Skip to Content

Editor Interview: Anobium

This interview is provided for archival purposes. The listing is not currently active.

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

A: Strange/surreal writing.

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

A: We are big fans of an obscure journal/press out of Baltimore - The Shattered Wig Review. A lot of the writers with whom those publishers have a relationship are writers we admire, and the writing confidently falls into that realm of 'strange' we try our best to imitate.
Aside from that, we enjoy the erudition of the Chicago Review, the design of Ninth Letter, the independent attitude of Another Chicago Magazine, and the budget of McSweeneys.

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

A: We publish both fiction and poetry. The line between the two is a placeholder.
Some of our favorite writers are Franz Kafka, David Foster Wallace, Roberto Bolaño, Vladimir Nabokov, Jose Saramago, Sam Lipsyte, Haruki Murakami, Blaster “Al” Ackerman, Daniel A.I.U. Higgs, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Italo Calvino, Michael Chabon, Hunter S. Thompson, Jorge Luis Borges, Charles Baudelaire, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Arthur Schopenhauer and others.

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

A: Too many journals have mastheads that read like a telephone book. Too many journals are too damn long. Too many journals shortcut on design and call it 'keeping it simple.'
We have a small staff. We publish what we like. We have no mysterious or intellectualized 'process.' Our journals and publications are meticulously designed, and short enough to digest in one sitting. It’s for those who would prefer a shot of 100-proof whiskey rather than a cup of lukewarm milk. It's the meat without the potatoes.

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

A: Watch Eraserhead. Write. Submit.
Also, it doesn't hurt to pick up some of our releases to familiarize yourself with the writers we like. There's no magic to it. Just keep your eyes on the ball before you take a swing.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: The ideal submission isn't too short and isn't too long. It doesn't deliberate or get tied up in academic jargon. It doesn't talk about its undergraduate experience. It says something, rather than talking about saying something. It plays tricks. It makes a molehill out of a mountain. The ants sing it when they march in. It doesn't try to be anything other than what it is.
Because we're operating in a small world of the similar-minded, we understand that writers use journals like ours to begin to find their voice. There is no system. Either something works or it doesn't. We like it to give us the same feeling we get when we hear a prayer to a god we've never known.

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

A: That we're impressed by degrees and publishing histories.

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

A: On our submissions page, we ask for publication credits, but it's because we want an equal distribution of published and unpublished authors. Bios don't matter to us. We're in it for the writing.

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

A: Our editorial process works like this:
We receive a piece of writing. Our managing editor gives it a quick scan to determine if it is 'good' or 'not good.' Sometimes this can be discerned in a few words, sometimes in a few pages. There is no science for determining the qualities of 'good' in a piece. Either it corresponds with Anobium, or it doesn't. The 'good' writing (the writing that corresponds with Anobium) then gets forwarded to our editorial staff, which ranks and discusses the qualities of a piece. About 25% of submissions get to this secondary review process. Based on the rankings of the pieces, as well as the proposed direction and projected content for the release, we make our final decisions. It's time consuming, but it ensures that we get the wheat separated from the chaff.

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

A: 'Good' and 'Not Good' are placeholders. We don't make evaluative judgements as much as we ask the question 'does this piece correspond with our projected direction?' The category of 'projected direction' is entirely dependent on how we want our volumes to come together. It's the non-sexy part of editing, and the time where we can make some writers happy, and tell other writers that we really liked their writing, but not for this or that particular project. It inspires a lot of great communication and gives us the opportunity to share in some really beneficial discussions, all of which continue to shape the category of 'projected direction.' Evaluation is not a systematized thing; it's an ongoing process.

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

A: I wake up. I turn on the gravity simulators in my spaceship. I do some aerobic and anaerobic exercises. And then I get to work. Occasionally I will go for a spacewalk to clear my head.

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

A: Technophobia is the reason a lot of once long-standing journals continue to fail. You can still publish and print books in 2011. There is still an audience and there is still an interest. Technology is a real, self-sustaining entity. It's not something that can be debated or theorized away. This is the world we live in, and the world we live in happens to have mobile devices, satellites, cryogenics, particle colliders, and TV dinners. Social networks have become part of our social consciousness, and phone calls have taken the back seat to electronic communications. Most of the time, it's cheaper and more efficient, and its form and implementation are contingent upon the practice of communication (ie: words and writing).
As many have warned, however, it is important to remain aware of technology's role and relationship with our own self consciousness. Too much technology can eradicate the creative impulse, which is the very thing that makes us human. Books are like mirrors. They show us who we are. I see more of myself in a book than I do in the dead screen of an iPod. That's all there is to it.