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Editor Interview: North Carolina Literary Review

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

A: provocative NC writing

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

A: Southern Review, Southern Cultures, storySouth, and Algonquin Books. I also appreciate Press 53 of Winston-Salem, NC, for bringing neglected writers like John Ehle back into print.

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

A: As editor of the North Carolina Literary Review, I could get into a lot of trouble for answering this question, so I am going to limit my response to non-NC writers--and say Tim Gautreaux of Louisiana.

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

A: Our unique design

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

A: Read the submission guidelines--and that goes for submitting to any publication. I am regularly surprised by how many people apparently don't consult guidelines. We receive submissions from non-North Carolina writers at least once a month, in spite of all of our guidelines and listings indicating we only publish NC-related writers. I would also ask writers to subscribe to the publications in which they want to see their work published. I realize you can't subscribe to every magazine, but every writer should subscribe to some.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: My favorite submissions are interviews that introduce a new writer and essays that reintroduce a neglected writer. I am also pleased when I notice that a submission comes from someone who supports our publication as a subscriber.

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

A: We still receive some non-NC submissions, some print submissions, and most often, poetry and fiction submitted outside of our contests. In order to spread the reading periods out, we only read creative writing during our various genres' competition periods.

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

A: We request biographical information only for use if we accept the submission for publication and to verify the author's North Carolina connection. Our readers consider the submissions blindly, so only the editor can see the author's publication credits. And we enjoy publishing someone's first story or poem as much as we appreciate the opportunity to publish work by some of North Carolina's literary stars.

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

A: Unless a submission is very poorly written, our readers do read them through to the end.

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

A: For creative writing, we have preliminary screeners with expertise in the genre, and then a final judge selects honorees, which are guaranteed publication.
For other content, we have preliminary screeners and then expert readers for those submissions that make it through screening. The Editor ultimately makes the final decision, although I do not waste my readers' time: if they recommend publication, it is very unlikely that I would then reject a submission. Conversely, if they do not recommend a piece, it is unlikely that I will read it unless the idea of it is particularly appealing to me and the reader perceives some potential after revision. We are willing to work with writers on revising interviews and essays that we like and that fit our special feature section theme.

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

A: Other members of the staff work on the submissions process, so my day is usually spent editing: either working through an essay to insert revision recommendations or reading, rereading, re-re-reading content forthcoming in the next issue. I read and edit it at every stage of production, and at every stage, as the contents looks different on the page (from Word to our publishing program to the designed copy), something different that needs revision reveals itself. Also, I am reading to consider what images will go with the submission.

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

A: When you are trying to work with readers, writers, and staff in various places, of course an electronic submission program and email are valuable tools that save time and money. Facebook has provided visibility, but while we have over 5000 friends on Facebook, I have been disappointed that I have not seen a significant and comparable rise in our subscription base. We added online issues for book reviews and literary news, in response to writers wanting to post their reviews on their Facebook pages and websites, but disappointed those who want us to also publish this content in the print issue, which we cannot afford to do. The online issues also help us to keep the print issue down in size.

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

A: We do "provide substantive editing, line editing, copy editing, and/or basic proofreading." The author gets to approve the final edits.

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

A: The winners of our creative writing contests are included among our Pushcart Prize nominations. We also submit fiction we publish for the O.Henry award. And we select from the creative writing in our online issues for Best of the Net.