Editor Interview: The Los Angeles Review/LAR Online
Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.
A: fine craft, fresh ideas
Q: What other current publications (or publishers) do you admire most?
A: Hayden's Ferry Review, Indiana Review, Tin House, Rattle
Q: If you publish writing, who are your favorite writers? If you publish art, who are your favorite artists?
A: It's easy to see which authors we admire, as each issue of The Los Angeles Review is dedicated to a writer we love. Our dedications include Wanda Coleman, John Rechy, Ron Carlson, Judy Grahn, Juan Felipe Herrera, Ishmael Reed, Bruce Holland Rogers, Eloise Klein Healey, and others.
Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?
A: As each issue of The Los Angeles Review is dedicated to an important West Coast writer, each issue is informed by that writer's body of work. Also, as a West Coast publication, we are interested in publishing work that pushes boundaries and speaks to readers outside the eastern literary scene or the academic community; we're a journal for lovers of literature, and we bring our readers the best from across the country and across the globe. We also feature an extensive book reviews section, critical articles, and interviews. Finally, our journal values gender parity, and we publish equal proportions of male and female writers in each issue.
Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?
A: Of course, we'd love submitters to read an issue before sending work to us. Additionally, we always hope that our submitters' work will surprise us, thrill us, and make us wish we'd written it ourselves; we encourage writers to send us not only well crafted work, but work that excites.
Q: Describe the ideal submission.
A: An ideal submissions follows our submission guidelines, maintains a polite tone in its cover letter and any correspondence with our editors, fits the spirit of our issue's dedication, and knocks our socks off in its craftsmanship and content.
Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?
A: We receive a number of submissions that fail to follow simple steps in our guidelines (such as including the word count of a fiction piece in the submission's title). Authors may not realize that each of our guidelines is meant to help expedite the process of reading and responding to submissions; ignoring or overlooking our guidelines only slows down our readers and delays a response to the submission.
Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?
A: We like cover letters that name a few publications in which an author has placed work, or that mention where the author studied; it's interesting to know where an author's writing from. We don't, however, need a curriculum vitae or a similar level of detail, nor do we need gratuitous information about the author's personal life. A concise, polite cover letter that is addressed to the correct editor and that demonstrates a bit of personality shows us that an author is professional and approachable. That's the kind of author we like to work with.
What really makes us sit up and take notice of a cover letter, though, is a writers's telling us (truthfully!) that he or she has read an issue, enjoyed a particular piece, and thinks the work in the submission will be a fit for our current needs. We love getting submissions from our readers.
Q: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?
A: Each of our editors reads a bit differently. One may give a fiction manuscript two pages, another might read a poem twice. The submitter's best bet is to grab our attention right away.
Q: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?
A: Each poem that passes our initial screening process is read by a second editor, and our fiction submissions are read by as many as five individuals. In some cases, if we enjoy a piece but feel it needs some additional work, we may also contact the writer to gauge his or her level of interest in working with us on a revision. We generally complete the revision process with the author before we issue a final acceptance.
Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?
A: We receive an enormous quantity of submissions for each issue, which is exactly the sort of problem an editor wants to have. Every day, I triage the submissions coming into our system, and assign them to appropriate editors for reading. I myself read between 30 and 50 submitted poems on an average day, scanning the cover letter before reading through each submission. Every time I approach pile of work before me, I'm hoping for a stunning piece to emerge. I'm truly rooting for the writer to pull off such an exciting poem that I have to call my fellow poetry editor immediately and say, "you've got to read this." In reality, that moment occurs a handful of times each reading period, but every day I read the work, I'm hoping for it.
Q: How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?
A: We're a journal that believes in the permanence of print, and of the importance of preserving the print journal in ever digitizing world. We do agree that it's important to broaden our reach through social media and to expedite our reading process through online submissions, but our print journal is at the heart of our mission.