This interview is provided for archival purposes. The listing is not currently active.
Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.
A: Philosophical time bombs
Q: What other current publications (or publishers) do you admire most?
A: Love Black Warrior Review, Beecher's, Gigantic Sequins, PANK, elimae, Iowa Review, Third Coast, THRUSH Poetry Journal.
As far as publishers go, I think OTHER Press and Europa Editions are putting out fantastic work, as are Mud Luscious, Copper Canyon, Graywolf and Wave Books.
Q: If you publish writing, who are your favorite writers? If you publish art, who are your favorite artists?
A: Borges, Anne Sexton and Rilke are at the top of my list these days. Three of my favorite contemporary writers are Amélie Nothomb, Mark Slouka and Junot Diaz. Others? Whitman, Hart Crane, Keats, Orwell, Vonnegut, Lermontov, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Margaret Mitchell, Flannery O'Connor, Auden, John Kennedy Toole. I'll stop there.
Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?
A: The quality of the writing we publish - its thought-provoking nature, its exceptional beauty, and the deep understanding (no matter how transitory) our contributors have of life - is what sets us apart. We set out specifically to publish exceptional stories and poetry that will move readers long after the first look. We expect you to come back to it and read it again to make sure you saw it correctly the first time. To ask - what did that really mean? What did what I thought it meant say about me?
Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?
A: First of all, read our journal. Sample content is abundant both from our regular issues and our supplements. You will have a very clear idea of our aesthetic (and a good time) if you take the time to do this.
Read your own work with scrutiny, several times, before you send it to us. Did you write it today and you're in a creative mood? Stop and wait. Read it again in a few days. You'll see it in a whole new light; take out the red pen and be objective. Make it perfect.
Our reading period is year-round, so there's no rush and plenty of time to get acquainted with us.
Q: Describe the ideal submission.
A: The cover letter is short and to the point and neither cocky nor timid. Maybe the cover letter even points to a specific question or purpose the author has - but it doesn't ask for advice.
The piece of writing has been lovingly revised, well-formatted, and it follows our submission guidelines - it contains no identifying information, doesn't exceed length restrictions, etc. It contains no sloppy errors or weird fonts.
Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?
A: Our submitters frequently submit multiple pieces at once, or re-submit immediately after rejection. Our guidelines clearly state otherwise. Please just send us one thing at a time. Waiting benefits you.
Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?
A: All writing is judged on its own merit. You can of course include a brief list of previous publications or accomplishments. There is absolutely no need to include any other information.
Q: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?
A: Unless the piece is incomprehensible or so poor that it precludes enjoyment or understanding, everything is read from beginning to finish.
Pieces are generally read, voted on, then read again a week to two later when the editor is in a different mood to make certain no decisions are based on the outside influences of weather, time of day, the editors' personal lives, lack of stimulating beverages, etc.
Q: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?
A: Every piece we read is considered for a period of time before we accept it. Friends and volunteer readers are often consulted when there are several pieces vying for a spot. Finally, we search for it to make sure it wasn't already published somewhere else.
Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?
A: When I start work for the day, I generally read something that I love to cleanse my palate - a favorite poem or a story from an almanac or collection. Then I make a go at the submissions. I might read one, or I might read twenty. If I accept something, I will immediately begin to format it or, in the case of a long story, initiate a conversation with the author about any necessary edits for grammar or style or length that may be required, which is my favorite part of the day.
Q: How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?
A: These technologies are paramount to our success at The Cossack. Our editors are not geographically close. It is key to our success that we use technology to reach out to each other and to authors and contributors, and that we promote our journal in places like Twitter, Facebook, here on Duotrope, etc. Since we do not pre-date the internet, there is no other way for us to branch out. There is no old way for us to reach back to.
That said, physical copies of our journal are very important. I don't want us to exist solely in the ephemera. One of the things I am most eager to do is to put the work of brillant authors in the hands - the physical hands - of readers. To eventually put those authors on stage to give readings that an audience will physically hear is another important goal of ours. I see technology as the means to efficiently and economically reach those goals.