How Much Do We Know About Glimmer Train?

I confess...I've submitted to Glimmer Train 4 times. If I actually got accepted, would I still be here? Part of the lure of Glimmer Train is the big money it gives out: $500-$1000+. It's also critically praised, though we don't exactly know why.

Blake Butler over at HTMLGiant asked a bunch of writers about what they know of this literary magazine giant. Some interesting answers:
it’s run by two sisters
i used to submit there but don’t anymore
it pays a lot per story
i always see issues of it around student lounges, etc.
when i try to read it i usually get bored, but i remember one or two stories from issues over the years that i’ve enjoyed
most of the stories i remember involve families and identities, e.g. why i do i have to care for my indian father if i’m only half-indian
one time an old nudist in mt shasta city told me he was angry with Glimmer Train because he submitted a story to them that literally involved glimmering trains but they rejected it
every now and then someone i know will be one of the 25 finalists in one of the many contests they run and then everyone will congratulate them on facebook
i submitted my favorite story from LLF there (Snow You Know and Snow You Don’t), but they rejected it. American Short Fiction later published it. that was the last time i submitted to glimmer train.
- Mike Young

I’ve been rejected by Glimmer Train at least 4 times probably. I submitted to them in 2006 I think. They paid $500 per story I think. They had an elaborate contest thing, like 10 different contents. There was, like, a bracket for certain age groups and was as specific as like 500 to 1000 words then 1000 to 4000 words or something like that. I remember learning it was run by sisters and I feel like I read “their story” on the Glimmer Train website and it seemed written in the style of two brothers or a family starting their own farm to sell their own yogurt or something. I’ve probably bought 1 to 3 issues of Glimmer Train, from a Border’s or Barnes & Noble in Florida when I was 20 or 21 probably. I think I remember seeing in their issues that at some point almost like half the accepted submissions were by people with really Chinese names like Xu Liang or Xiu Leung or something. I viewed this as Chinese parents having forced their children to learn how to write a story that Glimmer Train will accept and their children, through hard work, succeeding and the editors of Glimmer Train feeling helpless. Feel like they have definitely published the most Chinese people percentage-wise for a literary magazine in America edited by Caucasians, I think. I have not looked at Glimmer Train’s website since perhaps 2007. I think from 2009 to a few weeks ago I forgot about it almost completely but then read about it in one of Blake’s tweets. Upon remembering Glimmer Train I also remembered, later, Crazy Horse and Epoch. Feel like I really wanted to be in Epoch. I’m not sure if it still exists. I think Crazy Horse paid $250 a story. Glimmer Train’s covers all use the same design I think. It’s like a black rectangle with a white-based center area and it seems Christmas-y I think. Glimmer Train seems interesting. I feel like there should’ve been some very long feature article in New York Times Magazine or something by now about Glimmer Train. I keep imagining being forced to read every issue of Glimmer Train. There’s probably more than 200 issues so maybe 4000 stories. I feel interested in someone “looking into” their notably “Chinese-heavy” issues. Not sure if I may have exaggerated the Chinese thing over time or if maybe actually one issue was specifically only for non-Americans or something. Just remember Night Train. I think Night Train rejected one of the stories in “Bed” with a short, personal note. I remember really wanting to be published by Three Penny Review for an amount of time.
- Tao Lin

Hi Blake,
I don’t know jack-shit about Glimmer Train.
Thank you.
- Mike Topp

To be honest, I've only read about 5 stories over two years from Glimmer Train. Despite some okay stories, most are average. Kids, this safe fiction. Something you can show your mom and MFA teacher. The writers do what they're taught to do, and there is no one published there who is significant (for example, Blake Butler). This is what you get when you have two sisters who look like the really want to be taken seriously by Oprah and a very special teacher from their MFA program.

This, however, doesn't stop me from working on a submission for them. It's a regular story that doesn't take a lot of risk in terms of prose styling.

I need money.

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