Editor Interview: Madcap Review

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

A: That thing you like.

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

A: I like a little bit of everything. The Paris Review has my favorite interviews, but mostly I pick up copies of lit journals on a whim. I've been very impressed with Caketrain and Zyzzyva, and a little piece of my heart goes out to LUMINA. I have friends working on No Tokens, The Boiler Journal, Storyscape, and Yes, Poetry, among others, so I try to read those whenever I can. For art I turn to Hi Fructose and VNA.

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

A: Vladimir Nabokov, Charles Bukowski, Sylvia Plath, Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Jonathan Franzen, Anthony Burgess.

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

A: It's been our goal from the start to give visual work a real voice in Madcap. We're passionate about art, especially street art, and want to convince more artists to submit to lit journals. We also don't restrict the content of submissions. Great writing can be set in outer space or deal with magic. We feel that many lit journals limit themselves by excluding genre fiction, and we want writers to know we respect them, universally. And finally, we'll never charge authors and artists to submit to Madcap Review. They're our lifeblood, even more important than the readers, and we've never felt comfortable with the idea of charging reading fees. That type of practice creates class and age bias and we want no part of it. We're writers, artists, and aficionados. We just want to share the best possible work with whichever audience shows up. That means keeping an open mind.

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

A: Make sure the work is finished, that you're proud of it. You don't have to read a past issue before you submit, but we do hope you'll read it once we've accepted your work!

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: Impossible. Send us the ideal submission and we'll know it for what it is, but we can't set out guidelines.

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

A: Our submitters are pretty savvy people, but occasionally they ignore submission guidelines and send too many pieces at once or respond negatively to a rejection letter. The submission guidelines are on the site for a reason. Follow them and we'll be happy.

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

A: We look at cover letters after we read the submissions, so by that point it's just additional information to help us get to know you a little better. An MFA degree or a list of impressive publications won't sway us. If the piece is right, we'll take it. If not, sorry. We don't need your life story, and though it's flattering to hear praise for past issues, sucking up is just as likely to leave a negative impression as a positive one. Be professional in every aspect of your submission and you'll have our respect.

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

A: It varies by submission and by editor. Sometimes we read through a whole piece and decide it doesn't pop enough. Other times we know it's not right by the end of the first page. If we want to put the story down after a few paragraphs, it's likely that other readers will feel the same way. I don't know a single editor who reads every word of every submission they receive. It's less a matter of respect than one of practicality.

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

A: As the Editor in Chief, I talk the pieces over with my editors and readers. If one of us really fights for a piece, the rest of us listen, take notes, and re-read. It's a real group effort. If a piece we've been debating is ultimately left out of the journal, we typically write a personalized rejection praising the merits of the piece, and explaining why we decided not to take it.

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

A: I read every submission, so I'm constantly in contact with each of my editors and readers. We'll talk about certain stories, get a feel for what everyone's thinking, and eventually come to a decision. It's a lot of work, but we're happy to do it.

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

A: Modern technology has made Madcap Review, and several thousand other lit journals, a possibility. The website, our social media accounts, and our submission manager have all made this process much easier and much more affordable. I know the same is true for writers as well. We were able to bring in artists and writers from around the world. Our site has been viewed by 40% of the countries in the world. Could we have achieved the same visibility 30 years ago? 20? Even 10? Probably not. Let's keep moving forward.