Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Free Lunch #39

The latest issue of Free Lunch is #39.

In the editorial, Ron Offen answers those who have accused him of being a Luddite for not embracing the internet as fervently as some seem not just to prefer him to do so but actually expect him to. Well my answer is, "Why should he?" I'm sure I'm not alone in this opinion. As one who has embraced the internet to a large extent myself, I don't see it as an either/or situation. Each to their own and it is the editor's choice at the end of the day. If would-be contributors cannot accept the editor's decision, then there are plenty of other magazines for them to try.

The main bone of contention is the question of email submissions as opposed to regular snail-mail submission. As Ron points out, he is basically a one-man band. One thing he fears is that switching to email submissions would lead to a flood of submissions and more than he could handle. It is a fair point and is born out by the experience of other editors. This is not surprising as for the contributor it is so much easier to send an email than print and post and provide return postage. Ron feels it would increase the turnaround time between receiving the work and responding. I'm not sure I'd agree with him there, but it depends on other factors too.

Ron is unhappy about his ability to evaluate poems on screen and feels he would need to print-out submissions in order to assess them properly, which is extra paper and ink costs for the magazine to bear. I totally agree that to really attend to a poem intended to appear in a printed magazine, you have to see it actually in print. After a while though you do get accustomed to reading poetry on-screen, and he might find that he only needed to print out a portion of the submissions - many would be obvious rejects from the start.

His other concern is that plain-text email mangles the formatting of poems whilst attachments could transmit a virus. I tend not to agree with him on these points. Looking through the work in the current issue, I can't see any poems where special formatting is absolutely essential. A plain text submission would need nothing more than an occasional note saying specific lines should be italicised. If he were to elect to consider submissions as attachments then provided his AV software was up to date, and he took reasonable care to check the nature of the attachment, the risk of getting an infection would be minimal.

Ron is however making a concession and will consider email submissions from writers abroad. His main reason is that many countries no longer issue International Reply Coupons which is a double-whammy for overseas contributors. The one thing I think he should be concerned about is that the ease of submitting by email, tempts many writers into sending multiple, simultaneous submissions to both magazines printed offline and those that publish online.
Free Lunch
PO Box 717
IL 60025-0717

ISSN 1041-0945
$5 [$6 foreign]
Subscriptions: 3 issues $12
[$15 foreign]

visit the website of Free Lunch
Read reviews of earlier issues.


1 comment:

  1. My husband, owner and editor of Tears In The Fence Magazine, had the same qualms as Ron. His way of dealing with this problem was to put on all letters sent that no submissions were dealt with via e-mail. This proved very successful but as you said in your post, many countries got rid of the international reply coupons. In the end he made concessions and accepted some poetry via e-mail.