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Editor Interview: Blue Mesa Review Contest

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

A: Fresh & interesting words

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

A: We love PANK, Hayden's Ferry Review, The Believer, and our New Mexico neighbors to the south -- Peurto del Sol.

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

A: Some of our (very long list of) favorite writers include our former faculty adviser, Justin St. Germain, our current faculty adviser, Emily Rapp, Emma Straub, Nina McConigley, Julia Fierro, Roxane Gay, Carmen Gimenez Smith, Dana Levin, Joy Harjo, and many many more.

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

A: We are committed to providing your work with a great home. We believe we are on the forefront of creating a lovely, readable space for great writing online and in print. At BMR we understand that literary magazines have a responsibility to writers, and we work hard to provide a space that you can feel proud to publish your work in. We also are constantly working to find creative ways to support writers financially; one such way being our Annual Summer Contest. As a magazine that receives no funding from our affiliated University,we are currently working on creating a payment structure for writers. We are a magazine run by writers, so we understand the financial burden that can come with creating beautiful work. We hope to ease that burden by supporting good writing in a practical way in the coming year.

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

A: Read our past issues. Also, understand that our board is rotating, and so our editorial staff changes (along with our tastes) from year to year. So, also, check out our blog, look at our about page, find out more about who we are. In the end, we are individual people with unique tastes. But one thing that remains constant each year: we are always looking for good, confident, polished writing.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: Something that feels complete, confident in what it is doing, with fresh, interesting language.

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

A: Often, our slush is 90% full of work that is three or four revisions away from being polished. Don't rush to submit. Sit with your work and wait until you really feel like it is ready.

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

A: Cover letters should be brief. Just tell us your name and where you are from. If we decide to publish your work, then we'll ask more about you. But really, it is ALL about the work.

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

A: We have several people who read and vote on each submission. Sometimes, it is easy to tell that a piece is not right for us in the first few pages. But each reader we have is different. If a piece is selected to go to discussion, we will have 10 - 15 readers discuss it, and each person has read that piece to the end.

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

A: We have a three-step selection process. First, a piece makes it out of general slush by receiving a certain number of YES votes and having the specific genre editor select it to go to discussion. Then, 10-15 of us sit around and talk about the work's merits and downfalls. Then, it is solely up to the genre editor to decide if she wants to publish it or not.

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

A: Each editor on our staff is different. When I was a genre editor, I liked to read five submissions a day. Other editors like to do more than that, but just a few times per week. We also have a great staff of volunteer readers, so a lot of the time I'll skim through the comments on submittable to see what people are loving.

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

A: I think it is extremely important, not only to stay relevant, but also to capture a larger readership. I don't think that anyone wants their story or poem or essay locked away in some print journal that never sees the light of day. At BMR, we are committed to providing a quality online AND print journal, and we don't see one format as better than the other. But obviously, we have more online readers than we do print.