Editor Interview: University of Hell Press
Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.
A: Irreverent works
Q: What other current publications (or publishers) do you admire most?
A: Write Bloody Publishing, Punk Hostage Press, Civil Coping Mechanisms, HYPERtext Magazine, Nailed, Octopus Books, Black Ocean Press, H_NGM_N Books,
Binary Star, Soft Skull, Manic D, TimberMouse, Elephant Rock Books, Dzanc, Akashic...and more.
Q: If you publish writing, who are your favorite writers? If you publish art, who are your favorite artists?
A: (To be clear, these are my personal faves - University of Hell Press has plenty of favorite authors, including ALL of ours, in the world): Junot Diaz, TC Boyle, Mary Roach, Mary Karr, Joan Didion, Alice Munro, Brian S Ellis, Dave Eggers, Patti Smith, MFK Fisher, Raymond Carver, Sam Shepard, Arthur Rimbaud, Rich Perin, Tom Richards, Maurice Sendak, George Orwell, Colm Toibin, and far too many more to list.
Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?
A: University of Hell Press authors offer a raw view of their varied world experiences. They expose themselves intimately, completely, often with humor and always with irreverence. They provide snapshots of the horrific, the sensory, the mundane, with beautifully constructed linguistic imagery.
Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?
A: When we open the submissions period again (probably late 2017), please read about us on all social media channels BEFORE submitting. Make certain you understand who we are and who we publish to determine if your work might fit. When you submit a solid manuscript (no works in progress, please), also include an appropriate "cover letter" (via email) that showcases you know who we are and what we do and who we publish, provides us with a snapshot of your work and personality, and mentions directly why you think your work might be a good addition to our roster. If you met us at a conference or lit event, remind us! If someone we know encouraged you to submit, share that info! Copy edit and read your letter of intent out loud before hitting SEND.
Q: Describe the ideal submission.
A: The ideal submission grabs our attention right away - and holds it throughout the manuscript. No matter the genre, no matter the style, it's clear from the get-go that the author loves language and uses it to provoke, inspire, intimate, define, defend, entertain, feel, empathize, craft, build, suspend, and more. Work that catches our eyes derives from a strong point of view, offers a unique perspective, and demonstrates a voice or tone that perhaps is yet unheard. The ideal submission delivers interesting, well-developed ideas, is powerfully executed, is copy edited, and allows us to say WOW.
Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?
A: The most often-occurring submissions infractions include manuscripts that are:
* NOT aligned with our vision or mission
* NOT "finished" or well-developed works
* NOT unique in point of view or voice
* NOT copy edited
Authors who miss the mark also tend to write inappropriate / incomplete messages of intent, clearly haven't read or even know about the authors on our roster, and are randomly sending their work to multiple presses only to see who will bite (rather than doing their due diligence beforehand).
Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?
A: We LOVE getting to know authors via their cover letters / emails of intent. It's another great way to showcase communication skills, writing prowess, personality. These treatises need not be full volumes, but merely a snapshot of who you are, why you write, why you think you'd be a good fit, why / how University of Hell Press even caught your eye in the first place. Connect, people! It's relatively easy. A list of previous publications helps to catch our eyes, too. Submitters need not send a full cv, but if you've got a nice web presence or social media profile, and a rockin' publications list, we do indeed look at those.
Q: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?
A: For the first six years of operation, we prided ourselves on reading EVERY submission in its entirety. Now that we've got a full production queue (through 2017), our resources are taxed with focusing on tremendously good work. Our last open submissions period overwhelmed our small but mighty screening corps of editors; we had to make the hard decision to read at least 30% of a manuscript before outright dismissing it. Sometimes we just know right away, either way, but it's important to be surprised (also, either way).
Q: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?
A: When an editor / reader greenlights a manuscript, it is discussed with other editors and me, the managing editor. Once all agree on the potential merits of a project, the author is assigned a primary editor (and, later, a copy editor). The primary editor works closely with the author to move the project towards the contract stage. We learn a lot about working together in this preliminary phase - in particular, the author's working style, personality, and other subtle indicators that showcase if they really are the right fit for the press.
Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?
A: When moving through the submissions queue, I read quickly and carefully, without my true editor's brain activated (challenging!). It's important to absorb the work, noticing top-level, big ideas elements, and also gain a sense of the author's point of view, core messages, voice, and language use. If a manuscript is truly engaging, no matter what, I read it in its entirety; if it's not close, I cut bait about 30% in, and usually skim the rest of the contents to corroborate my position. After reviewing, I jot down general notes and observations to make the case for or against moving forward with the manuscript. I then share these notes with my other editors. Once we've all read about three manuscripts each, we quickly discuss our notes, and decide which manuscripts to greenlight.
Q: How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?
A: It's important for publishers to do what they want to do, how they want to do it, in a way that works for their style, goals, and mission.
We embrace tools and technologies that make all elements of the publishing process easier (e.g., POD publishing options, social media networking, crowd-sourced resource sharing, online book reviewing, and more). We're in the process of updating our website so we can run our own merch store. We plan to take submissions electronically in our next open submissions period. We're also looking to e-books in the future (and yet LOVE holding a real book in our hands).