Independent Publishers Gather for IBPA’s Publishing University: Guest Post by Alia Neaton

On April 27-28th, independent publishers, writers, and students gathered at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago for the Independent Book Publishers Association’s Publishing University 2013. Luckily for us, MAWP student Alia Neaton was in attendance all weekend, and has graciously taken the time to write up what she saw and what she learned about independent book publishing for today’s guest post. Alia says she found the conference “informative, inspiring, and helpful,” and would recommend it to anyone interested in attending next year. Thanks, Alia! 

“There are two kinds of authors,” Guy Kawasaki’s eyes leveled the crowd, “The kind who want a big advance and liars.”

Laughter filled the Monroe Room of Chicago’s Palmer hotel as the keynote speaker continued his lecture on self-publishing and his experience in the industry. Kawasaki, the former Apple evangelist and author of APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur—How to Publish a Book, opened the Independent Book Publishers Association’s Publishing University 2013 on Friday, April 27th. With the theme of “Discoverability: How to Reach Your Readers and Sell More Books,” the not-for-profit trade association developed a two-day conference filled with leaders in the independent publishing industry, covering topics ranging from “Secrets of Successful Amazon Selling” to “Strategies for a Winning Social Media Campaign.”

Attendees bustled from session to session, learning tips from the experts and exploring the vendor tables in the Adams Room, where printers, designers, and publishers displayed their services.

Saturday’s Keynote Luncheon featured Dominique Raccah, the founder of the largest woman-owned trader publishing company, Sourcebooks. She described her humble beginnings in 1987 with one book, which, in her words, “sucked!”

In 2012, Sourcebooks sales had bloomed into nearly 8 million books sold. Raccah’s lecture distilled her experience growing the company into the success it is today. She spoke about how publishers needed to consider the experience of their readers, “Discoverability is easier if people want to talk about your book.”

According to Raccah’s formula, there are four “Fundamentals of Making a Book Publisher”:

  1. Create a really strong book
  2. Communicate
  3. Distribute
  4. Rinse and Repeat

While it sounds simple, the groundbreaking work stems from the creative aspect. With the number-one problem in publishing being the disproportionately high failure rate of books, Raccah encouraged the audience to devote attention to the book itself, listing four components to creating a stronger book:

  1. Positioning
  2. Title
  3. Content & Internal Design
  4. Cover & Packaging.

The importance of the book’s cover, title and design had also been emphasized by Guy Kawasaki the day before. In a metaphor pitting publishing against the dating industry, Kawasaki described the consideration with which readers buy e-books as less like eHarmony and more like Readers judge books by their cover.

Raccah’s lecture proved this phenomenon when she provided examples of books that had sold only 5,000 copies until a makeover of the cover and title boosted that number to 85,000. The recurring suggestion of multiple panelists was to always involve professionals and experts in the design, copy editing, and cover art of the book. From self-publishing on Wattpad or Smashwords to distributing through BookBaby or Vook, books can increase their possibility for exposure and reception by tapping into such experts.

“Quit narrowing your possibilities, “Raccah urged, “Create books that inspire you.” Her lecture closed with the insistence that she wanted her presentation to be from heart, “It’s about, in the end, touching people.”

For more information about the Independent Book Publishers Association, visit

For a copy of the full 2013 program, visit


On How I Got Six Essays Published in MQR: Guest Post by Zhanna Vaynberg

Earlier this week, we received an exciting piece of Alumni News: after a long wait, MAWP graduate Zhanna Vaynberg‘s series of six short essays had finally gotten published in the Michigan Quarterly Review. We asked Zhanna how this unusual publishing contract had come about, and when she sat down to write out an answer, the story turned out to be quite long. We’re posting Zhanna’s story here as a guest post in hopes that it interests those of you looking to publish your writing in literary journals– and we would like to send Zhanna our thanks and congratulations!

