Why Bad Publishers are Bad and Good Publishers are Worse


People who run good publishing companies aren’t very good writers. That’s why they’ve turned to publishing and have become, what they consider, good publishers. These good publishers, who are not good writers—even though they’ve been told so by critics (worse writers than the people who are good publishers), by their friends (mhm), and by each other, publish writing that is not good writing. Bad publishers are run by better writers—see 2011 U.N. Report on Myanmar. Bad publishers, however, don’t publish anything and don’t last very long. Bad publishers are not interested in what other people are writing because the people who are bad publishers are better writers than the writers submitting work to them. This is an interesting paradigm. That was a useless sentence.

The result of this paradigm is that good writing is rarely published and bad writing is regularly published. Good writers have a difficult time penetrating the aura that good publishers create for themselves. Good publishers meet in big cities. Good publishers drink beer together. Good publishers have costume parties. Good publishers make posters and t-shirts and give away free bookmarks. Good publishers tell each other that they are AWESOME and the best thing they’ve read since {fill in the blank}.

Good publishers also ask writers (good and bad) to pay for sitting across a table from them so that they might share the secrets of how to get published (e.g., write about garbage trucks or pop singers and make it different). So when good publishers advertise that they are looking for something different, something good, what they are really saying is that they’re looking for something that’s not too different and not too good. The only thing that bad publishers do together is keep a list of good publishers that they update each year. They snicker at this list—not together because bad publishers don’t meet—but secretly wonder how they can become one of those good publishers. They can’t. The people at bad publishing companies write too well and don’t care for their fellow human beings. They’re not interested in nurturing talent the way good publishers are (even though good publishers can’t nurture talent because they don’t know what talent is). I accidentally received a copy of this secret list when my narrative poem “Elvis and Garbage Truck” was returned to me from a bad publisher. The list will be leaked soon for the sake of…we’ll say transparency.

So what started out as two or three people drinking in a basement or bar or garage has now become a racket. But we’ll meet in Tuscaloosa next year for the annual AFMEMCLWP. Table space cost $823.74. It’s something to do.

The other reason good publishers are worse than bad publishers—and this is a minor reason—is that good publishers don’t publish me.

Yours truly,


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