Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.
A: Tender and genre-defying
Q: What other current publications (or publishers) do you admire most?
A: We have affinity with other online journals like PANK, Smokelong, dogzplot, The Summerset Review,storySouth, and Necessary Fiction. We like journals that embrace new voices and styles but consider traditional prose and poetry an old, always-welcome friend.
Q: If you publish writing, who are your favorite writers? If you publish art, who are your favorite artists?
A: We love Cormac McCarthy, Mary Gaitskill, JD Salinger, Virginia Woolf, Aimee Bender, Peter Cameron, Graham Greene, Ernest Hemingway, Terese Svoboda, Sam Lipsyte, Madison Smartt Bell, and hell, even Joyce Carol Oates.
We've already published Terese Svoboda Madison Smartt Bell. We'd love to publish you as well.
Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?
A: We don't mind working with new authors, asking for rewrites. We like any genre, as long as it has some literary bent to it. We don't mind a good western or sci-fi, and we'll judge it using the same criteria as traditional literary prose. Our waiting times are reasonable; our staff love what they do and don't mind having conversation with you about your work.
Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?
A: Really knock us out in first sentence, the first paragraph. If we feel the story is taking too long to build, then the potential online reader will also, and we'll reject it. Weed out trite, overused phrases and adjectives/adverbs. They bug us. In fact, so do most adjectives and adverbs. And we never accept stories with the word "very" in them. Create characters we care about--be tender with them, but not cute. We only like cute in baby animals. Don't send us baby animals. Send us pictures of baby animals, but not embedded in computer viruses. We like stories, not ideas. Make sure your story is an organic story and not a frame of an idea.
We like when you buy our print journals and enjoy the authors whose work we found exceptional, even if your cat winds up peeing on the journal (yes, it happens). We can always send you a new one.
Q: Describe the ideal submission.
A: Starts fast. The language is striking but lean. There's lots of action, characters whose motivations aren't exactly broadcast to us but fall within the realms of common sense. Surprise at the end, but not in a bad way. Make us think about the story for hours afterward. Make us resolve to write one just like it, changing the names, the time, the setting. Make us realize the magic of the story is the sum of its parts. Make us realize we're not worthy.
Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?
A: Submitting too often. We realized that it's often hard to figure out any journal's likes and dislikes down to the t, but we often feel that submitters throw shit to the wall (the wall being us) and see what sticks. Read a couple of our issues. Get an idea of what's stuck to us in the past.
Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?
A: Not very much. We actually don't read cover letters very much. The story will sell itself, in our opinion with or without the author telling us where his or her MFA is or isn't from or where he or she's been published before.
Q: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?
A: Sometimes it's only the first paragraph. Sometimes it's the whole thing, which is passed onto the next editor with reservations. Sometimes a story will "sit" because it's too good to be rejected but not good enough to be accepted. Some of these are sent back to the author with suggested revisions. Some are simply rejected after other submissions have been accepted.
Q: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?
A: We'll make sure it hasn't appeared anywhere online (even on an author's blog).
Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?
A: Very hectic, but I'm sure everyone tells you that, so I will tell you I'm sitting under an umbrella in the Virgin Islands with a Corona, a plate of maguro sushi, and a laptop.
Q: How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?
A: Very! Although we could do more. We're been sitting on the idea of podcasting for a year. It's not a matter of a lack of excitement so much as a lack of time to implement new technologies. All of our editors work full time at their jobs, and some are in school, and sometimes there's only a few minutes to read submissions and not much else. But we dream of tweeting and keeping up appearances at Fictionaut and having lively debates on our blog.