Editor Interview: SPANK the CARP
Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.
Q: What other current publications (or publishers) do you admire most?
A: I admire American Short Fiction because of their focus on the writer, not on themselves as publishers. In site design at least I’ve tried to model their “clean screen” approach. Too many online publications, IMO, seem to want to showcase the editor’s cleverness and artsiness by coming up with clunky and abstruse navigation. Every Day Fiction is another site that’s great looking, simple, and comes across as being writer-centric.
Q: If you publish writing, who are your favorite writers? If you publish art, who are your favorite artists?
A: John Steinbeck, Pearl Buck, and Arthur C. Clarke
Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?
A: SPANK the CARP is totally focused on writers. Every email submission gets a ‘Submission Received’ response. Every reject gets personal feedback. Every accepted piece gets an intro when it appears. Each issue features a very small number of writers. And as I review submissions, I don’t hesitate to ask a writer about their piece. I also let authors know a month in advance of their piece appearing on site. It's all about the writers.
Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?
A: It sounds trite, but read what has already appeared on the site. For example, you won’t find mundane and subtle slice of life fiction, or “literary” soap opera. Nor will you read elitist poetry with obscure references that make readers feel dumb. Write to write, not to impress others. And don’t be afraid to have fun. Humor it up. Write something that’s bonkers but still illustrates a neat idea.
Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?
A: Not including a sentence or two about their submission. I’ve also had several that appear to have come from some automated system, which tells me they haven’t even bothered to visit the site. Even then I’ll still give their piece a review, but ouch!
Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?
A: One or two sentences about your submission, and that’s that. Showing off by trotting out your theories of this or that, or listing the hundreds of publications and awards you’ve won actually turns me off. My personal experience has been that the most talented people in any endeavor, whether it’s literature, music, science, or sports, are usually the most humble.
Q: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?
A: I try to read every piece to the end, but I also consider the ability of a piece to pull me along a definite criteria for acceptance. If by the second page I’m looking to see how many mores pages there are, that’s a bad sign. If a piece loses me early though, I make it a point to skip to the end just to see if something big happens. And even if there’s a glimmer of hope, but I’m not quite convinced, I’ll put the piece away for a week and read it again to give it a second shot.
Q: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?
A: For poetry, I’ll put a poem through what I call the “reads like regular fiction” test. I’ll read the poem as if there were no line breaks. If it still reads okay, then it might as well be fiction. Poetry, to me, needs some kind of lyricism, some kind of sound structure and cadence that sets it apart from a straight fiction piece. I have a feeling many writers and editors are afraid of not sounding academic or “modern” enough so they’re afraid to rhyme a little.
Q: How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?
A: Anything that closes the gap between writer and reader is good by me. Self-publishing is great for that. Of course getting the word out now falls upon the writer for the most part, but that’s ok. Let’s be honest, editors are just gatekeepers, myself included, and the key to the gate is our personal whims. Bottom-line, it’s all subjective, and self-publishing removes that gate, and that’s something to embrace, not look down on.