Editor Interview: Zoetic Press

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

A: non-linear multi-threaded

Q: What other current publications (or publishers) do you admire most?

A: I admire Tor for publishing stuff I've read for years, I admire anyone publishing in Twine (both narratives and games), I love Inkling and Comixology for pushing the boundaries of what an ereader can do. I also love every tiny little press in the world, because they are all run by people who are passionate about words over money.

Q: If you publish writing, who are your favorite writers? If you publish art, who are your favorite artists?

A: That's like asking my favorite food: it changes all the time. This minute, it's Helen Macdonald, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Roberto BolaƱo. Next week, it'll be someone else.

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

A: Right now, we're the only publishers using Lithomobilus, an ereading platform that makes multi-threaded work possible. We're also all about community - our writers are our friends and we encourage them to be each other's support systems and cheerleaders.

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

A: Don't email any of the editors, and for heaven's sake, read the guidelines. I am serious about rejecting out of hand anything that comes in single spaced. I'm too old to want to spend any time squinting at my screen.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: The ideal submission has a cover letter that includes a very short (50-60 word) bio, and very little else. The manuscript is in Times New Roman, double spaced. The piece's relationship with the theme of the issue for which it's being submitted is obvious and clever (it's not just a re-telling of the story, it's not related only tenuously by some vague theme or feeling). If it's nonfiction or nonfiction, the narrative is compelling, the language is clear and precise, the author's use of imagery is apt. If it's poetry, the language is lyrical and beautiful.
That said, I am not the only person reading for Zoetic Press. I am regularly overruled by the rest of the reading staff who like different things than I like.

Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?

A: The thing most often gotten wrong is that people email me personally. While I'm happy to answer questions about Lithomobilus or about what kinds of things Zoetic Press publishes, I am not going to read your pitch via email. If you want to submit your novel for consideration, our submission guidelines are right there on our website where authors can find them and submit via our Submittable page.

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

A: I am not impressed by previous publications or fancy degrees. We've published both first-time authors and award-winning authors in our pages. In fact, I normally don't even read the cover letter until after I've made up my mind about the story itself.
Frankly, I'm a little put off by anyone who seems like they're trying to impress me with their list of authoring credits (we get it, you've published everywhere, that's great) or worse, by name-dropping other authors. There's a difference between "my friend John Smith was published in your first issue and told me my material might be right for you" and "Joan Didion said that my first book was the best thing she's ever read." If your friend is recommending us to you, that's great, and I'm excited. But if you're telling me that someone else is recommending you to to me, I'm capable of making up my own mind.

Q: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?

A: I generally give something 3 or 4 pages. My standard test is this: if, in the first three or four pages, I'm overcome with the urge to check my Facebook page while reading a story, I'll give it a pass. If I can't read it in one sitting without feeling like I need to take a break and do something else, I can't expect my readers to do any differently.

Q: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?

A: Pieces are read and voted on by at least 4 different readers before they're accepted. If we're on the fence about a piece, there's often a discussion where the people who are passionate about it have to advocate for it. There are some pieces about which we're unanimous, and those are the easiest, but if we're not, factors like how well a thing makes use of our unique platform, what audience it's written for, etc. come into play.

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

A: When I'm being Editor me (as opposed to any one of the million other things I do), it looks like having a meeting with my managing editor where we talk about what we're putting in the blog this week, what we're putting in our weekly editor's letter, what projects on in the works and what stage everything's at. I read some stuff and vote on it. Once a month or so, the managing editor and I get together and go over all the things that have been voted on and choose what gets published. And every other month, I get to do that thing where I sit down and cut checks to all the writers for our publications. I have to be honest, that's one of the most fun parts for me.

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

A: There are certain parts of technology, like electronic submissions, that I feel every publisher should make use of. Any publisher who doesn't accept electronic submissions is risking having their stream of submissions dry up as authors consider other presses that don't require the time and expense of paper mail. Online social networking is great for building a community around your press and your authors, but I don't know that it's crucial to success. I think that there is still room for boutique paper printing for projects that can only be done in paper. That said, I think that the possibilities of digital are only just now starting to be revealed, and that people are far more exited by them than by anything being done with paper.