Editor Interview: Jersey Devil Press

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

A: Misfit fiction.

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

A: I’m a big fan of Bananafish. Daniel McDermott has an amazing eye for spotting worthwhile work. You’re never going to skip to the end of something he publishes. And there’s Short, Fast & Deadly, too. They only publish stories written in 420 characters or less, so you can fly through an entire issue on a coffee break. And, again, the editor, Joseph Quintela, knows how to make sure that five minutes isn’t wasted.

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

A: As far as broad scheme, dead-guys-we’d-like-to-have-published-but-can’t, I’d say Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut. That’s the stuff I’m going to read on my down time, and probably the closest to what we’re looking for thematically as far as “big” names go.
Current short fiction writers, though? I’m a huge fan of Mike Sweeney’s work. The man doesn’t write nearly enough. And, of course, yt sumner. She writes plenty, and, as far as I'm concerned, she can do no wrong. Seriously, if you don’t recognize her name, you should feel pretty terrible about yourself.

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

A: Those one-off stories that occasionally get published by another journal -- maybe, if the editor’s feeling generous -- are the stories we actively look for. We want the stories that don’t fit into the traditional definitions of speculative fiction or literature. No hard sci-fi or fantasy, no sober melodramas. Pretension tends to be shot on sight. We want writing with a sense of humor, that isn’t afraid to be a little strange if it has to be.

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

A: Read an issue or three. I know that gets said a lot, but, honestly, I have no idea how to adequately describe Jenny Ortiz’s “Out of Steam Punk and Zombies Come Bruce Lee” short of just saying “It was awesome” and telling someone to read it. So read it. Because that’s what we want. Stories like that.

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

A: Prior to reading a story, I try not to even look at the name of the author. I want my initial opinion to be based on the writing and the writing alone. That said, a good cover letter can help a piece that’s on the fence. And a bad one can send it packing.
An author’s publication credits themselves don’t mean much. It’s more about the voice of the writer, whether or not he seems like a good guy, someone who gets what we’re publishing.

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

A: We try to read everything all the way through. I mean, some of the longer ones that are obviously just a bad fit, yeah, we’ll kick them to the curb without finishing. Again, we try not to. I’ve been surprised in the past by an ending or a second half that negated my initial misgivings.

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

A: Monica and I both have to read it, and we both have to like it. We individually rate pieces 1 to 10, then we average our numbers. The highest make it in for the month. Sometimes we both just love a piece and accept it immediately. And if one of us really, truly reviles a piece, it’s out, the other opinion be damned. Oddly enough, it’s the ones we’re not sure of, the 7s and 8s, that tend to languish the longest, being re-read and re-evaluated as that Maybe pile grows.

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

A: I tend to read through submissions at night, during my downtime at work, while Monica tends to read them on her phone while she’s going to work. So we’ll usually each rate at least a few each day. Unless life gets in the way. Then we’re tearing through the entire inbox on a Sunday afternoon.

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

A: Technology is awesome. As much as I love physical books, you can’t ignore the proliferation of digital publications. They’re easier, they’re faster, and they’re cheaper. For both the reader and the publisher.
Social networking, as well, helps everyone. For starters, I find it much easier to keep tabs on a magazine -- on what it’s doing, when it’s publishing -- through a Facebook or Twitter account. And with fan pages and author websites and the eight thousand other ways there are to exist on the internet, it’s remarkably easy for writers, readers, and publishers to reach out to one another and start an honest dialogue. Next thing you know, everyone’s finding other like-minded authors and publications and suddenly the world just seems that much better.