Friday, February 1, 2013

Six Questions for Lisa Andrews and Meredith Davis, Editors, Apeiron Review


Apeiron Review is a Pennsylvania based literary magazine that publishes poetry, prose, and photography. Read the complete guidelines 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?

Lisa:
  1. Anyone that fails to follow the submissions guidelines is rejected. We have guidelines so that we can streamline the reading process and report back to our authors as quickly as possible.
  2. Unpolished work will be rejected. Meredith and I both have day jobs that keep us pretty busy. We'd love to take the time to help authors with the revision process, and on rare occasions, we do, but for the most part, if a piece has potential but looks like a first draft we will reject it. That doesn't mean that a single spelling mistake will send a piece to the trash bin, only that pieces with more than a handful of errors per page are probably going to be too much work.
  3. We definitely get a lot of pieces that are very good, but that aren't right for our magazine. Until we have a few issues up, though, I feel like that's just going to happen. If a more suitable magazine comes to mind when I'm reading  a piece, though, I'll include the suggestion with the rejection. 

Meredith:

My top three reasons are pretty easy for me. 
  1. If it is boring. That may sound harsh, but I would want to know if my writing has someone skipping to the next paragraph to find out "if something actually happens." We have a lot of submissions to read and if my interest can't be held then I'm not going to force it, or offer it to our audience.
  2. If I've heard it before. This is difficult because we all know (or think we know) there are only so many stories to tell. But if I can guess what this is about, who this character is, and what is going to happen then it usually gets rejected. I'm all for new perspectives on old ideas, but those get published, so it's not an issue. 
  3. If it's not quite there yet. We get submissions from great authors of all ages and skill levels. Sometimes we get something that has a hint, a feeling, a sparkle of something real real good. It's really exciting for me to get these types of submissions. Although, they get rejected, because, like I said, they're not quite there, it makes me a little giddy to know that potential is out there. I try to let these authors (who are usually young) know that it just needs more work. I try to encourage that they put the piece away for a bit and come back to it after they have new and different experiences to pull from.


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. 

Lisa:
Plot and character are fairly equal in importance, but a character without life is irritating. No one wants to listen to a puppet lecture on the author's personal beliefs.

Meredith:
Character is more important for me, but only because you're asking and I'm forcing myself to choose. I think a character can have a plot structure. So, if we're deep in their mind, but "nothing" is happening I would say that can be just as intriguing as any other actions in the world of the story. I can also forgive a mediocre plot if the characters are dynamic. "Life, friends, is boring," therefore it must be filled with interesting characters.


SQF: What advice can you offer new authors hoping to publish their first submission?

Lisa:
Always send in your best, keep trying, and don't let rejection letters keep you down. It's just one more place you know not to send that particular piece to, but on that note, please don't send us pieces every day as fast as you can. Sure, I'll learn your name very quickly, but it isn't going to score you any points.

Meredith:
Keep revising. Keep sharing. Read publicly at open mic nights, to friends who will listen, join a writers group and learn what gets a good response. Take criticism, but know that you can always "throw it away." Not everyone who has a critique knows what they're talking about. And keep submitting.


SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?

Lisa:
I've learned that all writers at all levels are amazing people. They try and, succeed or fail, keep moving. They're a beautiful and supportive community, and I'm proud to offer a place to showcase their work. 

Meredith:
I've learned a lot about what doesn't work. When a piece is written really well that craftsmanship is almost transparent. You have to go back and analyze why it worked well, and that's a major part of the joy of reading for me. When a piece is poorly done it's easy to pick up on it and say, "Well, talking bananas are a terrible symbol for totalitarian regimes. I'll be sure to never do that." I've also learned there are more stories out there that need to be heard and that need to be written. That's ultimately why I wanted to do this magazine with Lisa. Stories are so important for culture, life, learning, and our minds. We need them and there can never be enough. 


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

Lisa:
Maybe, "What advice would you give to an inexperienced writer or someone who wants to improve their craft?" I volunteered, for about a year, as a slush reader for a popular fantasy magazine. It was one of the best experiences I've ever had within the industry. Learning about the submission/rejection process from the publishing side vs the writers side was invaluable. I learned more about what not to do when writing or submitting than at any craft workshop.

Meredith:
"What do you have planned for the future?" We are always discussing how to make it better, better, and more better. (We don't frequently say "more better," but in this case I'll allow it. I am the co-editor after all.) We have hopes to make the magazine more accessible, more aesthetically pleasing, more fun to navigate, and possibly in a real life version that you can hold. Being able to hold my literature is really important to me, and I stare at glowing screens enough in my professorial life, so a print version is key in my mind. And a little cash for everyone involved wouldn't hurt.

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

NEXT POST: 2/5--Six Questions for Dustin Luke Nelson, Editor, InDigest

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