On how I got six essays published in MQR’s winter 2013 issue:

Back in December of 2011, I e-mailed Michigan Quarterly Review asking if they’d had a chance to read over a short-short called “Roots” I’d sent them in the mail back in August (I was new to the whole submitting process, or I would’ve known that four months was basically one second in magazine-publishing time). Surprisingly, I got an e-mail the very next day from Jonathan Freedman, the head editor, saying that he’d just read it — I think it had gotten misplaced or they just had forgotten about it or something — and while he’d really enjoyed the essay, they just didn’t publish things that short (it was about a page long). He said, however, that he’d be happy to read something else I’d written. So I sent him two things — one of which was a short fiction piece that Bellevue Literary Review ended up publishing in fall, the other, a piece I’m still working on. His response was basically “I love your writing, but these aren’t stories that I want to publish.” Which I wasn’t offended about at all, because at that point both of them were quite old, and my writing had moved far past it. Then Jonathan presented me with a challenge. He said that the original story, ‘Roots,” which was basically about the ambivalence I’d felt towards my Ukrainian upbringing, had really stuck with him, and what if I wrote 5-6 more short pieces like it — in his words, something “world-weary in the best Russo-Jewish-American-Chicago way” — and he would publish them together?

We then went on to have a very long e-mail exchange that ranged in topics from our mutual hatred of Jerusalem (coincidentally, also a subject of one of the essays) to whatever happened to CBGB’s (it’s now an outlet store) to the best Thai food in Chicago (Thai Avenue on Broadway and Argyle). Then I didn’t really hear from him again until March or April of 2012. Meanwhile, I had just finished up the DePaul MAWP program, and after taking Michele Morano’s Travel Writing course was honestly a bit fed up with writing nonfiction and really didn’t want to do it again; and that is in no way to say I did not like Michele Morano or that class — I loved that class, and I think Michele Morano is one of the best professors out there (in fact, that I write nonfiction at all can be entirely traced back to a summer multi-genre course she taught, and four of the six essays in this bunch were originally written in classes she taught). It’s just that I don’t enjoy writing nonfiction all that much. I’ve always been a fiction person; even though much of it is intertwined with real experiences I’ve had or people I know, I like being able to play around with facts, and to hide behind that curtain of “it’s fiction!” anytime someone asks how much of a story I’d written was true. I wanted to get back to that.

However, it had been a few months already since we’d discussed the possibility of a collection of essays, and Jonathan asked me, in a very friendly way, if I had made any progress on our little project. I’d had some early drafts of two of the essays that would eventually end up in the issue, but I hadn’t really been working on it much. I’d also been published a few times by then, so I wasn’t in a big rush at this point. However, after a few weeks of relishing my post-grad-school freedom, I did slowly begin working on them again because I am an anxious person and don’t like to leave things unfinished. By July I had about half of them done and sent away to Jonathan. He wanted more — I wrote more. Then, just when I thought I had a good batch, five total, and would never have to write nonfiction again, he said “Yes, I’ll take them! But you have to write one more; something more current.” (All of the essays took place circa 2005 – 2010.) Luckily, it was nearly September, and my sister’s wedding was coming up — what better occasion to write about the authentic Russian-Jewish experience? So, even though it was very strange to write something I knew was for sure going to get published, and even though I’d drunk enough vodka to make an elephant pass out, I still managed to remember enough of the event to write a final essay about the experience. It wasn’t intended to tie together all the other essays in a neat bow or anything cheesy like that, but in a subtle way, there was a somewhat final tone to it. A little bit after that, I found a title to encompass all of them — as much as I could, away, considering each one is a separate entity to me. Then it was just a matter of waiting. First, it was supposed to go into the fall issue, but it didn’t fit — then, the winter issue, which was supposed to come out some months ago. Now, two days before May, the issue has finally been released! End of very long-winded story.

I’m actually very appreciative of the whole experience — it definitely helps to have deadlines and someone pushing you along so you don’t get too lazy, especially when you’re just out of school. Now that I’m used to being on my own, I have no problem writing on a pretty regular basis, but who knows if I’d still be at that point without having had that goal to work towards. And of course, the very patient Jonathan Freedman, who really gives magazine editors a good name.

You can order the Winter 2013 issue of Michigan Quarterly Review at

The Power of Story and “How Long Will I Cry?”: Guest Post by Lisa Applegate

Over the past few years, many of our DePaul English Graduate students have been involved in an ongoing oral history project, collecting stories of youth violence from those affected by it throughout Chicago. Lisa Applegate (MAWP) is one of those students, having participated in Miles Harvey’s Oral History class as well as an Independent Study on the project. Last month, a play comprised of a few of the stories collected for this project titled “How Long Will I Cry?:Voices of Youth Violence” debuted at the Steppenwolf Theater, and Lisa was one of the first to see a performance (for more information about the play, see this previous post on Ex Libris). The following is a special guest post Lisa wrote about her experience working on this project after watching the play. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Lisa.

