A few weeks ago I started a literary publication called SPAM Publishing.

Now I have to deal with submissions and the impossible challenge of deciding what to publish.

How do I get myself into these things?

I tried to make things as easy as possible for me. I had always wanted to get into publishing, but I was held back by various limitations:

  1. No money or time to produce a printed product.
  2. No time to develop a cool Web-based product that could evolve as fast as the rest of the Internet (six months from now, Twitter will be old news).
  3. I didn’t want to try to compete with literary publications that were already doing the above (some of them quite well).

However, in a rare stroke of divine kookiness, I came up with one simple idea that solved all of these problems.

I would publish work over e-mail.

Think about it:

  • No money or time to produce a printed product? Problem solved! There is no printed product.
  • No time to develop something cool on the Web? Problem solved! There’s nothing on the Web, and I’d be making use of the most stable Internet technology of the last 15 years!
  • No desire to compete with literary publications? Problem solved! Nobody’s doing this, unless you mean the traditionally boring newsletters some of them send out.

But of course, I didn’t think quite far enough ahead. I didn’t think of having to reject people.

Meet Vincent Truman. Amazing human. Insightful. Witty. And he’s able to express his genius in brilliant ways as a playwright, author, and blogger.

I love his work. I love who he is as a person. To me, meeting Vincent Truman in the flesh would be an OMG moment. And I don’t say “OMG” lightly.

He submitted work for the first issue of SPAM Publishing.

Oh, how ecstatic I was!

And then I read it, and I was still ecstatic! Truman had instinctively known exactly what kind of pieces I was looking for. The right tone, the right mix of acute ribbing, social commentary, and pure literary brilliance. His work was right for the format. His submission was perfect.

I held the submission to my heart (not literally, of course, because I didn’t print it out or anything–SPAM Publishing leaves a very small carbon footprint) and I sighed a perfect sigh.

A week or two went by. More submissions came in and the people that help me (called SpamBots) and I also came across other work to consider. There were a lot of terrific pieces. And we had to choose between several perfect, perfect, perfect pieces. And for many, many strange and perhaps inexplicable reasons we did not choose Vincent Truman’s submission.

It hurt me a little. And the night we had decided, there he was on gchat, hanging out with a green light. And I don’t know what came over me, but I had to let him know.

And of course, he was gracious and kind and wonderful and amazing. And we didn’t even reject him outright–we’re still considering the same submission for a later issue. It’s just that…what if there is another equally-perfect submission that comes in later, right? The smart thing to do would be to reject him, let him go. Let the piece go. Don’t stretch it out for months. It seems less cruel to just end it, right?

But I know rejection letters all too well. There was no way Vincent Truman would be getting a standard form rejection from one of the SpamBots, and besides–his submission was perfect! We really are still considering publishing it!

So I told him that, over gchat. And we typed at each other and he made a bunch of hilarious comments that I couldn’t top. And that was that.

The next day I thought about it some more. What if I ended up having to reject Vincent Truman in the future? Would I really have the strength to do that? Is this world really so cruel?

Almost immediately the answer came to mind. No, the world isn’t that cruel. Or at least, it doesn’t have to be. I decided I will never reject Vincent Truman or anyone else that submits to SPAM Publishing.

Pieces that don’t get published within a few issues will go into the archive. Maybe some of them will come out in a printed collection someday. Maybe a piece that wasn’t timely when it was submitted will become timely suddenly and we’ll dig it out and publish it (if we can still track down the author for permission). Maybe anthropologists will study the archive centuries from now. Who knows?

The submissions and the archive will be SPAM Publishing’s best kept treasure. We will welcome the submissions, love them, and cherish them.

We will never reject them.

Incidentally, you can subscribe for free by sending a message to [email protected] (we’ll never send you more than 12 pieces per year).

That’s also where you can submit work for consideration. And we will never reject you. I promise.

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AARON DIETZ is the author of Super, a novel from Emergency Press about commitment, crisis, paperwork, and heartbreak. Dietz's super powers include a high metabolism and the ability to put things back where he got them. He's also pretty good at math. As an instructional designer, Dietz has written online high school courses on computer programming, green design, and 3-D video game creation. It’s natural for him to write quizzes. He’s worked a decade in libraries. He’s also been paid to count traffic and once failed a personality test. Dietz writes for TheNervousBreakdown.com, blogs at aarondietz.us, and is an advisory editor of KNOCK Magazine.

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