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Editor Interview: West Trestle Review

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

A: Inclusive words & art

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

A: BOA Editions, Birdcoat Quarterly, Bracken, Copper Canyon Press, Guesthouse, Lunch Ticket, Normal School, Orion Magazine, Perugia, Sugar House, SWWIM, Terrain, Thimble, Tupelo Press & Quarterly, Waxwing. So many more.

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

A: Poets: Natalie Diaz, Eugenia Leigh, Ada Limón, Abby E. Murray, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Danez Smith, Morgan Parker
Prose: Elizabeth Acevedo, Pam Houston, Rachel Khong, Kiley Reid, Esmé Weijun Wang
Artists: Dawn Beckles, Katherine Case, Micha Darling Henry, May Klisch, Dana Ross, Amy Sherald

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

A: 1. In our Cross-Ties features, contributors are invited to write a short piece celebrating another author or artist who identifies as a woman or as non-binary. It's a way lift each other up.
2. Each of the poems or stories we publish is paired with art; sometimes the art has been created by our featured artist, and sometimes it's created by Molly Dunham, our in-house collage artist.
3. We offer critique on poems or stories for a small fee.
4. We are actively working to be anti-racist, and to that end, we offer free submissions to people of color. We also offer a "Free Submission Sunday" once per issue. Watch for it on social media!
5. Our Fairlies feature highlights a reprint by an author of color.
6. We give shout-outs to our contributors on social media when they have good news to share.
7. Our turnaround time for submissions is fairly quick.

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

A: In the cover letter, we love to hear how people found us and what they like about the magazine. We appreciate when folks follow the guidelines. Sometimes it's really difficult to decline a submission that we admire but that doesn't fit the issue for whatever reason, so if we ask you to send again, know that we mean it. We tend not to publish experimental writing, though we would never rule it out.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: We admire work that makes us think and feel, so the perfect submission would do both. It would look at the world in a way we've never considered. It would also be different from work we've published in recent issues.

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

A: Sometimes we receive submissions from folks who identify as men, and we only publish work by people who identify as women or as non-binary.

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

A: We do appreciate a brief, friendly cover letter. What do you like about WTR? What's the origin story for the pieces that you've sent? Publication credits are unimportant, but we do like to know if folks belong to traditionally marginalized communities.

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

A: At minimum, two editors read every piece through to the end.

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

A: The question we are asking again and again is: Does this piece support our anti-racist mission? That doesn't mean the work needs to be about racism or anti-racism, but we do our best to make sure a diverse range of voices are represented in each issue. We try to consider the way the pieces we accept speak to each other. Also, on occasion, we may ask an author if she is / they are open to making small edits.

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

A: I work full-time, and WTR is a labor of love, so I usually read submissions on my lunch break or outside of work hours, but I try not to comment until the other editors have had a chance to weigh in. All submissions are sent via Submittable, so once a submission has been read, the editor will label it with her name. This is when it appears in the submitter's queue as "in progress." The editors and I have a conversation in the editorial comment section about which pieces we most admire. The editors will often let me know, if we choose to decline, which pieces came close for them, and I pass that information along to the author. When we've chosen to pass on a submission, I try to let the writer know as soon as possible. If we are interested in a submission, it's sometimes placed in a holding pattern until I see how the overall issue is coming together. Either way, I try to respond within three months. I'm a writer sending work into the world, and I am impatient with long response times, too.

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

A: As much as I believe we should all be evangelists for literature, publishers have to do what's right for them and what they can afford. As a writer, I love to have my work published with a journal that has a strong social media presence, but I also understand that some presses don't have the funds or energy to maintain one. I also appreciate when publishers opt out of working with Amazon, but I know that's not an easy decision, and it's not one that, as a publisher, I've ever had to make.

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

A: With poetry, I'd estimate that we ask for small copy or line edits for about 30 percent of the pieces we publish. We ask the author's approval if we'd like to shift a line break or cut a word, but we ask with the understanding that we'll publish the poem even if they choose not to make the change. Our fiction editor spends more time collaborating with authors to edit prose pieces. We send each contributor a PDF of the final web version to approve before it goes live.

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

A: Absolutely! We currently nominate for Pushcart and Best of the Net, and I'm in the process of compiling a full list of awards for writers and artists.