday, July 19, 2008

Blood Orange in Port Townsend

Yesterday, I had the chance to represent Blood Orange Review on a panel about literary journals at the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference . At the table were editors from Concrete Wolf Press, Crab Creek Review, Tidepools , Bellingham Review, and Willow Springs.

We each had the opportunity to introduce our journal and talk about what goes behind the scenes once a submission leaves the writer’s hands. While the other journals had online components, Blood Orange Review was the sole example of an online-only journal. I took some time to talk about the benefits of publishing online, both for writer and editor:

1) Accessibility – Not only can readers access the journal free from anywhere in the world (provided they have a keyboard and an internet connection), but contributors can develop an online presence for their work which can be distributed easily.

2) Affordability – Some writers don’t realize that most editors, even editors of glossy print journals, are not paid for their work. Blood Orange Review is a completely volunteer effort, a labor of love funded by the shallow pockets of writers just like you. Fortunately, the overhead for an online journal is minimal, and as a result an online journal is more sustainable financially. It’s also more affordable for writers to submit. No postage, no copies, no SASE.

3) ExposureWillow Springs has a print run of about 1,400. Crab Creek Review is somewhere around 400 per issue. Not every issue sells out, so there are a lot of back copies to contend with. In an online forum, issues continue to receive exposure beyond their publication dates. Readership is not limited by geography, distribution, or subscription.

I am, of course, not suggesting that you should submit to online journals instead of print publications. I do both, and I encourage you to do likewise. I love being able to hold a print journal in my hands and put in on my bookshelf. But I also love being able to easily forward a link of my online work to anyone who might be interested.

As for Blood Orange Review, here are a couple points to consider when submitting to us:

1) We’re selective – We reject about 90% of submissions we receive. We’ve published high-schoolers, and we’ve published established writers who have published multiple books. We’re opening to all literary work that shows concern for language and is artfully constructed. However, our decisions on what to publish are extremely subjective.

2) We promote writers – When we accept a work for publication, we’ll ask the writer for “fan club” contacts, a list of emails to which we’ll send a one-time announcement upon publication. We recognize that writers are not always good at self-promotion, so we take on some of the chore. And once you publish with us, we continue to support our writers by presenting opportunities to submit to themed issues and posting notices of awards and other publications here on our blog.

3) We’re respectful – One way Blood Orange Review demonstrates its respect for writers is by responding to submissions in a timely manner. Our guidelines say we respond within 8 weeks, but often it is much faster than that. Each submission receives three reviews by the three editors on staff. When we get together to discuss submissions, we argue for the ones we like, and we take our time trying to convince the other editors that a work is worth publishing. When we say your submission “provoked discussion” in our editorial meeting, we really mean it.

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