UP is an online magazine for art and literature published bimonthly. UP exists as a space dedicated to writers and artists driven to create by, of, and for the body. Some issues are themed. Read the complete guidelines here.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
CD: (1) Bodies. The body is of primary interest to UP, so submissions that speak to us on that level, however loosely or tightly you’ve taken that, are the most exciting to us. (2) Fun. We like writing that makes us feel things we weren’t feeling before we opened your submission. Writing should have a heart and a soul. If we don’t feel like you’ve been enjoying yourself while you were writing, than you’ve submitted to the wrong place. (3) Invention. We like it when a submission surprises us. We want to be taken someplace new, somewhere we haven’t thought of already. Subvert our expectations. We like pieces we don’t know how to format. If you make us feel excited about what you’re doing, you’ll find a home here.
SQF: What are the top three reasons a submission is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to the above question and why?
CD: (1) Pornography. This might come as a shock to some people when they first discover us, but we’re really not interested in straight up erotica. We’ve published and loved some pretty hardcore stuff, but it always has a heart and soul to it, something deeper driving it, whether emotionally or intellectually. If we can’t figure out what you meant to say beyond the sex, we won’t like it. (2) Quickshit. If it doesn’t feel like you’ve put a lot of thought into what you’ve typed, we won’t get a lot out of it. (3) Not following directions. We accept a lot of things: prose, poetry, artwork, videos, even (sometimes, especially) work that defies labels. We accept submissions in the body of the email and in attachments. We’ve even accepted files too large to send via email. If you demonstrate that you haven’t read our few guidelines (previously unpublished work only, up to 2000 words of prose and/or 6 poems, recognition of the theme as it applies, inclusion of a bio) it will have to be a hell of a submission for us to overcome that. In general, we’ll still read it (or at least tell you why we can’t, if it’s insurmountable), but be aware we might do it a bit grudgingly.
SQF: Which of the following statements is true and why? Plot is more important than character. Character is more important than plot. Plot and character are equally important.
CD: Oh, character is definitely more important than plot. No contest. I’ll champion the heck out of a compelling character. Meticulous worry about careful construction of plot seems very ‘literary fiction’ to me. UP isn’t really trying to take itself so seriously in that way. Personally, I remember characters long after I remember details of how a book ended, even if I thought it was the best ending ever, in the moment.
SQF: What advice can you offer new authors hoping to publish their first submission?
CD: Be mindful of where you’re sending your work. When you’re first starting out, it can seem so easy to just blindly send out submissions. There are so many publications on the internet, reading through them all and getting a feel for them individually before submitting can seem daunting. But it’s really the most important thing you can do.
If you’re submitting to UP, say hi! There are only two of us running the mag here, myself and Jackson Nieuwland. We look at each submission on an individual basis. Nobody is given preference for being a big name or someone we know, at least not intentionally (unless we’ve solicited them, which is pretty rare at UP). We’re proud to say we’ve been the first to publish more than one of our writers, and we support them as much as we can.
SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?
CD: There is good writing and there is bad writing, and it’s super easy to spot the difference. I know I’ve said it already, but I’m not afraid to repeat it—writing that is good, that is meaningful, and that sticks with you has a heart and soul of its own. You can tell so quickly whether a person is putting everything they’ve got into their writing. Writing that fails at this breaks my heart. No one is making you write; why do it at all if you’re not passionate about it? I never want to send something out and have an editor think I’m half-assing it. Sure, I want other people to read what I’m writing. But if it isn’t real, if I’m not excited about my work, then I’m not putting it out in the world expecting others to be excited about it for me.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I’d asked that I didn’t? And how would you answer it?
Q: Who is the sexiest editor at UP?
A: Jackson Nieuwland, hands down. I know he wouldn’t agree, but that just makes him even sexier, right?
Thank you, Carolyn. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
NEXT POST: 1/25--Six Questions for Sara Rauch, Editor, Cactus Heart