Hundreds of essays disappear

I sent two unsolicited essays to Black Inc a couple of months ago a longer and a shorter essay on open source software. Neither was successful which was fair enough. Fortunately I hadn’t written them for that forum, but was hoping that they might publish them.

When I inquired as to how to send them in I was told to do so by sending duplicate copies in with a covering letter. This in the 21st Century. Assuming that this was a rational thing for them to do rather than something they’d not thought about much – perhaps they did it this way to increase the effort required to get them a manuscript. It really is pretty easy to flick an essay onto an email.

I just rang them and found out that they received 500 essays. Of which they’ll publish less than 30 I presume. So there are hundreds of essays remaining unpublished. I guess many like mine will have been published elsewhere. But many won’t be.

So it’s a real pity they didn’t take the essays by email and post them on some website for those who are interested to find them.

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Paul Watson
2022 years ago


Black Inc’s requirement for hardcopy submission is a rational one, even in the age of ubiquitous email. 20,000-word essays obviously can’t be read and assessed onscreen, so allowing submissions by email would necessarily entail a publisher’s consumables subsidy of a few dollars per ms. Pin money, sure

Nicholas Gruen
2022 years ago

Yes Paul,

Your points are valid. I conceded the first point in my post and the second one is pretty obvious too. But it’s a pity though – which was the main point I was trying to make.

derrida derider
derrida derider
2022 years ago

Nonsense. There is no need to print out all, or even the great bulk of, the 500. The great majority can be safely deemed unpublishable based on the first para, and an experienced editor can reject most of the rest after the first page. You could easily get it down to a shortlist of, say, 50 or 60 that is all you have to actually read in full.

I reckon its just Ludditism.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

You have just reminded me to make absolutely sure that my first page of anything important is spiffy.

Really spiffy.

One way of doing it would be the film industry approach. Ask for a one page summary, the first three pages and a one page cv. That is the honest approach.

A fair number of those essays would be written late at night under instruction from the Great Centipede that lives in the lampshade.