In late September, One Story, Inc. was contacted by a writer concerned about similarities between a story she had submitted to One Story and a piece One Story had recently published, written by a former volunteer reader for the magazine. One Story, Inc. immediately launched a review and is currently evaluating all aspects of the situation and soliciting outside advice. At this point in the process, we decided a public statement was merited.
One Story, Inc. is a small, Brooklyn-based non-profit literary publisher. Our flagship magazine, One Story, receives approximately 10,000-12,000 short story submissions each year. From these submissions, One Story selects 12 stories to publish. One Story relies on volunteer readers (about 10-12 people) to aid the editors in this winnowing process. Readers are assigned 15 stories per week to read and are required to send at least one story each week to an editor for additional review.
While One Story readers are volunteers, there is an application process for these positions. Applicants are evaluated both on their ability to identify work suitable for the magazine and their ability to discuss the work of others with sensitivity and kindness. One Story readers meet with the editorial team on a bimonthly basis and often volunteer to assist One Story, Inc. staff in running public events.
Sara Batkie joined One Story, Inc. in May 2009 as a summer intern. When her internship was complete, she remained a part of the One Story team, donating her time as a reader and volunteer until August of 2016.
Since its founding in 2002, One Story’s policy is not to publish writing by any current editors, volunteers, or readers. However, the magazine does allow former volunteers and readers to submit their work for evaluation after a waiting period of at least one year.
In the fall of 2017, Batkie submitted her short story “Departures” to Patrick Ryan, editor in chief of One Story. This story was accepted for publication and published by One Story in May 2018.
On Sept. 25, 2018, One Story, Inc. was contacted by a submitter to the magazine, Sarah Jane Cody, who was concerned about similarities between a story she had submitted to One Story in December 2015, titled “An Invitation,” and Sara Batkie’s short story “Departures.”
After checking our database and records, One Story discovered that Sara Batkie had been a reader for Sarah Jane Cody’s story, “An Invitation.” These records indicated that after reading Cody’s submission, Batkie forwarded the story to One Story’s editors for additional evaluation. The editors decided to decline the story, and a message was sent to Sarah Jane Cody on April 21, 2016, with an encouraging note and a request to send more work.
While One Story, Inc. cannot speak to intentionality and while some circumstances remain unclear, the similarities in plot, aforementioned timeline, and conversations with both writers have led us to take Sarah Jane Cody’s concern very seriously.
The submission process for any literary magazine involves trust. Trust on the part of the magazine that writers are submitting their own original work, and trust on the part of the writers that the magazine will evaluate their work fairly and treat it with respect. One Story exists because of that trust.
We expect it may take some time before we have a full understanding of this matter. In the meantime, One Story will be suspending any additional sales or promotion of “Departures.”
We would like to thank Sarah Jane Cody for bringing this matter to our attention. We know it could not have been easy to do so.
One Story is grateful to all our readers, writers, donors, and submitters for the trust and support they have given to us over the years. We hope to continue to earn and strengthen that trust as we move forward.
Maribeth Batcha & Hannah Tinti
One Story Co-Founders
To contact One Story about this matter, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.