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Editor Interview: Empty House Press

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

A: Words connected to place.

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

A: We greatly admire Milk Candy Review, Pidgeonholes, matchbook, Longleaf Review, Little Fiction | Big Truths, Travelin' Appalachians Revue, and Dinner Bell Mag.

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

A: Some of our favorite writers include Sharon Olds, Eavan Boland, Pat Lowther, Mark Doty, Mary Oliver, and Ross Gay.

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

A: We’ve worked hard to develop a unique, specific concept for Empty House Press. We only publish themed work—per our guidelines: “We are looking for writing that addresses the way narrative and presence adhere to place and the way they vanish. We encourage broad interpretations of what the idea or image of an empty house might evoke. This includes but is not limited to writing about home, landscape, place, memory, and of course, the atmosphere of previously inhabited spaces.”

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

A: Read our submission guidelines and our past issues!

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: An ideal submission has a strong sense of place or landscape and carefully chosen, musical language. While we like narrative elements in both poetry and prose, we’re more interested in movement and resonance rather than traditional plot.

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

A: Many submissions either miss the fact that our press has a theme or interpret that theme a bit too literally. Although empty spaces are part of what we're interested in, setting a story in an abandoned house doesn’t automatically ensure a fit. Our theme is more aesthetic and metaphorical—the work we’ve published so far reflects what we’re going for.

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

A: We’ve published both established and first-time writers. Above all, the work is what matters to us. We do ask for a cover letter, and we like to hear a little bit about our submitters, but we don’t need a long explanation of the submission or a long list of previous publications.

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

A: We read all of our submissions, though we can often tell within the first few lines or paragraphs if a piece might be a fit. Sometimes we go back and forth quite a bit though on a piece—when this happens, we might ultimately decide to accept, ask the author if they’d be willing to revise, or reject if we don’t feel we can effectively guide the author towards a revision. In the latter case, we’ll always send an encouraging decline; we try to do that as much as possible to let authors know we’ve appreciated their work and would love to read more.

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

A: It depends on the piece, but essentially, if we see promise in a piece and think we can help it reach even greater potential, we usually write to the author to express our interest and to give some examples of what we’d like to work with them on a bit more. We like to be up front about what changes we’re looking for, but we also make it clear that we’re open to the author’s ideas and suggestions during the editing process, and that it’s ultimately up to them if they’d like to work with us. Revision for us ranges from re-writing a line or two to a more major re-structuring of a piece with multiple drafts.

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

A: We use an Airtable form and spreadsheet to receive and track submissions, but we write all of our emails manually. The two of us read, comment, and vote on submissions in the spreadsheet, but we’ll then often discuss pieces we’re drawn to or edits via chat, email, and Skype. Since we each live on different sides of the Atlantic, we rarely get to talk about submissions in person, but the work in our queue and our contributors’ work have become constant threads stitching through our days across that distance.

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

A: Personally, we like both print and online formats, but we do see the value in modern technologies to connect people around the world. Since we two editors live so far away from each other, it would be next to impossible to run the press without them.

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

A: Any major edits would be handled before a piece is officially accepted, as outlined above. Once a piece is accepted, we only ask for very minor copy edits or occasionally an alternate title if, for example, we’ve already accepted a piece for an upcoming issue with a similar title.

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

A: So far we’ve nominated for Best of the Net and hope to include more nominations in the future for Best Small Fictions, Best Microfiction, and Pushcart Prizes.