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Editor Interview: The Sunlight Press

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

A: Unexpected narratives

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

A: We welcome new and established voices to our journal. If the writing and narrative arc offer a compelling story and memorable characters, we give weight to what is in front of us, whether the writer is unpublished or a Pushcart Prize nominee. In terms of communicating with people who submit, we offer a response to each person who writes to Sunlight. We believe writers and their work deserve acknowledgement. Artists shouldn’t wonder whether their submission has fallen into a black hole. At Sunlight, we aim to respond with an acceptance or rejection to a writer within three to four weeks from the date piece is submitted. We also pay for all accepted submissions because we firmly believe writers and artists should be paid for their work.

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

A: Please take a close look at our submission guidelines and read/view a sampling of published pieces in your genre - essay, short story, poetry, book reviews, and photography. Before submitting your work, read your piece aloud, perhaps workshop it with a critique group, and check carefully for typos (including the dreaded two spaces after the period).

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: The ideal submission offers a compelling narrative arc, literary prose, and makes the personal universal. In terms of making it easier for the editors - an ideal submission should contain all the writer’s/artist’s personal contact information, a brief description of their submission, three to four sentence bio, and a headshot. The submission (if attached and not pasted within email) should also include the writer’s name and title on the attachment.

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

A: Their submitted work is well beyond the word length described on our Submit page. Also, it can be clear from a submission the writer hasn’t looked at the work Sunlight publishes. We don’t accept submissions that are religiously or politically charged. In addition, we want well-crafted essays, not blog posts. The best way to approach our submission process is to review the pieces we publish.

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

A: No cover letter is required. It is helpful to know whether the writer is previously published but there is no need to include every publication. If the writer is connected to social media channels, we’d like to know their handles. We also like to know if a writer/artist currently works in a field outside the artistic community.

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

A: We generally read an entire piece before making a decision. Occasionally, we realize early in a piece that it is not a great fit for Sunlight (for instance, we typically do not publish openly religious or political work).

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

A: We have three volunteer readers (who are experts in a particular genre) who review submissions periodically. If the two of us (editors) don’t agree on whether to move forward on a piece, we often ask for evaluation from one of our readers.

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

A: We read and correspond with other writers, as well as with one another. We also make certain the website is up to speed, check how our pieces are doing on social media, and reply to writers’ submissions and queries. We are currently working to establish The Sunlight Press as a nonprofit and therefore, we are doing the research to secure this status and actively looking at ways to fundraise. Publishing several types of work means exploring how to illustrate pieces; this means looking at photos available online, those submitted by photographers for publication, and those offered by our several volunteer photographers. We talk every Thursday by phone to go over management of the site, submissions, and scheduling pieces for publication. Additionally, we work throughout the week editing work for publication and pairing it with suitable art.

We regularly communicate via email with our writers and artists, answering their questions and occasionally seeking revisions to their work.

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

A: The publishing industry is evolving. Digital publications, whether magazines or literary journals, are increasing their foothold in today’s landscape. The Sunlight Press is strictly an online literary journal and we use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share our featured pieces and promote writers’ work (and we ask writers to do the same). We correspond with our writers exclusively via email. Without this technology, The Sunlight Press wouldn’t exist.

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

A: We find most submitted work we accept does not need substantial editing. If we feel a piece needs significant work, we either ask for revisions from the writer or suggest the writer submit new work in the future. As editors, we copy edit (word and line editing) and proofread; we will inform a writer (before publication) of a substantive edit we’ve made. In most cases, we feel editing is at our discretion.

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

A: We plan to nominate work this year for the first time. We spent our launch year (2017) getting off the ground and look forward this year to identifying notable work for nomination. We plan to nominate selected pieces for the Pushcart Prize, as well as for Best of Net.