Editor Interview: Quarterly West

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

A: Slightly to the left.

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

A: A Public Space, Tin House, Gigantic Magazine, McSweeney's, and a lovely online journal called Slush Pile.

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

A: Fiction: Steve Almond, Ron Carlson, Brian Evenson, Noy Holland, Gary Lutz, Sebald,
Poetry: Rae Armentrout, Joe Wenderoth, Matthew Zapruder, Matthew and Michael Dickman, Louise Gluck, Jorie Graham, Marc Wise.

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

A: Quarterly West looks for writing that is: Exciting. Challenging. Risky. Unpredictable.
And Different.
I could say what different means, but then we might receive a slew of submissions that are all different in the same way. Different will be victim to form—to the “fragment sentence,” “non-linear plot,” and “hybrid genre”. Different will be slave to space, time, story and moment. This does not seem the way to open the door for Different.
We think Different doesn’t open a door, actually. Different doesn’t know doors or windows. Different stomps and comes in. Maybe it seeps in. Sometimes, and in our favorite works, different is always already there and it strikes flint and blazes. This is what we look for.

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

A: Read previous issues. Submit in the right format. Don't sweat the cover letter but also don't write one with a tone that makes it hard to like your piece. Reread your work, if it does something that surprises even you, send it in.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: That's hard, because you never know until you read it. It's the piece that is wild enough to breeze around in one's mind for weeks after reading it and yet in spite of its ephemeral nature, strong enough to knock down all the others you just read.

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

A: Not formatting it right for our online submission process, or submitting something far too long for us to even consider.

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

A: The story speaks for itself. It's amazing how many times I read a cover letter, expect big things and am disappointed, and vice versa. That being said, a few professional words never hurt.

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

A: That varies widely. If the story is of the quality and style we publish, I'll read the whole thing before deciding, or at least as long as it takes for me to know. If it's clear from the first page that it's not, I move on to another piece.

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

A: We do several reads, a first read by a reader or editor, a second read by an editor, and an additional read by another editor to make sure it's a good fit.

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

A: That's hard to say, as I am mostly reading, running contests, and helping where I can. The head honcho editors, on the other hand, have a lot more technical jobs, getting the issue up and running, and running the office duties on top of putting together a great final product.

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

A: I think technology can be an excellent opportunity as long as one doesn't lose sight of the main purpose, which is to put out a great magazine with great work in it.