Many thanks to Joyce Maynard, who took the time to answer my email on publication day of her new novel LABOR DAY. (Run. Buy. Read. Writers need to support each other.)
Joyce says: The best way to get an essay into Modern Love is to write a great essay.
She writes: “although my name is known, and i have a book coming out, i don't
believe this was a factor in the case of my submission, which came in
over the transom like everyone else's, unagented.
in fact, it's my belief that the Times probably prefers publishing
new , unknown writers in this space , when they can find a really good
So this calls into question my recent paranoid fantasy about how agents and publicists are hogging all the Modern Love slots.
In truth, while Joyce’s essay may have come over the transom like everyone else’s, she’s being a little modest (in my opinion) when she says her name is “known.” I was born and raised in New York and I’ve lived most of my professional life here. To say Joyce is known to the New York Times readership is an understatement. Joyce is the author of a seminal New York Times Magazine story. And she’s gone on to many other Times bylines. So she’s not just known. She’s one of their voices. When you’re sending your essay over the transom, a track record like Joyce’s can’t hurt.
That said, her advice hits home. The trick to success as a writer is great writing.