Skip to Content

Editor Interview: Pidgeonholes

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

A: The bold/odd/foreign.

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

A: I love publications that have a strong devotion to diversity, their literary aesthetic, and creating a beautiful publication. This means I spend as much time reading hole-in-the-wall, small, or medium publications like After the Pause, Synaesthesia, freeze frame fiction, Lockjaw, The Harpoon Review, and similar zines as I do reading more established publications like Strange Horizons, Lakeside Circus, or Hobart. I have great respect for poetry from places like Stone Telling, Liminality, and Goblin Fruit.

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

A: Jonathan Carroll, China MiƩville, Haruki Murakami, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Michel Faber. Yoon He Lee, Emily St. John Mandel, and M. John Harrison. Alyssa Wong and Ada Hoffmann.

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

A: There are a lot of publications that put out experimental, bizarre, or strange material. I think we have found a balance between the genre and the literary as well as between the experimental and the approachable.

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

A: Follow the guidelines: write fearlessly, submit fearlessly.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: Ideally, the submitting author will have read some of our published pieces to get an idea of whether their work will be a good fit or not. On my end, I look for three things in each submission: foreignness, work that understands itself, and staying power. If the work has at least one of these three, I'll definitely consider it. If you're from a country outside the USA, if you're from a unique social or cultural background, if you identify as part of the QUILTBAG community, if you are somehow "othered" in your life, or if your work touches on any of these perspectives, it definitely meets the "foreignness" criteria. If you send me something experimental, where the form and theme and language compliment each other instead of convoluting each other, it definitely meets the "work that understands itself" criteria. If you send me a work that ends with a real gut punch instead of a punch-line, a work that keeps me thinking for days or weeks, it meets the "staying power" criteria.

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

A: The email subject line. A fiction submission should include "Fiction Submission" in the subject line, and a poetry submission should include "Poetry Submission" in the subject line. It really helps keep submissions organized and prevents them from getting lost in a busy inbox.

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

A: A cover letter that follows the submission guidelines is a big indicator to me of whether or not the author is serious about seeking publication. If the author wants to include a quick line or two about a piece we've published that they enjoyed or about how they heard of the magazine, I won't complain, but I don't want to see a life story or a million publication credits. I don't distinguish between authors on the prestige of previous publications, nominations, or awards. I want a brief, third-person biographical statement, suitable for being published with an accepted work.

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

A: I absolutely read every submission from start to finish, even if something about it doesn't work for me. There are things that can be fixed with rewrite requests, and I am happy to work with authors who really want to find a home for their writing in our publication.

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

A: If the piece is well written, fits the general aesthetic of the quarter I'm reading for, follows the guidelines, and fits at least one of the primary criteria I'm looking for, it stands a fair shot at acceptance. If there are minor technical or story issues, I work through as many revisions as it takes until both the author and I are satisfied.

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

A: I have a real life beyond editing, and I try to spend most of my time there, with my wife and kids. We work, we hike, we blow bubbles, we have Netflix binges, we cook together, and at the end of the day I log in to read, respond to submissions, and work on the current quarterly volume. Sometimes this is fifteen minutes, sometimes it's three hours. Those long nights can be emotionally exhausting, filled with the excitement of a new acceptance, being rocked by an emotionally charged piece, or having to send numerous rejections. Despite the effort involved, I wouldn't trade the experience for anything; there is no other way I would get to meet, build relationships with, and find ways to support such an amazing pool of talent.

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

A: As in all things, I think there should be a balance. We process submissions via email. While a system like Submittable may streamline things, I like the more traditional aspect of managing everything "by hand", as much as possible in this digital age. Publication happens via website and ISSUU, both of which offer numerous ways to share each piece on social media. Without such technology, readership would stagnate instead of growing each month, and the pool of authors would be much more limited.