Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Topic: Just for Laughs

10-second review: College Composition and Communication, a quarterly publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) used to have a column each issue entitled Jeu d’Esprit in which writers made fun of anything related to English teaching. This particular column, published in December of 1977, was on the subject of how to get yourself published if you are desperate not to perish. It’s a howl!

Title: "Ten Ways to Get an Article Published." Gary Sloan. College Composition and Communication (December 1977), 387-389.A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).


1. Posthumous Cover Letter to the editor in which you indicate that your friend (you) has died and this is his last publication.

2. Paper Deluge. Send one hundred copies of your article to the same journal, one a day. The editor should get tired of mailing off rejection letters.

3. By-passing the Middle Man. Send your manuscript directly to the printer. He’s likely t think it came from the editor.

4. The Gratuitous Loot Strategem. Attach a 100-dollar bill to the manuscript and say you found it in the teacher’s lounge and you thought it was his.

5. Reconnoitering the Editor. Find out from his colleagues what the editor’s tastes are. If he’s a womanizer, attach a picture of a gorgeous blond to your manuscript in case “he needs it for the biographical section.”

6. The Prospective College Ruse. Attach to the cover letter of your manuscript that you’re probably hired to be in the editor’s department. He won’t want any negative relationships in his department.

7. The Prospective Editorship Ruse. Attach a P.S. to the cover letter that you’re going to be the next editor of Harper’s or any other prestigious journal. The editor will want a shot at the big time.

8. The Telephonic Subterfuge. Hire an impressionist who can do David Letterman on the phone. Tell the editor that he’s got a good shot at being on his show and oh, by the way, he has this friend (you) who is submitting a manuscript.

9. The Direct Approach. In your best Humphrey Bogart clothes and hat stick your finger in the editor’s chest and snarl, “The boss says you should maybe publish this.”

10. The pseudonym. Sign your manuscript with a very famous name, like Noam Chomsky, etc. That’ll impress him.

Comment: College Composition and Communication has become very staid in recent years. The writers for the journal in the 1970s could really write and entertain at the same time. They used to write clearly, succinctly and to the point. But recent editors scrapped columns like Jeu d’Esprit and much of the fun went out of the journal. Now the writers seem to vie for the longest and most boring article prize in academia. RayS.

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