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Editor Interview: The Sun Magazine

Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.

A: Brave, unflinching work.

Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?

A: The Sun is supported entirely by its readers; we carry no advertisements. We also have about seventy thousand subscribers, which is significantly higher than most literary magazines. And we pay writers fairly for their work: between $300 and $2,000 for fiction and nonfiction, and $100 to $250 for poetry.

Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?

A: Writers are accustomed to hearing this advice, perhaps even tired of it, but it’s important: read the magazine. Not doing so, and submitting something that is a bad fit with the publication to which you’re submitting, simply wastes the effort you’ve taken with the piece.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: To quote our editor and founder, Sy Safransky: “I’m looking for a writer who doesn’t know where her sentence is leading her; a writer who starts with her obsessions and whose heart is bursting with love; a writer sly enough to give the slip to her secret police, the ones with the power to condemn in the blink of an eye. It’s all right that she doesn’t know what she’s thinking until she writes it, as if the words already exist somewhere and draw her to them. She may not know how she got there, but she knows when she’s arrived.”

Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?

A: In many ways, the cover letter is the least important part of the submission. If we like a piece, we would never reject it simply because of a sloppy cover letter or a dearth of publication credits. In fact, we’d be excited about publishing an excellent “unknown” writer. My advice for cover letters is that less is more: if you have some publications, please let us know about them, but you don’t need to do much more than that.

Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?

A: The Sun has a team of six readers who do the first round of evaluating unsolicited submissions. If a reader feels a piece has the potential to appear in the magazine, the submission is passed along to another reader. If the second reader concurs, the piece is passed along to our editorial staff. From there, the piece may work its way up to our editor, who has the final say as to what appears in the magazine. Our editor, readers, and other members of the editorial staff meet once a month to discuss any pieces that our editor is unsure about.

Q: How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?

A: We try to accommodate both. We’ve only recently begun accepting submissions online, and have overhauled our website to make it readable on all devices, including smartphones and tablets. With that said, we still accept postal submissions, and much of the work of editing the magazine is still done on paper.

Q: How much do you edit an accepted piece prior to publication?

A: We edit everything that appears in the magazine, sometimes quite heavily. Our aim is to make the piece more concise and clearer to our readers. Authors have final approval on any and all changes.

Q: Do you nominate work you've published for any national or international awards?

A: Yes. We nominate writing from The Sun for the Pushcart Prize, as well as any of the Best American collections that might apply to what we’ve published in a given year, including Best American Short Stories, Best American Essays, Best American Sports Writing, Best American Nonrequired Reading and Best American Spiritual Writing. We’ve also nominated authors for other accolades, including the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award.