How to get nominated for “The Best American” Series 2012

Amy Bloom’s career launched by “Best American”

Amy Bloom’s career jumpstarted with consecutive publications in The Best American Short Stories. Six years ago, at the Centrum/Port Townsend writers conference, she told a group of us how it happened:

Bloom said she so hated the idea of rejection that she sent her manuscript to the smallest literary  magazine she could find: a women’s collective in Alaska. It became her first-ever fiction publication. They nominated her piece for Best American. 

First publication to Best American rarely happens. So rarely does it happen that Ms. Bloom said she didn’t like to tell the story as it disheartened many not-yet-published writers – especially when followed up by the fact that her second-ever piece published also got picked for Best American.

While few of us can craft a sentence in the way of Ms. Bloom, we can all get ourselves nominated for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Best American Series. You can nominate yourself.

Perhaps more advisable, you can get readers and friends to nominate you. The most effective would be to have an editor nominate you. So … ask.

Eggers: Best American Non-Required Reading

The end-matter of most volumes list the submission requirements (PLUG to buy last year’s edition). As e-mail submissions are not allowed, provide your nominators with hard copies of your publication, and pre-addressed and stamped envelopes.

Here are the editors, by book, for the 2012 Best American series:

  • The Best American Short Stories: Tom Perrotta (novelist)
  • The Best American Essays: David Brooks (New York Times op-ed columnist)
  • The Best American Nonrequired Reading: Dave Eggers (editor of McSweeney’s); introduction by: Ray Bradbury
  • The Best American Travel Writing: William T. Vollmann (author of 17 books)
  • The Best American Science and Nature Writing: Dan Ariely (author of The Upside of Irrationality)
  • The Best American Mystery Stories: Robert Crais (best-selling mystery novelist)
  • The Best American Sports Writing: Michael Wilbon (co-host of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption)

Author: allehall

I am a writer. I write to explore childhood: literary essays and short fiction, journalism, and three haiku. My published work expresses my belief that everything which did or did not happen to me as a child is manifesting in everything that is or is not happening to me today. More importantly, it is also manifesting for my children. I believe funny is the new navel-gazing, and that the best funny keeps a penny's worth of serious in an accessible pocket. Little-known fact: I have a completed novel decorating the inside of a desk drawer. Perhaps it is not funny enough.

5 thoughts on “How to get nominated for “The Best American” Series 2012”

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this. Do you have any information on the editors for the 2013 anthologies? I’m also curious what the yearly nomination deadlines are, but I haven’t been able to find that information online anywhere.

    Thanks so much for making this information available!

  2. Thanks again for these posts, Alle.

    I’ve not found any online information for where to send nominations for the Best American series (I checked the HMH site, google, shelf life, etc) . Past Best Americans had an introduction from the series editor that gave an overview of the volume and an address for sending nominations. My most recent BA, though, is a few years old.

    My best guess is to get copies of the 2011 BA anthologies I’m targeting and check there for addresses/ names of series editors. Is this the best (only?) way to go? Or am I missing something about how to get my essays into the hands of the right editors?


    P.S. I do not assume that magazine editors have this information. In my experience, they are often at a loss for how to get their work recognized by Pushcart, BEst of the Web, BA, etc. Some know, but others need help from a writer.

    1. Hi, Adrienne,

      Look in the end-notes of the previous year’s volume. If the address is not listed, you can send it to Houghton MIfflin Harcourt, to the attention of the appropriate editor, above. You could include an SASE to confirm arrival.

      I have had the same experience with editors at smaller lit. mags: they don’t understand that they can nominate a writer. I feel it is better to be nominated by an editor than my myself. I asked them, and also supplied hard-copies of the piece as well as addressed and stamped envelopes.

      I think it is just as valuable to have a reader send in a nomination. I asked specific readers to nominate me, based on their past appreciation of my work. Again, I supplied hard copies and ready-to-go mailers.

      Good luck for 2011, Adrienne! I have nothing to submit, so I am relying on you to carry Seattle’s banner!


      1. Thanks again Alle.

        It occurs to me that the strategy that works for HMH may also work for Pushcart, Best of the Web (which I think is through Dzanc) and others. So, even if there’s no time to write, there’s always time to do a bit of writer self-marketing.


    2. Good point about additional “lists” to get nominated for.

      I think the Pushcart may be invitation, but it never hurts to 1) ask Pushcart and 2) bring an editor’s attention to your work.


Leave a Reply to allehall Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s