Editor Interview: Pinball

This interview is provided for archival purposes. The listing is not currently active.

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

A: Genre Blender

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

A: PANK, Diagram, Hobart, Black Warrior Review, Study Group (comics), Tin House, Lightspeed, Fantasy & Science Fiction, American Reader, Conjunctions, NY Tyrant and many more.

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

A: A smattering: David Means, Lydia Davis, Etgar Keret, George Saunders, Karen Joy Fowler, Helen DeWitt, Herman Melville, Alison Bechdel, Raymond Chandler, Maureen F. McHugh, Stephanie Vaughn, Morrissey, Bret Anthony Johnston.

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

A: We're named after the old-school analog game where the player follows a ball pinging from one place to another. In terms of Pinball the magazine, I like to think that one flipper is "speculative" and the other is "literary," and we're all careening and bouncing along. I want to publish the best, most exciting fiction that comes my way, and we at Pinball will do our utmost to get as many people as we can to read it.

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

A: Read what's in Pinball and if you think your piece fits holistically with what we do, send it our way. Or surprise us with something you don't see on the site. We're open to new ideas, new ways of approaching prose, and work that challenges the status quo of literary and genre fiction.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: For prose: A beginning that grabs the reader's attention and doesn't let go. A middle that surprises and an ending that satisfies. Clean copy--few, if any, spelling or grammatical mistakes--and a font that's a 12 point serif, like Times New Roman. For comics: a story versus a comic strip or gag cartoon.

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

A: Sending in a piece that's not quite polished and publishable yet. Addressing cover letters "To Whom it May Concern" (we have a masthead with names and titles, so submitters can know who to address submissions to).

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

A: Pinball has published stories by writers with multiple books and awards and stories by first-time authors. We don't turn away good work that's in our wheelhouse. That being said, I would recommend writers submitting to any literary magazine keep the bio short and the list of previous publications to four or fewer. I also encourage cover letters that are interesting!

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

A: I can't speak for the submission reading habits of the rest of Pinball staff, but if the story hasn't grabbed me by the second page (or earlier if it's a flash piece) then I'm inclined to reject without finishing. However, in that case I do wait a day and try to read the entire piece once more before making a final decision. If I read the entire submission, I read it usually twice before making a decision.

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

A: If a submission makes it through my preliminary screening process, it's read by two staff members and then again by me.

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

A: Reading submissions; assigning submissions to our crew; sending out rejections/acceptances/revise and resubmits; sending out solicitation emails to writers, comic artists, and visual artists; emailing with authors; website maintenance; laying out ebooks and general design work; chopping logs; mending fences.

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

A: Editors and authors benefit from social media, electronic submissions, and online publishing, no question. However, that doesn't mean traditional print outlets are somehow less important or outmoded.