It didn’t take long to feel it, maybe a few minutes after the lights dimmed. Up there on stage I saw Joy, Frankie, Ora, Jaime. I heard their words again, heard them recount their memories again, and I felt that tightness in my throat, again. These were people I felt I knew, and I almost couldn’t bear hearing about their pain again. But I did, and so did the rest of the audience, because we all knew how important these words were, to our city and to the youth who were no longer able to speak for themselves.

I watched “How Long Will I Cry,” written by Professor Miles Harvey and currently showing at Steppenwolf Theatre, and realized two things. First, I was proud of the collective effort that created such a powerful piece of storytelling. Like many of you, I had the honor of contributing a small part to Prof. Harvey’s project, which involved dozens of students and more than seventy interviews. We all spent hours transcribing those interviews, arranging them into narratives, editing the finished work. At first, I couldn’t fathom how these many stories — gathered from young and old, parents and siblings, gang members and healers all across Chicago — could coalesce into a coherent work. They did, beautifully, in both the play and an upcoming book to be published by DePaul.

When I first moved to Chicago eight summers ago, I remember being shocked at how complacent residents seemed about the numbers of young people dying by violence — the highest in the country. But after week upon week of headlines, I, too, became desensitized, feeling powerless to make any difference. Prof. Harvey’s project, and the support of DePaul in general, revived my anger and gave me an outlet to at least help raise awareness about what so many of our neighbors suffer through.

Which leads me to the other thing I learned watching “How Long”: the power of story. I know, it’s an oft-used phrase in our program, but I had never experienced the power at such a deep level. As a writer, I have interviewed many people and a few have stayed with me, but not like this. I got to transcribe the interviews with Joy McCormack, the mother of former DePaul student Frankie Valencia, who was killed at a 2009 Halloween party. I will never forget her description of waiting for hours at the hospital and finally getting to see her firstborn, only to find him cold and the sheets soaked with blood. I got to read many other transcriptions and still recall the details of their lives — the boy who hid his gun under his bed so his young siblings couldn’t find it, the girl who spoke encouraging words to herself because she didn’t have any role models to say them for her. It took time for these details to emerge — these were two, three, four hours’ worth of recordings — and that’s what makes their stories so compelling. Through the details of their unique experiences, I gained a level of empathy I couldn’t have in any news story or sound bite. I brought friends with me to see “How Long,” and they agreed: They thought they understood what was happening in Chicago’s neighborhoods, they thought they were angry about the senseless deaths, but the play took it all to another level.

After being involved in this project, I no longer skip the headlines when a young person has been killed due to violence. Every time, as I read the story to its end, my throat tightens and I swallow tears. I have never actually lost a loved one to violence, and I would never claim to fully comprehend such devastation. But I still consider myself a member of this vast family of Chicagoans who ache for these killings to end. I am one of them because I care, even about people I don’t actually know. People like Joy and Frankie, Ora and Jaime. And that is the power of story.

Do you have an idea for the next Ex Libris guest post? Email Maria at

AWP- A Community of Writers: Guest Post by Shane Zimmer

Haven’t had enough of the 2012 AWP Conference in Chicago yet? Neither have we! Following Jacqueline Maggio’s guest post on Tuesday, today we have another slightly different take on last week’s four-day writing conference from MAWP student Shane Zimmer. Thanks, Shane, for sharing your AWP reflections with Ex Libris readers.

I heard a lot of big talk about the AWP Conference for a couple of weeks before the event. Despite being skeptical of hype, I did attend, all three days in fact, March 1-3 at the Chicago Hilton. For me the conference lived up to its reputation.

It was educational and exciting. But the most surprising impact the conference had on me was that I suddenly felt part of a community.

Although the panels were interesting, I enjoyed the Book Fair much more. Each day I walked around the hundreds of tables and booths to peruse the overwhelming number of literary journals, publishing houses and presses. I filled my bag with about fifteen pounds of journals and talked to a lot of editors and publishers who were, it’s strange to say, not unlike me. They loved art, were presumably living modest lives, and were dedicated to the culture of literature.

It was inspiring to look beyond the bestsellers, the books-made-into-movies, and all the other popularized aspects of literature and instead to see a greater picture of our literary culture. To see it, yes, and to interact with it. I could actually talk with the editors of say, Tin House or McSweeney’s, or the many smaller publications that were just as cool, like locals Anobium and Artifice Magazine.

