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Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.
Q: If you publish writing, who are your favorite writers? If you publish art, who are your favorite artists?
A: James Baldwin: Every sentence he wrote is a work of art. Dave Eggers is brilliant and hilarious. He's also the first author I ever met, so I'll always have a soft spot for him. Colum McCann is brilliant, with so much vision, and he rocks the scarf look like nobody's business! Colin D. Halloran is definitely a poet to watch--I'm not biased at all, I'm just engaged to him :) Charles Simic, David Finkel, Jennifer Weiner when I'm feeling girly. And pretty much anything in The Rumpus.
Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?
A: In addition to fiction, nonfiction and poetry, we also publish visual art. Our cover is selected from submitted artwork, as well as black and white prints inside the journal.
We don't have a particular aesthetic; we like to think of ourselves as edgy and quirky, and we publish quite a bit of work that leans toward experimental, but quality is always the main consideration. Because we have a rotating staff (main positions usually change annually), our collection of tastes rotates as well. So if the current group of editors aren't fans of a piece, the next group might be!
I also love that we give emerging writers and artists the opportunity to be published alongside well-known contemporaries. We've had debut authors in the same issues as Sherman Alexie, George Singleton, and Billy Collins. Our 2013 Beacon Street Prize fiction winner, selected by Heather McHugh, is also a debut author!
Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?
A: Read an issue or two of the journal; that's the best way to get an idea of what we publish. It's always best to be creative and unique and tell your story from a fresh perspective, but I prefer a "cliche" story told beautifully and eloquently over a crazy/unique story told poorly.
And please PROOFREAD!!!
Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?
A: When people don't read or just ignore the submission guidelines . . . A 4,000 nonfiction word limit doesn't mean that you should take it as a personal challenge to submit a 5,000 word piece that knocks our socks off and forces us to make an exception. It means that we have limited space and need to draw the line somewhere.
General grammatical, spelling or formatting errors also drive me bonkers. Please proofread your work. Misspelling the name of the journal is the fastest way to get a rejection.
Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?
A: For the most part, we don't look at cover letters until after we review the submission. We want to publish the highest quality work, not the people with the most impressive publication credits. We've been known to choose debut authors over writers with impressive credentials.
Q: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?
A: We try to give every submission the time and effort it deserves. Sometimes it's obvious from the opening paragraph or the first stanza that a piece isn't polished, or just isn't right for the journal. We take personal taste out of the equation as much as possible and focus on quality--I've been in lengthy debates over pieces I didn't personally enjoy, but I felt were worthy of publication. If something sticks with you and sparks conversation, that's a good sign. If no one remember what a piece is about, it will have a harder time making the cut.