Monday, October 17, 2011

Six Questions for Erin McKnight, Founding Editor & Publisher, Queen's Ferry Press

"Queen’s Ferry Press publishes collections of literary fiction, yet our tastes are eclectic and our definition of collection is open to reinterpretation and reimagining. We aren’t as concerned with adhering to a specific word count as we are with receiving fully realized compilations—meaning we will accept groupings from short short length to episodic works of 40,000 words, and all manner of fiction arrangements in-between." Learn more here.

SQF: 1. What does Queen’s Ferry Press offer authors that other presses don't?

EM: It is the aim of this press to celebrate writers that render literary collections which may not fit neatly within the conventional bounds of other fiction venues. Our intent is to offer groupings that may have been disqualified from publication elsewhere simply due to their variation in length, shape, or form. At Queen’s Ferry, such aberration is honored; we welcome those who color outside narrative lines.

SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a manuscript?

EM: Emotional depth, attention to connective elements, and adept styling will separate a manuscript from the pack. I want to be moved; writing should resonate. I hope for mastery in construction, in its associated tools and techniques. I lie awake many nights thinking about how words become phrases and phrases sentences; arranging your narrative with care, in terms of language and how it is punctuated, helps me sleep. (I have an infant—I need every minute I can get!)

SQF: What major mistakes do authors make when pitching their books?

EM: It may seem twee, but failing to practice courtesy, consideration, and common sense. Addressing the editor as “Mr.” when she is indeed a “Ms.,” failing to alert that same editor within a respectable period of time that a manuscript has been accepted elsewhere, and overlooking submission guidelines are glaring indicators of a writer who doesn’t want a publisher to want their work.

SQF: This is a new press. Do you plan to publish collections from previously unpublished authors?

EM: Absolutely! I ask for a cover letter that includes a list of any previously published stories or portions, but my goal behind this request is more about getting to know a writer than it is about estimating their prior experience. If the collection is strong, whether it comes from the hand of an established or an emerging author, it will speak for itself—distinguish your manuscript by sharing a little something about yourself.

SQF: What is your advice to new, unpublished authors looking for a publisher or agent?

EM: Take yourself seriously and treat your writing as a business. Allow the dust to settle on a manuscript before sending it out for consideration, approach the submission process and your target publisher(s) with respect, and remember that no editorial decision is ever personal. The literary market may feel roped-off to an inexperienced writer, but skill will ultimately come up trumps.

SQF: What question do you wish I’d asked that I didn’t? And how would you answer it?

EM: Why this kind of undertaking is important in the modern literary world.

The social networking revolution has engendered the kind of access capable of catapulting unpublished writers into the realm of authordom. Projects like Six Questions For… offer crucial insight into, and work to demystify, the publication process—the maligned editor, breathing fire on an ever-growing slush pile, is hopefully an image that will continue to fade as the work that takes place behind the desk continues to be laid bare.

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

NEXT POST: 10/20--Six Questions for John R. Guevin, Editor, Biographical Publishing Company

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