It was inspiring because so often I feel like I’m writing in a bubble. Sure, there is school and my few writer friends, but it’s a small group and they are sometimes eclipsed by the big, impersonal worlds of academia, the publishing industry and a global society in which a billion voices are crying out all at once.

Beyond school and my friends, there are the journals and presses, but really, who are these people? They seem to exist as abstractions in cyber space or as a mailed subscriptions two to six times a year.

But no. They are more than abstractions. They are everyday people like us. I’ve met them. They want to know what we’re writing. They want us to contribute to their projects and want, like we all want, to be inspired and to inspire others to create their best work.

Meeting these people, I found myself falling into a pattern that later I codified: 1. Talk to people openly. 2. Listen to them carefully. 3. Follow up.

Number three is important enough to repeat: follow up.

I talked with Courtney Davison, Editor at Paper Darts, who referred me to a story that “changed how [she] viewed short stories.” Later I met Christopher Wolford, Editorial Assistant at Bull who mentioned an essay in their latest edition that he proudly “championed and convinced the editors to accept.”

I read both pieces and went back to each person to share my impressions. They were delighted to be getting feedback and our resulting conversations went off in unexpected and satisfying directions.

A MAWP friend recommended I check out Open Letter, a publisher dedicated to translations. Because their books were only five bucks, I asked one of the staff, Chad Post to tell me which of all the books on the table was his favorite. He said that Scars by Argentinean author Juan José Saer “reinstated his faith in fiction.” I myself have had my doubts about fiction lately and so I bought it, got his email and told him that after I read it, I’ll write him with my reactions. And I will.

I believe that this one aspect of what people mean when they talk about building a community. Of course it doesn’t always have to do with reading recommended works, but it does always involve some level of engagement.

Engaging each other feeds the culture. Just like a culture of living organisms in a Petri dish needs its food, our culture of arts and literature needs to be fed by our efforts to talk and share, to encourage and help out, and to follow up.

The conference was synchronistic for me. I had decided about a month ago that late in 2012 I will start aggressively submitting to literary journals. This weekend I was able to collect a long list of places to submit. But much more than a list, much more than a collection of publications, I gained from AWP a sense that there is a larger world out there of writers and thinkers and artistic weirdos like me, and we are part of a living, thriving community.

On the AWP Conference: Guest Post by Jacqueline Maggio

If you didn’t attend the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference this weekend, you may be wondering what all the fuss was about. If you were there, you may be wishing you could re-live it…without the crowds. Fortunately for all of us, Jacqueline Maggio has written a reflection on her AWP experience and is sharing it here on Ex Libris. Jacqueline is a first-year MAWP student as well as a first-year Chicagoan (she hails from Rome, Italy). You can read more about Jacqueline’s AWP experience and more at her personal blog, Thanks, Jacqueline!

The AWP Conference consists of three full-immersion days in the world of writers and publishers. It is held in a different location every year and this year it was held in Chicago. Some of us were lucky enough to get a free pass to the Conference and had to work a shift at the DePaul table in the BookFair section.

It was held at the Hilton Hotel on Michigan Avenue and the notion in itself suggested that it was going to be a huge event. As I entered the hotel and joined the line for registration, I started realizing what it all meant: ten thousand people roaming the halls, but more than that, ten thousand people who, like me, were somehow attached to this particular community – because they were editors, agents, readers, writers, aspiring writers, journalists, translators, staff of publishing houses, fans of a specific writer, professors, aspiring teachers, students.

I saw approximately ten panels in three days, I shook hands with successful and professional writers, I talked with independent press editors and staff, I interacted with all sorts of people and as I went on, slowly but surely, I got elated by the feeling that they could all understand me because, in some way, they were like me.

As I listened to the panels and took notes, I also understood that we were all there – all of us with laptops, notebooks, pieces of paper and pens – to learn something, to share something and to enjoy what we love doing the most – writing, or teaching, or reading, or editing. And all the professors, editors, bloggers and authors on the different podiums never stopped stressing one fact in particular: that one should never give up what one’s doing, and one should always keep on doing what one does because it’s what one loves the most. That’s why we should continue putting our energy and efforts in all our writing, editing, teaching – even when it seems most difficult, even when we get blocked and don’t seem to go anywhere, even when one of our pieces gets rejected twenty times.

