Bartleby the Litmag Publisher

Now I’m going to check back in on “Between Sleeps,” that Salvatore Difalco story I referenced in my last post, the one where I wrote a comment late last week that has been awaiting moderation. Between my own sleeps has the comment finally been ushered from the waiting room onto the comment thread, or maybe even rejected by the moderator as spam? Let’s see… and nope: still waiting.

In late March I reported that fewer than 10 percent of the short story authors I excerpted in my “Flânerie” posts actually clicked through to the Ficticities website. What about the literary magazines in which those stories appeared: did any of the publishers show up here? Each story highlighted in a Flânerie post was written by a different author and was published in a different litmag. As best as I could discern from limited data, maybe 1 or 2 of those 57 publishers followed the google keyword trail from title-author of stories they’d published back to their citations in Ficticities. None left a comment or sent an email.

If I published an online literary magazine I’d google every story I published for a few months. No doubt there’s a way of placing a standing order with Google to track particular strings of keywords on an ongoing basis, so my online monitoring protocol wouldn’t even require me to do it by hand one at a time on a daily or weekly basis. I’d keep the authors apprised of my findings, passing on the links to websites mentioning their published pieces. And if the linking websites had a comment feature I’d probably also drop comments, at least thanking them for reading and referencing the texts, perhaps also engaging in online discussion.

Why would I do it, at least hypothetically? To satisfy my curiosity about how many readers refer to the texts online and how they interact with those texts — do they cite, critique, analyze, interpret, make intertextual references, etc. To promote the magazine I suppose. Certainly to promote the authors. Mostly to encourage and to participate in the culture of fiction, the virtual ecosystem that links writers, readers, and publishers through texts.

What about the actually-existing online litmag publishers: why don’t they do it? Evidently they prefer not to.

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