Where to publish a long eclectic philosophical and literary essay?
April 6, 2010 11:21 PM   Subscribe

Where could I publish an eclectic novella-length philosophical and literary essay?

I'm looking for names of highly esteemed publications that would consider publishing an eclectic novella-length philosophical and literary essay.

I'm particularly interested (in the following order of preference) in publishing in:
1) an English-language publication in France
2) or Montreal
3) or Western Europe
4) an America publication
5) possibly another country?

For a little more information about the nature of the essay, my friend, a writer, said this impromptu in an email after reading it:

"On the whole, I thought the essay was thought-provoking, challenging and flawed. Certainly not mediocre. I do find it difficult to appraise, however, because it is formally idiosyncratic, unlike any other essay I've ever read. It eludes categorization. It addresses a vaster array of philosophical questions than are typically addressed in philosophical essays. It transitions seamlessly between analytical modes of argument and more poetic discourse. It is highly interdisciplinary, pulling from religion, philosophy, and sociology. For these reasons, this kind of essay is highly attractive (I've had ideas of writing similar pieces in the past, actually). It is also, as I say, difficult to appraise, because one does not know whether to judge it as philosophy, poetry, sociology, etc. And its idiosyncratic form also makes publishing it very difficult. Philosophical journals in America generally only accept articles from a) professors in academia, b) writing about extremely narrow issues in philosophy, and c) who position their work within contemporary discussions about the issue in question and cite accordingly. But these limitations exclude only the more formal philosophy journals in America. As you suggest, there are surely other journals that might be suitable, perhaps abroad."
posted by cotesdurhone to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
On-line via a site like Smashwords.
posted by JoannaC at 4:29 AM on April 7, 2010

There are such journals! (Though your friend is correct; the academic journals most certainly do not do that; they are for publication of papers in search of academic cash and prizes.) Search the Poets & Writers journals list for "creative nonfiction."

I, however, agree that you should publish it online as a serial. But somewhere with an editor!
posted by RJ Reynolds at 6:04 AM on April 7, 2010

If you don't find a home for it whole hog, consider self-publishing through something like Lulu, and then pulling "excerpts" that can be published as free-standing shorter pieces, (masquerading as "poems" or "essays"), in other publications in order to bring attention to your work. Good luck!
posted by neitheror at 8:42 AM on April 7, 2010

Response by poster: Hi neitheror. Thanks for the suggestion. I want to clarify for future comments-- the essay ought to be read as a whole, especially because it synthesizes seemingly disparate elements; if it were read in pieces, out of context, it wouldn't make much sense, and could be misinterpreted egregiously.
posted by cotesdurhone at 9:26 AM on April 7, 2010

Response by poster: For more clarification-- let's say Arthur Schopenhauer, or Soren Kierkegaard, or Friedrich Nietzsche, or another multifarious philosopher wanted to publish one of their novella length essays today (not that this one is very similar in style to those of those philosophers, yet, ultimately, it's in the same tradition, vein). Where would they do this?
posted by cotesdurhone at 9:45 AM on April 7, 2010

What exactly do you mean by publications? Journals? Book publishers? I'll assume it's the former...

You're best bet might be to check out the periodical sections of a few university libraries near you. Spend some significant time reading journals in the comp. lit and cultural studies sections - it sounds like your work might find a home in those arenas. You will most likely find more than a few international English language publications.

There isn't a good substitute for doing this kind of grunt work - it's not sexy, but if you're serious about being published you have to do your own research about the kinds of work journals accept. Study their submission guidelines. Study the papers they publish - their tone, spirit, argument, and style. If your work is wide-ranging and peripatetic, find other wide-ranging, peripatetic pieces and follow the bread crumbs to their source.

Be your own taskmaster in deciding whether or not your work falls within the scope of a given journal. You are much more likely to get published if you do the leg work of finding the right fit for your essay/paper/novella whatever.

While you're doing all this shopping ask yourself why you want to publish. Do you think you have something new, interesting and worthwhile to say? Does this conviction hold up against what you've learned doing your research?

I strongly suggest you loosen your expectations of publishing in a "highly esteemed" journal. Yes yes, your work is brilliant, your friends think you're a genius. But you're no Shopenhauer and in the world of "highly esteemed" publications, your peers are other scholars and they get to determine the quality of your work. That's what peer review and/or editorial boards are for.

Do your homework, keep your dreams of grandeur in check. If you want your name to appear in excellent publications, make sure your work is truly excellent.
posted by space_cookie at 12:53 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

ack. Pardon the flagrant misuse of contractions. Sometimes the hands work faster than the brain.

Also, when I say look into comp. lit or cultural studies publications, I mean to look under general and related headings, not necessarily actual sections or strict categories.
posted by space_cookie at 1:14 PM on April 7, 2010

If Montreal interests you, you could try it on Maisonneuve magazine.

If the piece is truly chapbook length, try it on Phoenicia Publishing or VĂ©hicule Press.

Montreal has a thriving small press community. If you think your property is hot enough, publish it yourself and then come sell it at Expozine in the fall.
posted by zadcat at 2:21 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I suspected that simply mentioning names of well known philosophers writing essays in a similar vein would invite such criticisms. But this seemed to be the clearest way of getting the gist across succinctly. As for quality, depth, let other humans (and beings) and time decide... As to what I meant by 'publications,' I was thinking of journals & magazines. But, if there are in fact any book publishers abroad or here that might publish such an essay, would be great to know them... Thanks to all for the suggestions so far
posted by cotesdurhone at 2:33 PM on April 7, 2010

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