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Editor Interview: SAND: Literature and Art

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

A: diverse, subversive work

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

A: PANK, Electric Literature, A Public Space, Asymptote, Tint, Jellyfish Review, Black Warrior Review, The Cincinnati Review, Split Lip, BOMB, The Rumpus, Hobart, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Willowherb Review, Flaneur, Dummy, Black Sun Lit (Vestiges), The Gravity of the Thing, Radioactive Moat, BOAAT, The Offing, Extra Teeth, and Tentacular, just to name a few. We love literary journals.

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

A: Fiction: Karen Russell, Edwidge Danticat, George Saunders, Jennifer Egan, Manuel Gonzales, Han Kang, Steven Millhauser, Irenosen Okojie, May-Lan Tan
Art: Tracy Emin, Rashid Johnson, Sophie Calle, Albert Oehlen, Yoko Ono, Mariechen Danz and Joseph Beuys (particularly his blackboard drawings), and Francisco Goya (especially his black and white drawings)
Poetry: Vahni Capildeo, Daisy Lafarge, Claudia Rankine, May Ayim, Roseanne Watt, Anne Carson, Sawako Nakayasu, Kaveh Akbar, Feng Sun Chen, Gail Sher
Creative Nonfiction: Sabrina Orah Mark, Ocean Vuong, Sigrid Nunez, Terese Marie Mailhot, Natalia Ginzburg, Claudia Rankine, Ann Carson, Kathleen Jamie, Eileen Myles

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

A: We’ve long been inclusive, diverse, international, fresh, and non-traditional. As an English-language publication in Berlin, the work we publish reflects the diverse team that produces it. We publish exciting writing that takes risks, and we will proudly continue to amplify underrepresented voices, including writers and artists who are women, BIPOC, indigenous, LGBTQ+, working class, disabled, international, and/or geographically underrepresented.

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

A: SAND receives thousands of submissions each year, and we are highly selective. We only publish 1-2% of the submissions we receive. Therefore, submitters should be sure that their work is a fit for SAND. Read SAND and see what we've published recently, or click on the links in our call for submissions and read about what our current editors are looking for. Follow our social media and check out our YouTube channel to see what we’ve previously published. It'll give you an idea of the style of writing we're choosing but also show you where you can knock our socks off with something different and unusual.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: The ideal submission is one that reflects a submitter’s understanding of what SAND publishes and that follows the guidelines to the letter. It’s also nice when submitters address their cover letters to the editors who will be reading their submissions.

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

A: Not understanding what kind of work we publish. Not following submissions guidelines to the letter.

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

A: We’re more interested in quality than we are in where the writer or artist has published before, whether they have an MFA, etc. That being said, we have long been committed to diversity and inclusiveness, so biographies are important to us when making final decisions. We are strong supporters of gender parity and will continue to publish writing from underrepresented voices. Don’t be afraid to include this biographical information in your cover letter if you feel comfortable doing so.

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

A: Like most literary journals, we receive a lot of blanket submissions from people who don’t necessarily understand what we publish. If submissions don’t fit SAND’s aesthetic, we will reject those without reading the full submission. In general, we’re looking for subversive poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and art from an array of fresh perspectives, so those submissions always receive a full and careful evaluation.

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

A: SAND is very democratic, so once editors decide on shortlists, the entire team has a chance to chime in before we make final decisions on what to publish. It’s beautiful to see how certain stories resonate with so many people who have such different tastes and to see the passion that comes out of the team during those discussions.

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

A: We're seeking out and reading/viewing work by diverse writers and artists, always on the lookout for fresh, new perspectives. We're building relationships with and supporting like-minded writers, artists, bookstores, organizations, projects, and events. We're writing and making art ourselves. We're reading and viewing hundreds of unsolicited submissions and collaborating with our full team to choose the top 1-2% of those to publish. We're working with writers to edit/polish pieces before publication. We're copy editing and proofreading, and finally, we're working with our designer to make a beautiful print issue.

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

A: We love technology because we believe in inclusivity, accessibility, and international community-building. We connect with our community over Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook. We keep submissions inclusive and free of cost online. Selling digital issues alongside our print issues eliminates expensive shipping costs and keeps our journal accessible. These e-issues are also inclusive since the text can be converted to speech, and font sizes can be changed using e-readers. In 2020, our first digital launch allowed us to interact with old and new members of our international community in real-time. It was beautiful.

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

A: We expect writers and artists to send us their most polished work. We are also very careful readers and editors who engage closely with the details of what we publish. Our primary interest is always to print the best version of the work we accept, not necessarily in the precise form it was submitted. For pieces that are especially exciting, we might do more extensive edits. In this case, we work closely with authors and poets, who always have the final say on what is published.

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

A: We nominate for as many awards as possible! We loyally nominate pieces for the Pushcart Prize and are very honored to be able to say that flash fiction pieces originally published in SAND have been included in three Best Small Fictions anthologies. Stories published in SAND have also been shortlisted for the 2018 and 2019 Stack Awards in Best Original Fiction.