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View Full Version : Should you mention even the smallest publishing cred?



Eli Hinze
04-11-2014, 02:47 AM
A flash fiction piece of mine was recently accepted for publication by the Sagebrush Review, a local literary journal. I was told by an agent that this counts as a publishing credential, which of course makes me happy. It's my first official credential ever!

However, the journal is extremely small and doesn't have much of a circulation. (They distribute via Amazon.) This has made me wonder if I should even list it on my query letters/cover letters.

Considering that this is my first official publishing credential, I'm sort of grasping at straws here for credentials, but I don't want it to look that way at the risk of coming across like a desperate greenhorn. (Even if I am, ha ha.)

Any and all help is very, very much appreciated.

Hanson
04-11-2014, 03:12 AM
Dear Agent, I got nuthin. Nada.

Dear Agent, I've been published in xxx xxx.


Hmmmm.


Toughy.

:Deta, unless it's self-pubbed, it's worth a mention, always.

Eli Hinze
04-11-2014, 03:22 AM
Dear Agent, I got nuthin. Nada.

Dear Agent, I've been published in xxx xxx.


Hmmmm.


Toughy.

:Deta, unless it's self-pubbed, it's worth a mention, always.

Good to know. I know it might seem like a silly question, but I'm still glad to know definitively. :)
Thank you!

Old Hack
04-11-2014, 12:13 PM
I assume you're asking if you should mention this publication in your query.

Unless it's in the same genre as the piece you're submitting then no, I wouldn't mention it as it has no relevance; and if it's in a publication the agent isn't going to be aware of because it's too small or niche then again, no, don't mention it.

Use your query to sell your work. You have a very limited number of words in your query: don't squander them listing publications like this. Focus instead on making the work you're querying look brilliant.

Once you have a lot of significant publications you can mention them: but otherwise, all good agents want to hear about is the book you're querying. That's what matters.

Hanson
04-11-2014, 01:11 PM
Yes, as above.

I meant as part of a bio, if bio's are part of the requested query process, not the opening line (though i presented it as such.) eg, went to x uni, did x, published in x and so forth. congrats again, seen the mag online, looks good.

Quickbread
04-11-2014, 04:18 PM
I would include it. I heard a big agent say once in a workshop, when asked something similar, that she liked to see pub credits from even tiny literary mags because it's very difficult to get published by journals and it shows her the writer is serious and working at it.

folkchick
04-11-2014, 07:12 PM
I'm with Quickbread, having your work accepted by a journal, big or small, is something to be proud of. The editors who run them are brilliant and they do not accept just any story. Recently I had an editor of an online journal work with me to streamline the ending of a larger piece. He was kind and professional. I have nothing but respect. And, hell yes, I'm mentioning the journal in my queries. Really, I think agents dislike it more when a writer mentions too many publications.

quicklime
04-11-2014, 07:28 PM
so, funny parallel: I'm a biologist. In grad school, publication is a critical piece of the process.....but where matters. So if you got an article into Science (good luck) or JBC, or even Biotechniques, by all means, you list that on your CV. If you have a bunch of publications in The Ukranian Journal of Renal Physiology, you do not.

Why? It's small, but a publication, no?

Because if your cites are all small no-names, or a lot are, it starts to raise the question of why you are publishing, but "poorly." In science, a publication is not a publication is not a publication.....circulation and prestige matter. No-names can actually count against you, as much and possibly more than a sparse record itself. Not every credit is a good credit, some count against you. in fact, I got my thesis with 1 primary author and three supporting author pubs, but all mid-tier journals; had I had seven first-author pubs in nowhere journals, I doubt they'd have let me out. Even more harsh, I'd have been judged as "unable to play with the real scientists" for it.


I really don't believe this is different. I haven't seen anything to suggest it is, anyway, and "you are judged by the company you keep" is a very old axiom that I suspect holds here as well.

I had a few places take my work way back when I subbed anywhere, webzines and stuff, that I will not list because I happen to believe they raise more (negative) questions than they answer. Flat-out, I intend to leave them, because I agree with Hack; a tight query works, and those shitty subs would actually dilute instead of enhance.

A querier with no credits is an unknown. All the agent has is your letter, so if it is strong it would be nice to know you've also written a best-selling novel, but hey, at least they see you can write tightly and have an interesting story. On the flip side if you have a really interesting story and a bunch of publications in places I know will "take anything" I am inclined to wonder why you keep throwing your work to the easy markets--is your work not good enough for bigger fish? are you too na´ve to know? is there some other "problem?"

