Longtime Condalmo aficionados (hi, Ma!) will recognize the above movie quote – maybe from the movie (hi, Johnny!), but certainly from the previous post with the same name. I’m using it again for a similar purpose.
Dan Wickett called the following Blake Butler post to my attention. Read it below and if you’re interested by what you read, go to Dan’s post, as he follows up with his own take. My thoughts, sparse as they are, follow the Butler quote. Which is right here:
“(1) When you read something you like, in any form, write the author and tell them. You don’t have to gush or take forever. Just tell them you saw it, you read it, you liked it. It’s a supportive feeling. It’s better than not saying anything.
(2) Write reviews of books you like. Short review/long review, whatever. It’s not that hard. It takes a little work to think about it clearly, but what goes around comes around. You can’t expect to be recognized for your work if you aren’t recognizing others for their work. Open the doors.
(3) Interview writers. New writers or well known writers. You like somebody’s work a lot? Ask to do an interview with them. It doesn’t take a ton of effort. Write up some questions. Let them talk. Spread the word. Talk. Say. Get. Eat.
(4) If you have free time, start an online journal. Start a blog, a review, an anything. If you don’t know how I’ll help you. Say stuff. Mean what you say.
(5) If you have a journal already, respond faster. Pay attention to your inbox. When someone asks a question that feels dumb or unnecessary maybe, answer it anyway. Don’t be a fuck. Yeah, we’re all busy. Yeah, things take time. Work to take less time. It’s okay to move forward at a wicked pace. (And yes, as an editor, I too struggle to adhere to this advice, but I struggle at least, everyone struggles, but you can always struggle more. I am so tired of seeing journals with 200+ days response time, why do you even exist? Does it really take that long to like something? People should stop sending to these places. Seriously. Just stop sending.
Yeah I know the flood comes strong. Stand in the flood. (Me too.))
Seriously, Conjunctions/Ninth Letter/Subtropics: these 3 journals get just as much work coming in as anybody, and they all respond often in less than a month.
To everyone: Push the fucking envelope even harder than you do. Be an open node.
BE AN OPEN NODE.
I am amazed sometimes by people who want to be writers and yet seem to know little to nothing about even the more popular journals, who don’t read that actively, who don’t buy literary magazines hardly ever but send out their own work constantly, who don’t buy even their friends work, who etc etc. Then they want to turn around and call anyone with any stripe of ‘success’ a ‘secret handshake motherfucker’ or ‘in crowd’ or anything like that.
There are people who don’t even answer their emails when they get those ‘I like your work’ mails, which really blows my mind some. You’re just typing into a keyboard like the rest of us. Don’t be Richard Ford spitting on Colson Whitehead. Don’t be a turd person.
Getting involved is being involved, and if you aren’t actively promoting others, I don’t know why in hell you’d think anyone would ever want to read or support you.” (via Dan, and BB)
My two cents: I think items 1, 2, and 3 are pretty much essential if you operate a site about books. It just makes sense, unless you’re just fooling around. I think item 4 is worth a look if you read those sites but don’t have one of your own. (I’m looking at you, RiverRun employee!) And item 5 is good advice for people whose pages/journals see a lot of traffic. Here’s a visual representation of the traffic at my site:
… so you’re pretty much assured a speedy reply.