Welcome to 2018!

The rocks are where they are—and this is their will. The rivers flow—and this is their will. The birds fly—this is their will. Human beings talk—this is their will. The seasons change, heaven sends down rain or snow, the earth occasionally shakes, the waves roll, the stars shine—each of them follows its own will. To be is to will and so is to become.
—D.T. Suzuki 

Change is inevitable. It’s scary. It’s an opportunity. Change is a new lover. An old secret. An unexpected twist. The first cold gust of autumn; the first warm breeze of March. Change drives us even as we resist it. Yet when we embrace it, only then do we thrive. Only then do we fully become.

Change arrives at The 3288 Review. But it is, we think, overwhelmingly positive and exciting. Last spring, we announced our transition from a quarterly to a semiannual. This migration has done much to decompress our editorial workload. Simultaneously, we announced that our contributors—beginning with Vol. 3—should be located in, or strongly tied to, West Michigan. These tweaks to our formula cement us most strongly with the creative voices in our own backyard. Voices that, we hasten to add, are well worth celebrating.

As we dive into 2018, we do so with several new opportunities on the horizon. Foremost, we’re eager to partner more closely with the local literary community. In November, for example, we held a very well-attended reading at the Books & Mortar store on Cherry Street in Grand Rapids. The relationships we’ve built with the local arts community has brought new talent and new energy to our roster of contributors. We’re particularly keen to be working much more closely with Write616—the organization formerly known as the Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters—on programming.

Within Caffeinated Press, the official publisher of this journal, the content refinement of The 3288 Review is being mirrored by similar targeting for Brewed Awakenings, our annual house anthology. While the journal has emphasized local talent in literary fiction and poetry, the anthology is unapologetically open to both literary fiction and genre fiction. We aim to promote this journal and the anthology as complimentary opportunities for emerging local literary talent to find its voice, regardless of medium or genre.

With the new year comes some masthead transitions:

  1. We’re supremely grateful for the excellent service of Leigh Jajuga, our poetry editor for volumes 2 and 3. Her keen eye and discerning sense of verse made our poetry inclusions a delight to our readers. We will miss her. Local poet KT Herr, host of the Electric Poetry show on WYCE, will step up as poetry editor for Vol. 4.
  2. Elyse Wild, the nonfiction editor for volumes 1 and 2, departs to focus on her education. We wish her the best as her own career blossoms. Local book editor Lisa McNeilley, PhD, will support our prose editing in her stead.

Although he’s not technically leaving, our founding editor, John Winkelman, is taking a sabbatical for 2018. He’s invested hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars into launching this franchise. While he earns some well-deserved R&R, the publisher, Jason Gillikin, will serve as interim editor in chief.

To streamline the submissions process, beginning now we’re folding the submission form into the broader Caffeinated Press submission tool. The old submission tool relied on a webpage form that kicked off a packaged email, that then had to be loaded into a project-management tool. When email was down, or something went awry, or people got busy, it made things … difficult. This new tool is essentially a ticketing system: Submitters will receive immediate confirmation of their submission and receive a dedicated link for communicating with us through the review process. In all, this tweak should save us (editors and submitters alike) a ton of confusion, email and inefficiency.

One other change.

In case you missed it, The 3288 Review actually started reviewing. In issue 3.1, we offered four reviews of recently released poetry collections. If you’d like to have your recently released work considered for review, please send one printed copy to us. For more info, just reach out to a member of our masthead.

Thanks for all your support of The 3288 Review these last few years. We’re eager to continue our mission of advancing the best literary and artistic talent West Michigan has to offer, for many years to come.

Upon Writing 150 Rejection Letters

In the third week of January I attended the ConFusion science fiction convention in Novi, Michigan. As cons go this is one of the smaller gatherings, and the mix of panelists and attendees seems to skew toward the professional. In addition to fans, authors and writers of all varieties, there were editors, publishers, marketers, etc., with most wearing more than one hat. As a secretary/chief operations officer/editor/editor in chief, I get how this works.

Last week I sent out the last 75 rejection letters to authors who had submitted work to issue 1.3. To give some perspective: For our first issue we had around twenty-five submissions. Forty writers and artists submitted to issue 1.2; and 1.3—the current issue—saw 175. We can thank DuoTrope, NewPages and Poets & Writers for the bump in visibility.

Why do I mention these two facts together? Because one of the convention panels was titled “The Business of Rejection”. Not all—indeed, not even the majority—of panels at this convention are specific to genre. With careful planning an event like ConFusion can be used as an intensive educational course on the business of publishing.

Having been on the receiving end of no small number of rejection notes, I now find it interesting to be the person handing them out. Here are some of my notes, cleaned up and made relevant to our journal:

  • Don’t take rejection personally. The fact that your submission is not a good fit for this venue at this time does not mean that it won’t work somewhere else.
  • Rejection of a single piece is not rejection of your entire body of work. Unless, of course, this is the only thing you have ever written and submitted.
  • Don’t necessarily edit based on the feedback of a single rejection letter. Each editor will see something different. If you get half a dozen rejections of a poem, and each has the same comments, then maybe take another look at their suggestions.
  • The job of a writer is to write. As an ancillary benefit you may get published, but first and foremost, write for the sake of writing.
  • Rejection can mean different things. A flat “No” means that your work in no way matched the criteria, needs, or taste of the venue to which you submitted. A “No, but please submit again” could mean this one piece was not quite right, or that there were more acceptable pieces than room in the journal, and for whatever reason your work simply didn’t make the final cut. “Please revise and re-submit” (usually accompanied by suggestions) means the editors do want to publish this piece, but it needs a little more refinement.
  • If you get feedback with your rejection letter it means that your work had enough promise for the editors to pay extra attention and offer some guidance.
  • “Rejectomancy” is the dark art of sussing out what is actually being said in a rejection letter.
  • In aggregate, rejection letters can be as useful as writing courses for refining talent.

So thank you to everyone who has submitted work to The 3288 Review, whether we printed you or not. Every piece we read broadens our minds and helps us improve our editorial skills.