Now, none of that says you should, or should not, in your particular case--I m unfamiliar with that journal. What is does say is the prestige of that journal matters, and you should decide based upon that. A bad credit, or even a meaningless one, can be worse than none (and none does not prevent publication). So figure out the value of your journal and go from there.

quicklime
04-11-2014, 07:36 PM
Dear Agent, I got nuthin. Nada.

Dear Agent, I've been published in xxx xxx.


Hmmmm.


Toughy.

:Deta, unless it's self-pubbed, it's worth a mention, always.



yeah.....not in my experience.

Good work shows. And can overcome a blank spot.

On the other hand, if they gotta scratch their heads and go "who the fuck is XXX?" or worse, they say "Wait, XXX? Snooki could get pubbed there, writing in crayon," you aren't actually doing yourself favors showing you aren't afraid to play at the bottom of the barrel......

MandyHubbard
04-11-2014, 07:46 PM
I'm with Old Hack. If you're writing fiction, pub credits aren't necessary anyway. They can be a nice bonus if they are legit and big name, but otherwise they're meaningless, and I sign authors all the time with zero credits.

Focus on the project.

Hanson
04-11-2014, 09:51 PM
yeah.....not in my experience.

Good work shows. And can overcome a blank spot.

On the other hand, if they gotta scratch their heads and go "who the fuck is XXX?" or worse, they say "Wait, XXX? Snooki could get pubbed there, writing in crayon," you aren't actually doing yourself favors showing you aren't afraid to play at the bottom of the barrel......
Hey, let's leave Snooki outta dis, ok? :D

Like everything, it depends on context.

I'm assuming the subbed piece is in line with Eli's published work.

And yes, the subbed piece is the main event.

But not to include a pubbed credit in a bio? (assuming it's not The Daily Fascist, or How to Grow your Own Jumper etc) - especially if it's all you got? I say do so.

But of course, it's a individual choice. Would an agent think less of you? (Jumper/ Fascist excluding)
I'd be surprised.

quicklime
04-11-2014, 10:21 PM
...But not to include a pubbed credit in a bio? (assuming it's not The Daily Fascist, or How to Grow your Own Jumper etc) - especially if it's all you got? I say do so.

....


fair enough, but you say so why, exactly?

it is all good and well from a warm and fuzzy standpoint to say "it's a credit, man...it says you tried," but I've seen a couple other places where agents and others have actually said there is such a thing as a bad credit (I assume they meant outside of "Fascist Monthly" and believe one of them was Lukeman), there is an agent AND an editor (I believe that's what Hack does) suggesting to leave it out in this very thread, and the notion matches my experience and inclinations from other fields as well.

ymmv but I think there are credits that at best waste space (already something I try not to do while showing I can write tightly) and at worst count as an indicator that your prior publishing experience has been playing in a pool that agent considers unpublishable. Since no credits isn't something I believe hurts, I see no reason to chance making some pain of my own saying "I pubbed here!" if Here is distinctly underwhelming.

Hanson
04-11-2014, 10:49 PM
fair enough, but you say so why, exactly?

it is all good and well from a warm and fuzzy standpoint to say "it's a credit, man...it says you tried," but I've seen a couple other places where agents and others have actually said there is such a thing as a bad credit (I assume they meant outside of "Fascist Monthly" and believe one of them was Lukeman), there is an agent AND an editor (I believe that's what Hack does) suggesting to leave it out in this very thread, and the notion matches my experience and inclinations from other fields as well.

ymmv but I think there are credits that at best waste space (already something I try not to do while showing I can write tightly) and at worst count as an indicator that your prior publishing experience has been playing in a pool that agent considers unpublishable. Since no credits isn't something I believe hurts, I see no reason to chance making some pain of my own saying "I pubbed here!" if Here is distinctly underwhelming.
I suppose 'there's the rub'.

for sure, if it's your daughter 'Big Book of Daddy's Ramblings' scrapbook - leave it out.

I'm assuming a bit of common sense re the OP, but as she posted elsewhere beforehand re the pubbed work, I was aware it was legit (Uni publications are where a lot of the biggies started - even me!)

