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Editor Interview: Berkeley Fiction Review

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

A: Innovative short fiction

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

A: The Short Form, The Believer, The Kenyon Review, and Catapult Magazine

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

A: Outside our publication, our favorite writer is currently Carmen Machado, though our own published writers are certainly our favorites!

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

A: We are an author-driven publication first and foremost. We have multiple staff members and editors reading every story, and we work extensively and lengthily with accepted and rejected authors alike to improve their writing. Our work is fundamentally collaborative between different editors on the journal and with the author, which means that the author receives attention from a wide array of editorial staff who care passionately about the author's work.

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

A: Consider if your work is saying something new or saying something in a new way. As per our mission guidelines, we seek out innovative storytelling, whether in content or in form. Also consider if your work is conscientious of any potentially problematic material that appears in your work.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: The ideal submission is one that is saying something new, preferably from an underrepresented voice in the literary community. We especially welcome submissions from people of color, as well as those in the LGBTQIA+ community, and people with disabilities. It is definitely under our accepted page limit of 30 and likewise shows effort in conforming to our submission guidelines.

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

A: The mistake most submitters make is putting identifying information in the story document itself. We do blind readings, and stories with identifying information will be immediately requested for a document without.

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

A: We do accept cover letters, but they are optional. List of previous publication credits are ultimately not taken into consideration in our review process. We accept writers both new and experienced.

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

A: We have multiple people reading a story from beginning to end: at minimum 3, but at maximum around 50. Though the first few pages are often indicative of the quality of a story, we always read to the very end.

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

A: N/A

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

A: Stories start out being read by editorial staff, who vote on the story in a closed forum with detailed comments. If approved, editors vote on the story next, who take into account feedback from the editorial staff as well as considerations of publishability. If approved on that level, stories move up to the final level, where all editorial staff and editors discuss the story at an in-person meeting, usually a group of forty.

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

A: Publishers should embrace modern technologies like ebooks and marketing platforms, especially because non-traditional publishing often allows marginal and minority voices to come to the center of the publishing industry. Generally speaking, online platforms and submissions allow for a more equitable space, something that Berkeley Fiction Review heavily encourages.

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

A: Depending on the nearness of the publication deadline, we tend to perform substantive, line, and copy editing before publication, which can involve numerous drafts sent back and forth between editor and author. Ultimately, authors get a final say in approving edits, but we hope that authors take the suggestions seriously and with the knowledge that editors care passionately about their story as well.

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

A: We publish to O. Henry, Best American Short Stories, and Pushcart prizes.