July 20, 2010

Unsolicited Manuscripts with a Catch

Via the Hayden's Ferry Review blog, I learned that Tin House is now accepting unsolicited manuscripts - however, only if those manuscripts are accompanied by a receipt for a hardcover or print book from a "real-life bookstore."

I've got mixed feelings about this one. Recently, I wrote about being opposed to magazines charging writers to submit poems electronically. I'm not big on forcing people to spend money to submit their work, and this is an example. However, I also think it's cool that Tin House is trying to increase patronage to brick-and-mortar bookstores and emphasize the importance that regular reading has on a writer's craft. On the other hand, given the fact that I'm underemployed, I know I frequent bookstores less frequently than I used to. Not that I'm not reading. I have a huge stack of books in my waiting-to-be-read pile. I have books on my shelves I've been meaning to re-read. I am a five-minute walk from a public library. I can still get plenty of quality reading done without needing to spend money in a bookstore.

The reason I'm not automatically condemning Tin House for requiring that authors spend money to submit work is because I like the intent behind what they're doing. I still haven't made up my mind whether I'm in favor of it one way or another, and parts of it don't sit right with me, but I do believe that Tin House has good intentions here, and I applaud that.

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