On the behaviour of poets

I love my contributors at Algebra of Owls. Well, most of them.

The guy I love the most is the one who, after I emailed him to say I had not picked his poems to post emailed me straight back…

“Your ass is history. Don’t give me your fucking attitude”

I am glad to report that he was wrong. My ass is very much alive and well in the present day, and shows every sign of persisting far in the future, in all its flabby pink glory.

Previously, I have discussed on here my suspicions about the behaviour of Duotrope subscribers (see here). Specifically, I worried that acceptance percentages for magazines might all be too high because poets might be more inclined to report acceptances rather than their rejections.

First, this is a bit true. It is hard to link specific Duotrope activity to specific contributors, but sometimes the timing of events makes certain things clear. I know that one person who sent me 6 poems over two submissions, reported just the one that got accepted and not the five that were not.

The good news is that I have learned that Duotrope is wise to this sort of thing and excludes outliers from publication statistics. So if someone seems to have 98% of their submissions accepted, they get ignored for statistical purposes because it’s bleedin’ obvious they aren’t playing it straight.

The bad news is that sort of behaviour – only reporting acceptances – affects only one thing. The poet’s own acceptance percentage on Duotrope. A statistic which only one person will ever look at – the poet – because frankly no-one else cares. So I am sure that their ego will be mightily soothed as they stare in isolation at a number on a screen that they know full well is wrong and no-one else will ever see. It’s like cheating at solitaire.

Today I saw another corker. I rejected another submission (one of the poems I ummed and arred over but eventually there were other poems I liked better than it). Twelve hours later they sent me an email…

“Sadly I wish to withdraw the submission of my poems for a re-write”

I’d already said no…but they still wanted to claim some sort of moral high ground by sending me a withdrawal? The mind boggles.

5 thoughts on “On the behaviour of poets

  1. Update – as expected, the “late withdrawal” poet has registered it as such on Duotrope so Algebra now shows as “not responding” to 16.67% of submissions, leading to withdrawal. Can’t really do much about that so hey ho 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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