Still, we go on, as the fella says.


ps, I dont use the term 'man', man. No wait. I do.

folkchick
04-11-2014, 10:56 PM
I understand not mentioning a small pub credit, I really do, however it feels a bit dysfunctional to me to think along the lines of, it's not big enough, it's not good enough. I worked at a restaurant when I was 18 and the owner would always say, "Yesterday's hot tea is today's cold tea." Kind of gross, I know, but it's all relative. The editors of small pubs know the editors of big pubs. They meet at AWP, tweet each other, respect each other. They all work extremely hard and they all want great work. In the end it's about what you feel comfortable putting on your query. Some agents will be impressed, some won't. I still feel like, hey, this pub was awesome, I'm going to stick their name here because they are that cool.

cornflake
04-11-2014, 11:02 PM
Hey, let's leave Snooki outta dis, ok? :D

Like everything, it depends on context.

I'm assuming the subbed piece is in line with Eli's published work.

And yes, the subbed piece is the main event.

But not to include a pubbed credit in a bio? (assuming it's not The Daily Fascist, or How to Grow your Own Jumper etc) - especially if it's all you got? I say do so.

But of course, it's a individual choice. Would an agent think less of you? (Jumper/ Fascist excluding)
I'd be surprised.

How is an agent to know the works are similar? I'm with the snake - I see too much potential downside and no particular upside.

It's not huge downside, but as OH says, why waste words on 'and I was published in Journal No One Has Heard Of.' It can come off desperate, imo, or sad. Why give anyone room to think 'whatever the heck that is...' or google it and see it's only on Amazon and think ill or it or something similar, for one credit in a journal no one has likely heard of? Why not just leave it off? What does it gain, given it's a journal etc.? It's not as if that'd be a persuasive credit.

Little Ming
04-12-2014, 12:27 AM
But not to include a pubbed credit in a bio? (assuming it's not The Daily Fascist, or How to Grow your Own Jumper etc) - especially if it's all you got? I say do so.

Sorry, but I agree with the majority on this. Sometimes "nothing" is better than "this is all I've got," especially if all you got needs to be googled to know what it is.

I'll also note that there is an agent and an editor responding in this thread and they also don't think it's necessary to include "all you've got." ;)



But of course, it's a individual choice. Would an agent think less of you? (Jumper/ Fascist excluding)
I'd be surprised.

It's not so much "thinking less" of the writer, as a query letter is already a very small space to convince an agent they should keep reading to the MS (and hopefully sign you). Do I really want to waste another sentence telling them I've been published in something they've never heard of and need to google to find out I'm not lying out my ass?* It's a wasted line, IMO.

*Not directed at the OP or anyone specific, just a general thought. :)

Old Hack
04-12-2014, 01:18 AM
(I believe that's what Hack does)

Yep: non-fiction editing. But I'm freelance these days.


ymmv but I think there are credits that at best waste space (already something I try not to do while showing I can write tightly) and at worst count as an indicator that your prior publishing experience has been playing in a pool that agent considers unpublishable. Since no credits isn't something I believe hurts, I see no reason to chance making some pain of my own saying "I pubbed here!" if Here is distinctly underwhelming.

The only publishing credits I took notice of when I was in the position to sign books up were those which were pertinent to the book under submission, and which indicated that the author might have a platform from which to sell that book. So, credits which were in the same field as the book; and which had a relatively large audience.

Publication in a magazine with no distribution? I'm afraid it's just not relevant. Don't waste space in your proposal telling me this: use every word to sell me your book.


It's not huge downside, but as OH says, why waste words on 'and I was published in Journal No One Has Heard Of.' It can come off desperate, imo, or sad. Why give anyone room to think 'whatever the heck that is...' or google it and see it's only on Amazon and think ill or it or something similar, for one credit in a journal no one has likely heard of? Why not just leave it off? What does it gain, given it's a journal etc.? It's not as if that'd be a persuasive credit.

This.

Eli Hinze
04-12-2014, 02:24 AM
Thank you all for your input. It means a lot to me to hear everyone's insight, and I really appreciate it. I'll consider very carefully whether or not I'll list it on query/cover letters.
Again, thanks~

Old Hack
04-12-2014, 11:09 AM
Good luck, Eli.

I just wanted to add that when I wrote, "Publication in a magazine with no distribution? I'm afraid it's just not relevant" I wasn't referring to your publication, or trying to dismiss it as irrelevant or insignificant: I was just making a point. I think it's great that you've placed a piece of your work, and hope that you place many more.

Hanson
04-12-2014, 02:19 PM
Thank you all for your input. It means a lot to me to hear everyone's insight, and I really appreciate it. I'll consider very carefully whether or not I'll list it on query/cover letters.
Again, thanks~
lol. hope you're not put off by all these different opinions.

I suppose the central question is 'Will mentioning my pubbed piece aid my primary objective' whatever that might be.

best of luck, and keep subbing!