It was an incredible experience, especially for me. In Rome, every year we hold a Fair of Independent Presses and Publishing Houses, and it’s quite large, but I’ve never seen so many people as there were at AWP.

I enjoyed myself because I learnt a lot – I have twenty pages of notes and literary magazines stacked on my desk – and I networked. I met new people from my own program and I went to my professor’s panels, feeling proud at being given the chance to work with them outside the boundaries of the Conference itself.

I learnt Tech tips, I learnt how to put together a short story collection, I learnt how much of my own life episodes I should insert in my stories, I learnt about travel writing and immersion memoir, I learnt how to use technology and blogs to get better known in the Internet community, I learnt the difficulties about the first publication, I learnt about the editor-author relationship.

I passed those revolving doors knowing almost nothing of this particular world and I ended with a vaster knowledge for which I’m grateful. I was able to listen to Margaret Atwood give her speech at the Auditorium Theatre and laughed at the irony in her words. Three thousand people fell silent as she said that a writer has his own bag of tools which is, alas, a bag of tricks. That we, as writers, have the power to make things and events go forwards, but also have the power to make them go backwards.

I told every professor I encountered that I found all of it overwhelming. I still think it was overwhelming, even two days later. I wish I had been two different people, to go in different rooms and follow every single panel. I wish I had more time to raid the Book Fair. And I also think it was what I needed the most, to see with my own eyes that “no writer is an island” and that every day, even if what we do is difficult and we at some point we all wish we’d chosen another job, we have to remember we are not alone, and there are other thousands of people staying up into the night to get a speech, a story, a poem, a lesson to its perfect point.

Tech-savy tips on how to keep your and your work organized:

  • Find and use specific tools – such as Dropbox, Hoot Suite and Office Word for writing and keeping your work neat and organized. Learn how to use simple Web Platforms in order to share your work – Tumblr, Flickr, Typad and WordPress are perfect for blogging and networking.
  • In Blogs, try to be inspired: use thematic posts (once a week) and add visual posts to your blog. Also, differentiate your topics when you’re writing just a personal blog, so as keep the reader interested. One important thing is to always be authentic as a person, and not to write things just to attract audience.

Tips and advice for authors and writers going writing their pieces and thinking about putting it out for publication:

  • First of all, one shouldn’t have its story get out of their hands until it’s completely done
  • The important thing in a short story or a novel is the emotional pulse point, the golden thread which one has to always follow
  • The writer must think about the reader’s experience and how the reader would read/feel the characters and the story itself;
  • When the reader reads the story he should relax and enjoy him/herself, and he shouldn’t be fumbling with the eventual mysteries or relationships or events in the piece
  • Always be persistent in pursuing publication, don’t get blue because of the rejections received – those are normal
  • Always remember that an editor is a person like you, therefore has its own tastes even when it comes to writing and reading stories
  • Don’t think that an editor wouldn’t like to read your work, just keep in mind that they might like something Not Similar to what they themselves write
  • It’s always good to be critical to one’s own work, but never overdo it
  • Always keep in mind the basic concept of finding a voice inside a piece and try to follow that one
  • Don’t rush; don’t pursue the famous side of being a writer, but do it because it’s what you love doing

Lessons from Chicago Women in Publishing: Guest Post by Rhiannon Falzone

Last week, a few lucky women from the MAWP program got to attend an event offered by Chicago Women in Publishing. Among them was Rhiannon Falzone, who was generous enough to write about what she learned at the event and share it with the rest of us in a very detailed guest post. You can read more of Rhiannon’s writing at any time at her personal blog, Thanks, Rhiannon!


Chicago Women in Publishing (CWIP) is a nonprofit volunteer organization that began in 1972. This organization exists for non-professional editors and writers and individuals currently working in the writing and publishing industries.

On Wednesday, February 15, along with two other students from the MAWP program, I attended an event, The Freelance Edge: The Thrill of the Hunt: Finding and Retaining Great Clients. Over the course of two hours, I heard from experts on freelance writing and editing, business coaching, time management, and pricing management, giving the attendees tips on the best ways to efficiently market themselves.

The keynote speaker was Vickie Austin, a public speaker, business coach, career coach, and writer living in Chicago. There is a reason this woman makes a living from public speaking and coaching people on pursuing their passions; she commanded the room. The first thing she did was physically move the table at the front of the room. “Own the room!” she shouted.

