Editor Interview: The Summerset Review

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

A: The thoughtful and airy

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

A: Alaska Quarterly Review, Gettysburg Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, Bakeless Prize collections, Graywolf Press

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

A: Aimee Bender, John Cheever, Elizabeth Crane, Lisa Glatt, Tod Goldberg, Steven Millhauser, Katherin Nolte, Shellie Zacharia

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

A: We do not solicit and treat submissions objectively, regardless of who wrote them; we have no slush pile.

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

A: Read at least two issues to get a flavor of what we publish.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: Unpretentious, thoughtful, not overly obscure, not too dark, good use of an extended metaphor, beautifully crafted language that works both as a whole and on the individual sentence/line-level.

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

A: Logistically, the only problem has been exceeding the word count (8000 words for prose). Content-wise, we see many submissions carrying death or serious illness as a main theme when we rarely publish such material. The same holds true for pieces containing much harsh language, anger, and/or argumentative dialogue. One other element which will quickly turn us off is with regard to the narration: repeated and careless use of the same word.

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

A: Basically nothing. The only situation that might influence us to give extra attention to a submission, is when the writer clearly demonstrates he or she has read what we have published, and is sending work our way because of this. We have found that when submitters cite details and provide comments on material we have published, the work they are submitting, on average, is substantially more compatible.

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

A: It has ranged from simply the first two sentences to fully reading the piece four or five times over the course of two months. For prose, about one in ten submissions are read to completion at least one time.

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

A: Most pieces need to stand the test of time over a month or two. Subsequent reads of a piece need to impress as much as the first read.

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

A: The beginnings of about 10-20 pieces are read online in one sitting. Pieces that seem to have some potential are then skimmed through to the end, online. Of these 10-20, perhaps 5 will stand out. These are printed and saved for a time (usually within the week) where a more critical read can be done, using colored markers. Of the 5, 1 or 2 are usually read to completion and kept in a Maybe folder, to be read again weeks later. We always have suggested changes and markups to prose submissions, some minor, some major. In the eight years of our magazine's existence, only two submitters have retracted their work due to our comments, while some well-published authors over the years have been very thankful and appreciative of our careful editing. The biggest joy we have is when we read that shining submission that wows us to death, because of the realization that the author thought highly enough of us to send in such work.

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

A: The most important thing that needs to be embraced right now is electronic submissions. Publications that still only allow print subs are placing themselves more and more at a disadvantage as many of the good writers aren't bothering any more to send print subs. Also, pubs that continue to insist on print subs are now starting to give the impression they never really cared about unsolicited work to begin with, because they are not being flexible on accepted means of submitting these days.