Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.
A: Fascinating oddities
Q: What other current publications (or publishers) do you admire most?
A: STORGY Magazine, Cabinet of Heed, Ellipsis Zine.
Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?
A: Idle Ink strives to publish work that ignites a sense of curiosity in the reader; the weird, the complex, the difficult. We enjoy building strong, lasting relationships with our contributors and we do our best to support and promote their work long after working with them.
Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?
A: When reading submissions, I look for something unusual. A lot of writers try to imitate other writers, and it rarely works. I believe that originality and faith in what you’re doing is the only real way to succeed. As an editor, I’m looking for the stuff you won’t necessarily find in many other lit mags, and the readers really seem to appreciate that.
I also love a distinctive narrative voice. I don’t care whether the narrator is likeable, unlikeable, an enigma – if you can write in a way that makes me feel invested in the speaker, that’s a big plus.
Q: Describe the ideal submission.
A: There is no ideal submission. I don’t think it’s possible to distil all the characteristics of a great submission into a list of criteria. Writing is an artform – the last thing I would want a writer to do would be to read a checklist on Idle Ink's website and try to write a story to fit all the points perfectly, because that wouldn’t be authentic.
I never thought I’d publish a story with a twenty-eight-word title, or a philosophical analytical essay, or a lengthy time-travel story about Loch Ness, but they were too good to refuse. My point being, Idle Ink is all about originality and inclusivity. The best piece of advice I can give to writers would be to write for yourself, not for anybody else, because the most fascinating pieces are the unrestrained ones. It’s also much more fun.
Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?
A: I like to think I’m a laidback and forgiving editor, but there are a few things which irk me.
I don’t enjoy reading offensive stories. Luckily these are in the minority, but I’ve had submissions before that are openly sexist or feature unpleasant scenes that serve no purpose whatsoever, and there’s just no way I’ll ever publish anything like that.
A few times, I’ve received submission emails from writers which include an Amazon link to their book and a request for me to buy it. I can understand the need for indie authors to market their books, but a submission email is not the place to do it.
I think the most frustrating type of submission I receive are the ones that are a little undercooked. The plot is promising, the characterisation is almost there, but it’s not quite up to publication standard. I think a lot of these submissions come from writers that are just starting out, and quite often I think to myself, “this writer’s gonna be brilliant in two or three years’ time.”
Oh, and you wouldn’t believe the amount of emails I get addressed to “Mr Corbett”. I’m a woman, and I’m not exactly hiding it!
Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?
A: Very little. Quite often, submitters will include a bio in their submissions email, but I try to disregard these until I've read the submission. It's always interesting to gain insight into a submitter after the fact, but it has no bearing on whether or not their work will be accepted.
Q: How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?
A: Very important. Our world is becoming increasingly connected, and I feel it's important for publishers to keep pace with this. As Idle Ink is an online publication it can be accessed by anybody from anywhere in the world, which I think is a wonderful thing.
Q: Do you nominate work you've published for any national or international awards?
A: No. This is perhaps a controversial opinion, but I'm unconvinced by the whole concept of awards in the arts.