Editor Interview: The Forge Literary Magazine

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

A: Thought-provoking prose

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

A: wigleaf, FriGG, Hobart, Santa Monica Review, Monkeybicycle, Matchbook, Necessary Fiction, American Short Fiction, One Story, Michigan Quarterly Review, Confrontation, and New Letters among many others.

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

A: The tastes of our editors is quite diverse, and we couldn't really come up with a definitive list. Among our favorites, however, are:
Elizabeth Stroud
Hilary Mantel
Anthony Doerr
George Saunders
and Roxane Gay, who is one of our great heroes for the grace that she brings to everything she does.

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

A: Being writers ourselves, one of our goals is to be as author-friendly as we can. To this end, we respond quickly, provide feedback when possible, and we pay for accepted work.

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

A: We are a new publication, but we do have high standards. Please send us your very best work.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: We feel that the best literature manages to include excellence in all aspects: originality, plotting and pace, interesting writing and thoughtful themes.
We tend not to favor endings with big twists or punchlines, cliches and tropes, and typos.
Make us feel something, whether it's sadness, hilarity or joy.

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

A: We read anonymously, and so we ask that any identifying information be removed from submitted manuscripts. This is the thing that authors most frequently neglect to do.

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

A: We read all of our submissions anonymously. We don't want our evaluation of a manuscript to be swayed either by a writer's earlier successes or the fact that they are unpublished. Most of our readers don't even have access to the cover letters, and we like it that way.

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

A: We try to read every piece to the end. I think we are all optimists at heart--we want a story to succeed. And even if it seems like things are going badly, we all hold out hope that the author will pull it out in those last paragraphs.

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

A: Our editorial process is a little bit different from most publications. We assign each story to two readers. A reader can vote "yes", "no", or "maybe". If a story gets at least one maybe it is sent to a third reader. One yes or two maybes will see the story sent on to the editors at large. These stories form the pool from which our Editors of the Month make their selections.

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

A: Reading the slush, hoping for gems.

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

A: We are an online-only journal, so in one sense at least we have embraced technology. We accept only electronic submissions, and we tweet and use Facebook to promote our writers. However, we recognize that technology is a double-edged sword--it can be either empowering or alienating. We try to take the best pieces--technology's reach and ease of information dissemination--while minimizing its more unfortunate effects.

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

A: This varies widely, depending on the piece and the editor. Most work is accepted as-is, with standard proofreading being the our only intervention in a manuscript. However sometimes we get a story that is teetering right on the edge of greatness, and in that case one of our editors might choose to work with the author to tighten things up a bit. Of course, the author gets the final say in whatever is eventually published.

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

A: Yes. We nominate our favorite work for the Pushcart, Best of the Net, the Best American series, and the Million Writers award.