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Editor Interview: Sledgehammer Lit

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

A: wan husks of exuberance

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

A: there are so many lovely publications out there, we are truly spoiled for choice: a few we adore off the top of my head are Tattie Zine, Superfroot, The Daily Drunk, Cool Rock Repository, and Thanks Hun.

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

A: our favourite writers, hands down, are our contributors. sledgehammer is like a family, and we love seeing our contributors work placed with us and with other mags.

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

A: i think our 'throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks' ethos has resonated with the writing community. the feedback I hear from submitters is that we seem like a forum for those weird and awkward pieces that would be hard-to-place otherwise. we try to give our authors the freedom to colour outside the lines and indulge their experimental sides. we created the "diamond circle" to reward our most loyal and prolific contributors, which is a sort-of "hall of fame" for anyone who notches ten publications in sledgehammer. quite a few writers are closing in on diamond circle status now, and if all goes well we should see our first diamond circle members emerge in 2022. it's really just a cool way to thank our contributors for sending us so much rad stuff!

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

A: read the guidelines! beyond that, especially for poetry, give us more than one piece to consider. we know poems don't grow on trees but we geek out on poetry and like to see a submission packet that shows a poet's range.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: for poetry: a packet of five absolute bangers that are so exuberant our editorial staff tears its hair out to decide which pieces to keep. we try not to be the stereotypical poem-hoarding editor, we limit ourselves to two pieces (or three in rare and exceptional circumstances) per packet..... for flash: we love stories that take us to unexpected places, stuff we can't stop thinking about and want to read again and again.

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

A: we launched a new submission form, and it's really helped streamline the process for us and for the authors too. we appreciate a friendly cover letter, when all the fields are filled out correctly, and absolutely love when social media links are included in the bio (so we can follow and promote our author's work upon publication)

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

A: we love a friendly hello. the best cover letters provide a glimpse at the author, what makes them tick, and their geographical location. we certainly don't expect a full autobiography but it is nice to know something about the person behind the submission. we are not fussed about publication credits, and while we don't mind if you share a few, they won't have any bearing on your submission outcome.

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

A: our readers look for reasons to accept a piece, rather than reasons to decline a piece... but that said, sometimes you know instantly if a piece is up your alley and conversely when it's not, even when reading with an open mind.

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

A: sledgehammer was a one-man operation when it launched, but as the magazine grew it was obvious that model was unsustainable. we recruited a small team of assistant editors and readers, and each piece gets looked at by multiple sets of eyes in the decision making process. our staff is relatively diverse, and I encourage our readers to choose pieces that click with them personally, which means we publish a wide variety of styles.

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

A: it's all about the spreadsheet and staying organised. we have three reading teams that handle incoming submissions on a rota basis, reading daily and making their recommendations in the spreadsheet. our readers are empowered to accept and decline work unilaterally, but most of the time the process is fairly collaborative, with multiple readers weighing in on each submission. sledgehammer is well known for its quick turnaround times, and we work extremely hard to make our decisions efficiently. our rota system keeps our reading teams fresh and ensures a diversity of readers are making decisions on incoming pieces.

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

A: we embrace new technology. sledgehammer staff communicates primarily via a discord server, which for me as a 40-something seems really cutting edge. our submission spreadsheet is cloud-based so our reading teams can work from anywhere in the world. we publish four pieces a day, and use taskboard religiously to make sure we publish the right pieces on the right day.

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

A: if a piece needs major work we sometimes recommend the author to revise and resubmit. we might suggest edits here and there but generally we don't tinker too much with an accepted submission. we do offer a donation-based feedback service, and will waive the donation if a piece we believe in needs a little extra TLC to get it publication ready, especially if that author is from outside the traditional anglosphere.

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

A: we are really looking forward to BOTN and Pushcart nominations, and we MIGHT do an internal awards programme called "The Sledgy Awards" for best cover letter, best content warning, and whatever quirky superlatives we can come up with. Keep an eye out for this - having a Sledgy Award would definitely stand out in an author bio.