Editor Interview: The Cantabrigian

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

A: Inventive short stories

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

A: We are committed to publishing emerging authors and open to previously-published stories. What excites us most is providing a home for stunning, thought-provoking fiction that we love but that not everyone will.

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

A: The obvious answer: please read all of our submission guidelines and follow them. I'm a stickler for plot--there has to be one, and it better either be one I haven't seen before or the best version of something familiar. If you're choosing which story to send to us, pick the one you had the most fun writing and/or the one that you don't submit much because it's too weird. Read previous issues; submission is free and an E-book is only $4.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: The author writes with authority on a subject that we haven't seen explored before or at least not from this angle. The prose is inventive, incisive and not overly-indulgent. If a piece is long, there needs to be something spurring the reader on on almost every page. If a piece is short, it needs a plot (broadly defined--you know it when you see it). Good short stories are singular in motive and land every blow that they throw. I like to be surprised into enjoying a story that falls into a category I'd previously been reluctant to consider.

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

A: Please include a cover letter, it shows us you care a little (even if it's canned it makes a difference). It's easy to dismiss a piece if it hasn't been copyedited. I'm called "Ms." in a lot of cover letters even though I'm a man, but I kind of like that.

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

A: See my previous note about cover letters--if nothing else they're a sign you've done your research as they're specifically asked for in our guidelines. Previous publication credits do matter to us as one of our missions is to publish emerging authors. That does not, however, mean that any surplus or deficit of previous publication will affect our opinion of your fiction. We choose the best work that crosses our threshold, period.

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

A: Our staff is committed to reading at least 2/3 of every story. Most often we read the whole thing. The story that starts dubiously but improves dramatically by the end is rare, but not unheard-of. Rare too is the story that offends our readers' sensibilities so drastically that we have to pass on it on principle without giving it a full read (though that too is not unheard-of). So we give every story that comes to us a fair shake; we appreciate you taking the time to submit.

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

A: Plot, prose quality, inventiveness, thoroughness of proofing, length, content, how well it ties in with the other stories selected.

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

A: I can only speak for our publication, I won't pretend to know what's good for everyone. We exclusively accept electronic submissions because that seems to be the current standard and our staff are familiar and comfortable with the technology. Ultimately I believe it is an editor's job to encourage participation from as broad and diverse an audience as possible, and the internet facilitates that.

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

A: This depends largely on the story. Some stories go through very minimal editing, others we accept on the condition of certain specified changes. Every piece receives line and copy editing from one of our staff and will most likely be edited to meet the requirements of our style guide. Authors are consulted on all edits and pieces are not published unless it is in a form that is acceptable to both author and editor.