Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.
A: Comedy and Satire only
Q: What other current publications (or publishers) do you admire most?
A: We love McSweeney's, Points in Case, Slackjaw, Weekly Humorist...there are so many great comedy sites out there.
Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?
A: We have 12 editors from 3 different countries, half of us are women, and I think you can see the diversity of viewpoint reflected in who we choose to publish. Our large editorial staff also gives us the luxury to work with writers to revise pieces we think are almost there.
Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?
A: 1. Read our 'write for us' guidelines and follow them closely. We are a comedy magazine--we don't take mainstream or literary work with humorous elements. We don't take pieces over 700(ish) words, even if they're brilliant.
2. Take 10 minutes to read some of the recent work on the publication. If you look at the titles and read some of the work and think, "this isn't funny, I could write better than this," then our style may not be a fit for you. Comedy is subjective. There's a pub out there that will fit what you do.
3. You don't have to be stiff or formal in your cover letter--this is comedy, after all. But avoid jokes in the email because sometimes they can come off differently than you intend. A simple "Hi, I like your publication and hope you might like this comedy piece I wrote" is all you really need. But you do get bonus points for listing all the editors in your email.
Q: Describe the ideal submission.
A: The ideal submission follows our guidelines! It also avoids punching down. There's a clear game, the jokes get funnier/more absurd as the piece goes along, and the piece ends on a joke. It picks one format and doesn't try to over-complicate things. Make us laugh without making us work too hard.
Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?
A: Generally, people submit their pieces the right way. The biggest issue is people submitting non-comedy or ignoring the word count limit.
Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?
A: If someone belongs to a marginalized group, we want to know about it. We also like knowing if you're a brand new comedy writer, or if you're young. Most of the editors don't see the cover letter before we read the piece and only look at it later.
Q: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?
A: We read 90% of submitted pieces to the end. Every once in a while we can't make it through a piece but that's rare. We're looking for reasons to like it.
Q: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?
A: Every piece goes through the same evaluation. Several of us read each piece, and we vote on it. A piece is accepted if it gets 3 yes votes. If we're at a stalemate, we talk it out. If we ask for revisions, we decide what we want to see change for us to accept it. Then we vote on the revised piece.
Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?
A: Someone is always checking out the inbox. Soon after a piece comes in, we put it in our submission voting channel on Slack. There are twelve of us spread across multiple time zones. Some of us try to read pieces as they come into the inbox, while others of us read first thing in the morning or last thing at night. We vote on the pieces, and then it can take 1-10 days for us to let writers know the result. It depends on our outside work schedules and whether we're going to ask for revisions. We like to have an idea of what those revisions would be before we reach out.
Once a piece is accepted, we look at our editorial spreadsheet to figure out when we will publish it. I tend to schedule pieces on Sunday night because I like to start the week without that hanging over my head. I'll also schedule our social media posts on Sunday night and tell authors when their work will be published.
Q: How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?
A: Very. We wouldn't have a publication if we weren't comfortable working virtually over Zoom, Slack, and Hootsuite.
Q: How much do you edit an accepted piece prior to publication?
A: If we love the premise of a piece, and there are jokes in there that are laugh-out-loud funny, we're willing to provide substantive editing. We ask the author if they are willing to revise their piece. Then we hand them edits, which might be directions like "we would really love to see more absurdity here," or line editing, and ask them if they agree with the edits. It's a conversation, and we're willing to compromise to keep the author's vision for the piece.
That said, we only want polished pieces. There's a difference between turning in something that could be heightened, and turning in a piece with a ton of typos and a half-baked premise. If it looks like you didn't bother to polish the piece, we will reject it.
Q: Do you nominate work you've published for any national or international awards?
A: Not at this time. There aren't a lot of comedy awards for printed pieces.