Editor Interview: The Carolina Quarterly
Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.
A: Beauty and Truth
Q: What other current publications (or publishers) do you admire most?
A: Harvard Review because each issue is itself a work of art. Tuesday: An Art Project for innovations in formatting. APR for sticking with what works. The Missouri Review for fantastic covers. Ecotone for continued excellence and importance. DIAGRAM for a fantastic premise. Anderbo.com: simple but effective. Beloit Poetry Journal for the care and attention they give to each work they publish.
Q: If you publish writing, who are your favorite writers? If you publish art, who are your favorite artists?
A: Hanya Yanagihara, G. Willow Wilson, Colson Whitehead, Lauren Beukes, Susanna Clarke... Anyone interested in contemporary issues and tackles them with sensitivity and imagination.
Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?
A: Two Things:
1) Our editorial staff is entirely composed of UNC students and changes frequently. That means the journal constantly re-invents itself and we don't get bogged down in one particular style or school of literature. Eclecticism is our strength.
2) We publish 3 print issues per year, and the equivalent of 2 issues in online content. We can therefore afford to take risks on less-than-perfect work and will often invest the time honing it with the author. For this reason alone, we find ourselves publishing several first-time or early-career writers in each issue.
Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?
A: Be adventurous. We admire and respect writers who take risks. We get lots of love stories but we don't get lots of stories that challenge cultural assumptions, the nature of reality and the conventions of literature.
Q: Describe the ideal submission.
A: Regardless of genre, we are looking for submissions that are concerned with both language and affect. The experience of reading the perfect submission would begin with the pleasure of novelty and end with the ache of recognition.
Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?
A: We do not accept email submissions and please be patient for a response. We respond to every submission. We do not discard submissions--ever.
Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?
A: Cover letters are not important or needed. We often publish first-time authors, so there is no need to prove your submission is worthy of our time in a cover letter. The submission will be judged on its own merits.
Q: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?
A: This depends on the genre. Poems get several reads, fiction and non-fiction usually get several (3-4) pages.
Q: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?
A: After getting approved by at least one reader and one editor, each work then goes to a genre-specific editorial meeting where we decide on the contents for the next issue. Page length is taken into consideration, as is the degree to which the pieces work well together/complement one another. Sometimes we will request edits from the author. Rarely are these do-or-die requests, but it is important for an author to accept our gentle revision suggestions.
Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?
A: The editors at CQ are all PhD students at UNC-Chapel Hill. We work for the journal as well as teach, do our own research and classwork and try to have a personal life. To keep the journal running smoothly, we each have 3-5 hours in the office per week. During these hours we manage undergraduate interns, read submissions, work on layout-and-design, and pay the bills. Most of the rest of our work happens over the internet or in coffee shops/bars/living rooms when we get together for editorial meetings. The Editor in Chief makes sure all the gears keep turning, that the lights stay on, and that each issue is hopefully better than the last. There isn't really an "average day," which is part of what keeps it interesting.
Q: How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?
A: The CQ sees modern technologies as very important to our efforts. We are currently redesigning our website and print journal. Our online presence revolves around a twitter feed and a facebook page which are also used to tout our contributors' accomplishments. Submittable is our online submission manager and it eases the burden of submissions enormously. We highly encourage online submissions over paper submissions. The turn around time is faster; the likelihood of losing your piece is eliminated and if you experience an issue with the submission process we will accept an email submission.
Q: How much do you edit an accepted piece prior to publication?
A: Very little. However, when genre editors make editorial decisions we expect that authors comply.