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Editor Interview: The Ocotillo Review

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

A: underrepresented voices

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

A: Our goal is to create a journal that combines the diversity of genre found in The Sun and The Cincinnati Review with a more international reach.

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

A: Our tastes are eclectic from the fiction of Fanny Howe, Colson Whitehead, Karan Mahajan, Kim Addonizio, and Deb Olin Unferth to the poetry of Kwame Dawes, Dunya Mikhail, Tony Hoagland, and Rae Armantrout. Some favorite nonfiction writers are Suzy Spencer, Michael Hall, Mychal Denzel Smith, and Ernest J. Gaines.

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

A: We pay ALL writers we publish and we don't specifically solicit material from established literary voices. Popular writers you find in our journal go through the same submission process as emerging voices.

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

A: Make your work as clean and polished as possible. We have a short lead time from the close of submissions to our publication date. We don't have time to negotiate deep rewrites of your work. Please read and follow the submission guiidelines.

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

A: We will often extract a bio from your cover letter. Publication credits are interesting but it's more fun to have a personal quirk or uncommon fact about the author. You get brownie points for addressing your submission to the appropriate editor.

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

A: Someone in our all volunteer editorial staff will read the entire submission. We've polished some fairly rough gems. However, as submissions increase we will have less time for making adjustments. If it contains hate speech or pornography it will get tossed.

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

A: All accepted work will be read by at least two genre editors and the managing editor. If any editing beyond typos is needed the genre specific editor will work with the author directly.

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

A: We have a small all volunteer staff. During submission period I read and assign submissions as they come in. Be aware, we rarely reject anything before the submission deadline. If a piece takes our breathe away we may accept it quickly, especially if it's a simultaneous submission. I have to spend about half of my time on marketing, promotion and fundraising. It's not my favorite part of the job but I knew what I was in for when we started. I spend from 30 to 50 hours a week on this project during submission period. Fortunately, I married well.

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

A: We are a print-only journal. That was a personal preference. I have no problem with technology. We have a website, we are on Twitter, and have multiple Facebook pages. I just prefer the feel and permanence of a journal I can hold in my hand. It works with our marketing plan. In order to pay our authors (the main reason we exist) we must have something to sell. We occasionally put a select piece on our website to give submitters who don't want to invest in a start-up journal an idea of what we publish.

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

A: At this point we do what is necessary. Ideally, as we grow our base, we we'll get mind blowing submissions that are perfectly formatted and typo-free (I can dream). If a piece grabs us we take steps needed to publish it. If an author is willing to do the work in a timely manner we can usually make it work.

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

A: Not at this point. We plan to make Pushcart nominations beginning in 2019.