Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Six Questions for David Cotrone, Editor, Used Furniture Review

Used Furniture Review publishes fiction, nonfiction, poetry and photography. While there is no length requirement, works under 6,000 words are given priority. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a story and why?

DC: It's hard to give just three; really we want the piece as a whole to sing. We want to really feel something by the story's end. We want it to stay with us. Whether it be fiction, nonfiction or poetry, we want the writer to really mean it. I don't think I can answer this question in a fair way. We really know what we're looking for when we see it. We trust writers. If you're a writer, we hope you trust yourself.

SQF: When reading a story, what clues tell you the story was written by a novice author?

DC: I'm hesitant about that word "novice." I understand its use, but I'm not sure what it means. We've published several stories by authors who haven't really been published elsewhere, and on the other hand, we've published work by people who have been published in many reputable places. So here's what we look for, in work done by a novice or not: each word in the story should matter. We tend to like stories that are lean rather than overwrought (that's not to say we prefer shorter stories; we're talking style). We like to see honesty. We like to see some sort of depth. We like to see writers who aren't afraid. We like to see writers who are terrified. When a story has dialogue, we want the dialogue to mean something. We want it to hurt. We want readers to read each story twice.

SQF: What other common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a story?

DC: This might be callow, but if we see work with a lot of exclamation points then that's usually an immediate turnoff.

SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a story?

DC: We wish we could reply personally to every story and poem we receive. Rejecting writing is the worst part of what we do; we really don't look forward to it. We're so grateful people trust us with their work and it's tough to let them down. We do encourage people to submit again, though, if we reject what they send us. And we sincerely mean that. Often we reject a story by an author and the author comes right back with another one that's exactly what we're looking for.

SQF: What do you consider to be the primary responsibilities of an editor?

DC: Here's what we think our jobs are and what we hope we're doing: responding to submissions in a timely manner, giving each submission a fair shake (that means reading each submission several times), presenting each writer's work in a professional and accessible way, supporting writers and other editors and remaining humble: we realize that there are so many options for writers out there (and so many venues to choose from), we can't thank our contributors enough.

SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?

DC: I wish you asked how much we cared. And you know, we care a whole lot.

Thank you, David. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

NEXT POST: 5/6--Six Questions for Jeffrey S. Callico, Editor, Negative Suck

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