You want to submit to Tin House (Books or Magazine), you gotta buy a book and send them your receipt. I’m not too upset about this, frankly. I buy books all the time, usually once a week and usually in a bookstore. This won’t be hardship for me. In fact, I’ve offered to sell receipts (or scanned copies thereof) to people who desperately want to submit to the press or the magazine but can’t be bothered to go to a bookstore and shell out a few bucks for a book. Tin House gets their receipt, you get to make a submission without buying a book, I make a few bucks. Win win win.
But apparently some people are upset about this policy. I don’t really understand why, particularly because there are ways around the policy. Okay, if you’re pleading poverty, they’ve got you covered: “Writers who cannot afford to buy a book or cannot get to an actual bookstore are encouraged to explain why in haiku or one sentence (100 words or fewer).” If you’re into eBooks, ditto: “Tin House Books and Tin House magazine will consider the purchase of e-books as a substitute only if the writer explains: why he or she cannot go to his or her neighborhood bookstore, why he or she prefers digital reads, what device, and why.”
Here’s my real take. Tin House isn’t going to publish me anyway. I’ve tried. I got ink once because I addressed my submission to the editor and he knows me, but that was an exception. Usually I get nothing. My agent submitted my book to the press (I wonder how this applies to agents?) and we got a nice rejection, but obviously they didn’t take it. So if this new rule bothers you, don’t submit to Tin House. It probably won’t make a difference, because they weren’t going to accept your work anyway.
>Frankly, I'm almost happy about it. I run into "writers" all the time who never purchase books or journals.
>I had first heard of the trend with regard to poetry magazines: it was said that many demanded a subscription from anyone who was going to submit a poem. But this is a new development. I agree with Ann: it's not a bad policy, in part to invite writers to be the readers that they must also be, in part to spur the book industry of which literary journals are part of.
Cliff, do you really expect a constant stream of rejection letters from Tin House? They do publish some good stuff. But I am often naïve about the role quality plays in submissions. Maybe I should take your course on publishing short stories.
On the same Tin House universe, a story by managing editor Cheston Knapp was published recently on One Story. It's called "A Minor Momentousness in the History of Love," and it revolves around a tennis match. I think the interview (here) adumbrates what kind of story it was.
>Oh, I don't really think it's hopeless, exactly, and I don't even think that Tin House is quite the closed shop that some good magazines are. I haven't completely given up on them.