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Editor Interview: upstreet: a literary magazine

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

A: Fiction, CNF, poetry

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

A: Favorite writers are Alice Munro, Joan Didion, Jhumpa Lahiri...the list is long. upstreet doesn't publish artwork.

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

A: That's a hard question to answer; in fact, I'm not sure I have a good answer.

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

A: Read the submission guidelines, and follow them. If you want to know what kind of fiction/nonfiction upstreet publishes, get a copy of the journal and read it.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: The ideal submission is a short story or essay that has no typos, misspellings, grammatical errors, or punctuation errors, and that grabs the reader within the first two pages and holds the reader's interest all the way to the end. There are surprisingly few submissions that meet that description.

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

A: Many submitters want to know why their submission was rejected. In other words, they don't realize that rejected submissions have usually not been read analytically, the way a writing teacher reads and student's work. In fact, most of the time the rejected submission hasn't even been read to the end.

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

A: Not really; in fact, the person reading the submission usually doesn't see the cover letter. The only one who can see it is me (the Editor/Publisher).

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

A: I can usually tell if the piece is right for upstreet within the first two pages or so. It is very unusual for me to read a submission all the way to the end (and I advise the other readers to follow the same practice).

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

A: A piece is usually read by an Assistant Editor, who says Yes, No, or Maybe. Yes and Maybe submissions are then read by the Fiction or CNF Editor. All pieces approved at that level are then read by the Editor/Publisher.

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

A: I'm not sure what you're looking for with this question. We get a lot of submissions--for the current issue, 1,461 short stories and 382 essays--and I try to keep things moving along as quickly as possible, so that people don't have to wait months to hear from us. (If it has been months, the piece is probably shortlisted and awaiting further evaluation.) I assign stories and essays to readers at the Assistant Editor level; the Fiction and CNF Editor also read at that "first reader" level, and so do I, if I think things are piling up too much. How many stories/essays each reader reads per week varies; I encourage people not to let the mss. pile up, but to spread out the workload over time.

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

A: I find the electronic submission system very convienient (as it obviously is for the writers), but I have chosen to keep upstreet a print journal and only include some sample content on the website. If I had to publish upstreet as an online journal, I would lose interest completely and stop producing it.

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

A: It depends (obviously). I always do line/copy editing; I've never seen a perfect manuscript. If more revision is required, the author is usually consulted.

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

A: I send every copy of upstreet to the Best American anthologies (Short Stories, Essays, Poetry, Nonrequired Reading), and to the O. Henry Prize Stories. I also make annual nominations to Pushcart and Best New Poets, and to any other awards/anthologies I become aware of.