Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Six Questions for Melissa Swantkowski, Fiction Editor, Bodega

Bodega releases digital issues on the first Monday of every month, featuring poetry, prose to 3500 words, and quarterly interviews by established and emerging writers. Read the complete guidelines here.

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

MS: Bodega releases on the first Monday of every month, and each digital issue offers a handful of essential pieces that you can digest in one sitting. That means we’re looking for writing that is more than just competent, for stories that stick with us and surprise. It also means we’re looking for short-ish pieces—under 3500 words. Ideally we want reading Bodega to be like going to the corner store to grab a can of tuna and finding a red velvet cake, for free! 

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

MS: The most common mistake by far is that we get submissions that aren’t quite done. That sounds like a subjective thing (and maybe it is). But writing short pieces (we know from our own struggles) is hard. Many of the stories we receive feel like they want to reach a little farther without getting lengthier, and that’s a difficult thing to achieve. Often, it seems that if the writer had sat with it a little longer, the piece would have reached that greatness. 

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

MS: Not usually. That said, one thing I really enjoy is working with writers on edits. I sometimes respond to submissions that catch my eye but aren't quite there by asking if the writer is interested in working together to shape the piece. 

SQF: Will you publish a submission an author posted on a personal blog? 

MS: No. But we're open to pieces that have appeared elsewhere in other non-print formats. For example, an upcoming piece is also being produced as a radio play (look for it in June). 

SQF: What do you want authors to know about the submissions you reject and how authors should respond? Along this same idea, do you mind if authors reply with polite questions about the comments they receive?

MS: We reject submissions for a number or reasons, and not always because we don't like them. Because we publish such short issues, and because each one is carefully curated, sometimes we just can't find a place for a particular piece within a reasonable amount of time. We don't like to leave writers in limbo for months and months, so we decline the piece and hope they’ll submit again in the future.  And in the meantime, we hope they have great luck placing their piece. We're writers too, so it’s important to us to treat submitters with respect. 

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


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

NEXT POST: 5/24--Six Questions for Alan A. Bedard, Editor, Digital-SF

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