Editor Interview: The Fiction Pool

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

A: Bold, brave, rebellious

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

A: Bare Fiction Magazine, Stinging Fly, Open Pen, PANK, Smokelong Quarterly

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

A: At the moment Sally Rooney, June Caldwell, George Saunders, Melissa Lee Houghton and Jenni Fagan. Overall there are too many to mention!

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

A: We publish large beautiful images alongside new writing as well as more experienced writers. We encourage under represented writers to apply and will spend more time assessing their submissions before a decision is made.

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

A: Read the website. If you are submitting flash be aware this is the most popular submission we receive so take care to make it different, edit it thoroughly and read what has already been published.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: The ideal submission would consist of a short note in the email body - not enough to distract me but the bare bones like 'I'm a BAME writer here is my story'. The submission would be edited and polished to a very high standard. A separate bio would be attached in word form so I wouldn't be influenced by it and could read blind before making a decision. The story or poem would be unusual, bold, take risks and be original.

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

A: I've noticed male writers in particular don't read my rejection emails closely and submit two weeks later instead of waiting four weeks or longer before having another go. The four week rule is there for a reason - to enable new voices and to allow the writer time to edit another piece or reflect or write another story or poem.
Writers can forget to notify me if their piece has been accepted elsewhere or worse send us into a bit of a spin when withdrawing a piece which was never submitted!

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

A: I ask for a bio in a separate word document attached to the email so I only see previous credits when I have made a decision.
I only want to know if writers are from an under represented group such as disabled writers, BAME, working class, LGBTQ etc.

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

A: I don't read every piece to the end. I feel nine times out of ten that the first page is a good indicator to writing ability. Occasionally I have accepted a piece which doesn't seem to begin until the second page and am willing to edit and tweak until it begins in an enticing way.

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

A: Whether a writer is from an under represented group as mentioned previously.

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

A: I tend to drift between intense reading submission periods and editing the stories within the blog and finding images.
Replying to emails is becoming an increasingly lengthy task as is saving the attachments ready to read.
I read submissions on my kindle from a cloud app. I place a definite 'R' or 'A' in the file name if I am 100 per cent sure of a submission or attach an 'M' for maybe if the story needs a second reading or if it's lengthy and I'm running out of time. Once I make a decision the story is then placed in a folder along with the bio. I will follow the writer on social media and notify them of the decision.

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

A: I would still respect a writer for not wanting to be on Twitter or other social media. It's not for everyone and can be hugely distracting and time wasting. On the other hand it can bring huge unprecedented opportunities to be prominent at a time when a new writer most needs it. For me, I feel the benefits outweigh the addictive qualities. Self discipline is needed but writers need to learn this skill regardless of social media so it's an excellent learning curve.

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

A: Firstly I wouldn't accept a piece if it wasn't achieving a certain level of competence. The onus is on the writer to edit and proofread. If I'm not warming to a piece a typo can make me hit the dreaded R button on my kindle.
However I do proofread a lot now. I also switch words around a little bit if they're not sounding right in my head as I'm reading through. Obvious errors are corrected. Sometimes I can top and tail a piece and these are the areas most likely to need substantive deleting I find, but this is rare. Most of the time I won't send it back to the writer as I don't consider it a substantial edit. If I were to rewrite a piece or change it hugely I would.

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

A: This is an area I'm paying more attention to. I do get sent flyers and emails about awards but I am looking to be more proactive.