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Editor Interview: Coin-Operated Press Zines

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

A: Collaborative zines

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

A: We love the work of fellow zine-makers Door Ajar, Georgie Mac, and so many folks from Edinburgh Zine Library and Glasgow Zine Library. Gender Shit also make incredible zines!

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

A: We have published hundreds of writers and artists at this point - in over 24 zine publications in just over 2 years. Some of our favourites are Matt Smith, Angel Rosen, and Cherie Bruce. Coin-Operated Press Co-Founder and Editor, Chloe Henderson, also makes art separate from our company - it's magical!

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

A: Coin-Operated Press is a social enterprise owned and operated by two queer creators. We work primarily with folks from the LGBTQ+ community, and those with chronic illness and disability. We publish collaborative zines once a month, which features many artists, writers, photographers, and other creatives; and we also host many monthly zine-making workshops in Edinburgh and Dundee. We have partnered with other social enterprises and charities around Scotland, including Blunt Knife Co. The Salisbury Centre, Children's Health Scotland, Edinburgh Pride, and Freya's Wish. We are looking forward to working with LGBT Health Scotland and Feeling Strong in the coming months.

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

A: We love to see work from people with a wide range of abilities and backgrounds. You don't have to be a professional artist or writer to submit work to us! The beauty of zine-making is that is truly can be whatever you want it to be, in all your DIY cut-and-paste glory!

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: We love to see traditional cut-and-paste zine submissions with a unique interpretation of the monthly theme. Prose and poetry pieces are great to see - provided they fit the 1-2 page limit, so we can fit as many creators in our zines as possible! We love our submission meetings, because it's always so exciting to see how each person interprets the theme we set. We encourage everybody to submit, regardless of background and ability. Whether you have been professionally trained, or this is the first time you have picked up a sharpie, we love to see what ever you can create!

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

A: Folks should remember to complete the Google Form provided to all submitters, to the best of their ability. We ask for a one sentence bio to be included in our zines - this is often a paragraph! That makes the submission process quite long!
People who create art using traditional mediums, like collage and illustration, should remember to send us a high-quality scan or photo of their image. Folks often get rejected due to the quality of the image sent to us, rather than the content of the piece.
Writers should remember to send us a 1-2 page submission - we can't accept longer pieces.

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

A: We ask people to complete a Google Form upon submission. This includes a one-sentence bio, pronouns, and the name they wish to be credited with. We are happy to publish pieces that have previously been accepted into other publications, but we don't require a full cover-letter or CV.

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

A: We generally like to be hooked in the first couple of paragraphs. If we like the beginning, we will scan the rest of the piece, and read the ending. We can normally tell if we like a piece from the first paragraph.

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

A: We can generally tell quite quickly if we think a piece will fit with our zines. If we like a piece of art that has been submitted, but the quality of the image isn't great, we will email and ask for a better image to be sent before choosing to include the piece. If we really like a piece of writing, but it is too long to fit into the zine, we will ask if we can include an excerpt instead. We don't have the capacity to fully edit pieces of writing, and will assume if there are any grammatical errors in a submission, that this was done purposely. Writers are encouraged to proof-read before submitting to us.

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

A: Our call-for-submissions are opened each month for 3 weeks. When the deadline has been reached, myself and Chloe will hold a submission meeting. I am based in Dundee, and Chloe is in Edinburgh, so these meetings are usually over Skype. If we have an event on the day of a submission deadline, we will often hold our submission meeting after the event, in person, which is always a lot more fun! We like to make a big pot of tea before settling into the meeting. Our submission meetings can last anywhere from 2 - 4 hours, depending on how many submissions we get.

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

A: As our company is spread between Edinburgh and Dundee - and we launched a month before covid lockown - we have found the use of modern technologies incredibly useful. We hold weekly meetings over Skype, and the majority of our submission meetings are also held online. We have a very strong relationship with our audience over social media - especially Instagram and Discord. Social Media allows us to broadcast our monthly submission call-outs, providing a platform for marketing and promotion. All of our submissions are currently electronic - we use Google Forms to receive all of our submissions. This doesn't mean that submissions have to be created in a digital format - we have received submissions that were created with traditional materials, including film photography, illustration, and even embroidery - they are simply scanned or photographed, and then sent to us digitally.

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

A: We rarely edit a piece prior to being accepted for publication. Coin-Operated Press is run by 2 people, and so we lack to capacity to edit submissions at this time. We usually receive around 60-70 submissions per zine, every month - and we only have space for about 50 pieces to be included. If we particularly like a piece, but notice it needs some edits, we will contact the creator to provide the edits, within a week of the submission deadline, to be included in our zine. We encourage all submitters to proof-read, and provide high-quality images of their work, at the initial submission stage, to ensure we are more likely to accept your work.

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

A: Not at this time.