Walking up and down the aisle in a room of forty-fifty people, 99% of them women, she advised all of us to, “Have a plan. You are in business and any good business has a written business plan for 3-5 years in the future.” She spoke of the actual physical endorphin rush one can get when accomplishing tasks on to-do lists; this is something that made me nod and nearly say, “Absolutely!” out loud.

Other tips she shared:

  1. Grow your “Golden Rolodex.” Know how to network for results. Use everyone who knows you by name, which is everyone who is breathing. Begin with who you know and be willing to give referrals as much as you ask for help.
  2. Find a community. I.e. Chicago Women in Publishing, where you can share your values and visions.
  3. Build your “posse.” Surround yourself with your cheerleaders, the people who support your mission.
  4. Figure out your mission. Find out what you love. Make your work something you love and can build and pass on.
  5. Give back. Be a mentor.

After the keynote speaker was finished, I chose to stay for a “Time Management” session with Kellie Christiansen, a freelance writer and editor. There was also the option of moving to adjoining rooms for talks on taxes and contract negotiations and the best ways freelance editors and writers can protect themselves. Kellie spoke about common pitfalls such as over-booking and under-booking ourselves, which are things we can control, and the thing we can’t control: distractions and surprises. She spoke of the four big “Don’ts.”

  1. Don’t let anyone else set your schedule. Be honest with a client about how long you estimate a project may take. The only thing a person has to trade on is their reputation.
  2. Don’t take on too much and don’t be afraid to ask for more time.
  3. Don’t be afraid to turn down projects. There will always be another one, truly.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for more money. Time really is money. You are the one determining how much your work is worth.

From this event I took away the following:

Be organized and more importantly, keep yourself organized. I am in charge of my time and how I choose to spend it/who I give it to. It’s crucial to decide what my daily schedule will look like: how many hours a day do I want to spend writing? How many hours can I spend writing, realistically? How many freelance projects should I take on at one time? When do I do my best work? As I continue the MAWP program and consider doing freelance work, all of these are things I must consider so I’m able to do my best possible work.

The overall theme of the night was making a plan for yourself and how to put it to work. What’s your plan?

More information can be found on the Chicago Women in Publishing website:


Do you have an idea for the next Ex Libris guest post? Email Maria at

Welcome to the World of Publishing: Guest Post by Zhanna Vaynberg

Today we bring you a very special guest post from Zhanna Vaynberg, a second-year M.A.W.P. student. You may recognize Zhanna’s name from several Student News spots on Ex Libris because she’s gotten a few pieces published this past year. Now she’s here to tell us what she’s learned from these first forays into the wide world of publishing. Oh, and she just got another poem published in After Hours journal. Congratulations, Zhanna, and thanks.


During much of January, I spent quite a bit of time moaning to my professors about a short story of mine that was supposed to be published back in October and had not come out yet.

“Welcome to the world of publishing,” they all said, with a smirk. Welcome, indeed. I shouldn’t have really been surprised, considering I work in the publishing industry, but I’d never been on the other side of the chaos.

Ask anyone, and they’ll tell you that the lifetime of a story can be very long.

Professor Christine Sneed told me it took Glimmer Train two years to publish one of her stories, and I’m sure all the other authors on staff at DePaul have similar anecdotes. In the case of my story, “Do Not Leave Chicago,” its pre-published life spanned almost a year, not including the writing part, which was about five months start-to-finish.

In July 2011, the story got accepted for publication by Euphony Journal‘s fall issue. However, the publication date kept getting pushed back every month and it did not actually get released until February (if you are interested, the digital version of it is up on Besides the anxiety of waiting (it was my first publication, so I was a little excited), because it came out in February 2012 and not late 2011, it was not eligible for a collection that the editor wanted to nominate it for (Best New Stories from the Midwest).

What’s the moral of the story? Well, all I can say is this: Start sending out stories right now. I currently have about five different stories in the hands of thirty various publications. Sometimes it takes four to six months to hear back just from one magazine (and most of the time it’s a rejection letter). Many of my fellow students have told me they’ve yet to try getting published, even those at the very end of a MAWP degree. But if not now, then when? We’re not getting any younger.

So, start sending out stories to literary magazines today. Because it may be years before they come out.


Do you have an idea for the next Ex Libris guest post? Or have you gotten something published recently and want to share the news with your fellow English grads? Email Maria at