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Editor Interview: Lunch Ticket

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

A: Social Justice, Inclusive

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

A: Currently, I find myself attracted to journals that are open to different forms of storytelling, participate in cultural conversations, and most involve themselves in the literary community and conversation. I love when literary journals engage with other journals and are open to collaborations or partnerships. I love to see everyone's passion and new ways to engage readers and the comment in general. Right now I've been I've been following: The Rumpus, The Nasiona, Brave New Magazine, Split Lip Magazine, Jellyfish Review, Okay Donkey Magazine, and I'm sure I am missing several more!

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

A: Luckily, Lunch Ticket has a diverse editorial staff who read and love different writers. For me, Jeanette Winterson was the first author I read that made me think, yes, I want to do this. I love her passion, magical realism, intellectual curiosity. From her I found Virginia Woolf, who pulls me inside and through the skin of her characters. Maggie Nelson, Anne Carson, and Lidia Yuknavitch show me how to take the form the story needs. Katherine Boo and Richard Preston blow me away with their narrative nonfiction.

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

A: We read blind, but actively seek work from culturally diverse corners, and therefore publish a higher proportion of women writers and writers of color. We look for work with heart, poignancy, interesting turns of phrase, and a social conscience.
And as Lise Quintana, our previous EIC noted: our staff is much cuter, on the whole.

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

A: Besides the usual advice about spell checking, formatting, etc., (read the guidelines), we want to know why your story is important to the characters in it, to you as the writer, and to us. If you don't know why we should care, we don't either.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: We accept prose submissions up to 5,000 words, but the ideal is below 3,000 (under 750 for flash), in 12-point, black Times New Roman font with normal paragraphs and quotation marks, etc., and is sent through our submission manager without any identifying information on the submission. The poetry or prose has imagery, something we can connect with, something that astounds with its gravity, its scope, or its insight.
The subject matter of the ideal submission is something that's personal to the author and to the characters/narrator of the piece, but can be understood from a broader perspective. It has characters that a reader can feel strongly about (although not necessarily like), and treats those characters with compassion and clarity. It doesn't preach to the readers, nor try to tell them how to think or feel about the story, but lays out the facts of the case and gets out of the way.

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

A: Many submitters simply don't follow the submission guidelines. We read blind, and will automatically reject any piece submitted with identifying information.

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

A: We rarely even look at cover letters, at least not before reading a submission. We won't be swayed by a list of previous publication credits, or by a lack thereof. The work should sing for itself.

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

A: Our journal has grown, and while some of our editors will read a whole submission before declining, I encourage them to put a piece aside if they are not grabbed by the end of the first page. We give every piece our full attention, but can't get lost wallowing in pieces that we know are not right for our journal. So, writers, let the story evolve at the pace it needs, but grab us with your word choices, with the way you tell it. Give us a reason to keep reading.

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

A: Each piece is read by at least 3 editors, usually by 4, occasionally by 5 or more. After a solo read, the editors discuss the piece among their team members to determine if it's a good fit for the journal. The more editors to recommend it for publication, the stronger the pull.

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

A: I work full-time in the music industry, but spend about 30-40 hours a week on Lunch Ticket. Several hours a day are devoted to emails, either communicating direction of vision, workflow, advising team dynamics, or answering questions to help our submitters like in this Duotrope survey. I am no longer on the front lines of reading submissions, and rarely read something that has not already been accepted for publication. That said, I read every word that Lunch Ticket publishes, from the weekly subscriber newsletter to the weekly blog and Amuse-Bouche publications, to the final Lunch Ticket issue. In addition, I am often working on outreach projects targeted to communities whose writers we'd like to see submit, including YA writers, Literary Translators, and writers of color. My husband says he's a Lunch Ticket widower, but we still manage to have a house full of music and joy.

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

A: It's crucial for publishers to embrace modern technologies, which serve as conduits for writers to connect with us and each other. Lunch Ticket's online sites are optimized for tablets, phones, and computers. We only accept electronic submissions. Beyond this, Lunch Ticket's future will include, I hope, new narrative technologies that support and enhance the written word.