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Editor Interview: The Twin Bill

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

A: Life through baseball.

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

A: The world of literary sports is small but there are some great places out there. The Under Review does a great job with a much wider scope than we have. Whenever something doesn't quite fit baseball-wise (see: softball stories) I try to send them to The Under Review.

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

A: My non-baseball answer is Gary Shteyngart as a writer. Outside of The Twin Bill, I do a lot of humor writing. I would love to see more humor in the submissions we get. Baseball is fun. In baseball, KD Casey just released a great book, Unwritten Rules. We were also lucky enough to publish one of her short stories.
I used to edit at a fine arts website, so I was always embarrassed to say Vincent Van Gogh was my favorite artist. I think there's a certain amount of playfulness in his work that I like in the pieces we publish. I take art very seriously. I never had an illustration for anything I published, so I want an image for every piece for our writers. We've been very lucky to publish a number of great artists and there is a fantastic baseball art community. I think Andy Lattimer, John David Cordova, and Sam Williams are some baseball artists doing great things.

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

A: I think the attention we give to our writers is unique. I mentioned in another answer how we have art for every piece. But we also give personal feedback to all of the essays and fiction pieces. I've tried to treat The Twin Bill as the place that I, as a writer, would want to submit. I think we also are interested in more than just the game. We want stories of the writers and their relationship to baseball.

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

A: I think the biggest issue we see is people recapping games that most of us know about already. I try to tell the writers that we don't really care about what happened at games, we care about the writer and what they experienced. The more personal a poem or essay can get, the better. With fiction, we are always looking for ways to be surprised, aspects of the game that maybe we haven't thought about and how that can tell a story. I think the best pieces aren't really about baseball, but use baseball to tell a larger story.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: A writer with a unique point of view that doesn't just describe baseball, but places baseball in a greater context.

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

A: We get a lot of submissions, particularly fiction, that are well over the word count limit. We're happy to be a little flexible on word count, but out of respect for our editors, and their time, if it's significantly over we won't even open it. We only have one editor for each genre and they will actually read everything that follows the guidelines.

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

A: I like a cover letter with personality, and it may make a difference in how much we are willing to work with you on rewrites. As far as publication credits, we are just as likely to accept someone previously unpublished as we are someone who has been in the New Yorker.

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

A: We read every piece beginning. We've had some submissions where we actually cut the opening paragraph and it works better. If we see something in the piece, we are willing to work with them, if they're willing to put the work in. There have been times when we've asked for rewrites and it just didn't work and we had to pass. There have also been times where we didn't run a piece until the next issue. We feel if someone is going to take the time to write for us, we should put the same effort into their work.

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

A: If we aren't sure about a submission, we'll show it to another editor. This is where we ask for revise and resubmits. If we are really unsure still, we might take a look more at their credits and how likely they would be to share it on social media. We want people to read what we publish, so honestly it makes a big difference if people are active or not on Twitter.

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

A: When I read essays, I tend to read submissions right when I get them. I also like to let them sit and give them another read a week or two later and try to have a response for the writer within a month of their submission. I know with poetry we usually don't make decisions until we've received all our submissions. Fiction decisions also tend to be made after we've received all of the submissions.
I coach baseball in the spring and summer as well, so response times can vary. But I also always tell the writers to please give us a nudge after the deadline passes. We do sometimes miss pieces. We just published a poem that ended up being our poetry editor's favorite of the issue, but I forgot to send it over to him until we were nudged.
I will say, the sooner you can submit, the better. We will often give feedback asking for some edits or ideas of how to make it better, and it's a lot easier to do that earlier in the submission period.

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

A: We are completely digital for now. When we start to get money, we have considered POD options. I think one of the fun things about being digital is it lets us do exactly what we want, we aren't beholden to an amount we have to publish. I mentioned before the importance of people sharing our work on social media. We are only a year old and l a lot of baseball fans don't know about us, so it really does make a difference.

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

A: We give pretty detailed edits on essays and fiction, but always with the author's consent. I've had a few pieces that I've done very little with, and recently one where the author more or less rewrote the entire piece and it ended up great. I think the thing to remember is that we are looking for reasons to publish your work. We try to see the best in it, or what it can be. Sometimes it doesn't work. We used to do multiple rounds of edits with writers, but we learned if it's not working after the first one, it probably won't work with more effort and just ends up getting frustrating for everyone.
Even if we reject an essay or short story, we want to let the writers know why. We are all writers too, and we want to be the editors we wish we were submitting to.

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

A: We nominate work to Pushcart and Best of the Net. We are always interested in promoting our writers in whatever way we can.