Editor Interview: Brewed Awakenings Anthology Series

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

A: Though-provoking content

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

A: Mostly literary journals like Glimmer Train or Midwestern Gothic. It's harder to ID promising small, peer indie presses given how much most of them have transitioned to a vanity-press business model.

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

A: Roger Scruton, G.K. Chesterton, Francis Fukuyama

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

A: We don't assess reading fees and we pay our authors for their work. We also don't bother with themes. If the piece catches our eye--regardless of genre, content or length--we'll pick it up.

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

A: FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT'S HOLY, FIND A BETA READER OR FIVE. We can tell within the first 200 words whether a story has been edited in light of peer reviewers. Stuff that goes straight from the author to the publisher almost always hits the reject pile. There's simply no excuse for myriad grammar errors, bad formatting or violations of elementary rules of English syntax.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: The piece is queried according to our guidelines and is very obviously polished -- when we read it, we can tell that little or no editing will be required.

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

A: Submitters sometimes don't bother to completely digest our editorial guidelines, leading to eminently avoidable reasons for rejection. In particular, our request for separate and properly developed cover letters, synopses and samples -- with the latter two deidentified -- seems to trip up about a third of our submitters.

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

A: We like to understand who we're working with, so a properly developed cover letter that includes a professional history is absolutely relevant. Although our process for evaluating work is blinded, in the event we elect to accept more pieces than we have room to print, the cover letter and author bio will serve as a determining factor in our issuance of acceptance letters.

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

A: Reading depends on submission quality. If a piece fails for technical reasons (misspellings, bad grammar, improper style) we often stop after the first page -- and occasionally, after the first sentence. If the piece fails for structural reasons (too much backstory, imbalanced showing-vs-telling, plot/conflict problems, characterization weakness or POV confusion) we will see it by the middle of the story and stop there. If we read to the end, we're probably amenable to it, unless the very end contains a poorly executed twist.

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

A: We accept/reject pieces internally on the first pass. If we accept more than we have room to print, we rank-order them based on length, diversity of content and relative difficulty of editing. Very long or very short pieces, or work that we think has merit but also has a lot of room for improvement, usually don't pass the second review.

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

A: Submissions appear in waves -- sometimes a lot, sometimes a little -- so it's not always easy to settle into a cadence. In addition to the "Brewed Awakenings" anthology, I also serve as publisher and fiction editor of "The 3288 Review," a quarterly journal of arts and letters. And I also oversee all long-form queries (novels, textbooks) and serve as project editor on a few novels. So on any given day, I'll manage intake for some pieces and read/vote on others while managing the edits for a few bigger works. Because we're a small indie press, all of us have non-literary day jobs, so usually one or two evenings per week and one or both weekend days are spent attending to our editorial duties. It can be chaotic and unpredictable.

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

A: We struggle the most with authors who fail to grasp the revolution in publishing economics over the last decade. We still occasionally receive print bundles in the mail, questions about initial print runs and reliance on the Track Changes feature in Word. Yet were it not for our social-media network and POD services, we simply could not exist. And as we use modern project-management tools to manage editorial workflow and we move away from Microsoft Word toward plain-text, Markdown documents that allow for easy interoperability between InDesign and EPUB builders, we find that our technological edge is the only thing that's kept us viable as a small indie press.

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

A: If a piece requires substantial editing, we will not accept it. In general, we engage in basic line editing -- fixing punctuation/grammar errors, and occasionally substituting synonyms or rewriting awkward sentences. Anything else, and we won't accept the piece in the first place. Authors don't get to approve the final edits, but they do get a chance to "proof the galleys" and offer additional revision suggestions. Our editing philosophy is to do minimal harm to the original work, so we have yet to have a situation where we experienced significant conflict with an author over our edits.