The Copperfield Review is a quarterly journal publishing historical fiction, poetry and nonfiction. Read the complete guidelines here.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
- Submissions that follow our guidelines exactly as stated. There are certain things we need from authors as we work through the submission process, and writers who follow our specific guidelines are showing that they are professional writers who are careful with their presentation.
- Strong writing. Of course, what makes strong writing is different for each editor, which makes the submitting process especially frustrating for writers. I personally tend to be drawn to writing that is more poetic in nature.
- We love to receive history-based nonfiction or creative nonfiction submissions at Copperfield. For every edition, we receive around 200 fiction submissions, of which we publish between 8-12. For the same edition we receive 1-2 nonfiction submissions. So when a submission is nonfiction it automatically stands out from the crowd.
SQF: What common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a submission?
MA: When authors don’t follow our guidelines exactly as stated, they’re making the review process more difficult for us. Our guidelines exist for a reason, and that reason is to give us some method to our madness while we weed through around 200 submissions per edition. For example, we have received many submissions that were not historical in nature though we are a journal of historical fiction.
SQF: Will you publish a submission an author posted on a personal blog?
MA: We do publish previously published work at Copperfield, no matter where it has been published before.
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?
MA: While form letters aren’t fun to send out or receive, they are a necessary evil for some editors. At Copperfield, we are a tiny staff with day jobs, families, and other life obligations, and since we receive so many submissions per edition, we simply do not have the time to comment on work we reject, nor do we have time to respond to queries about why the work was turned down.
When we turn a piece down, it’s nothing about the writer’s talent or even the story itself. We have a certain writing style that we’re drawn to (as I said, I personally have a taste for more poetic styles). Also, sometimes we turn a piece down because we received ten submissions about the same historical period for the same edition so we have to turn nine of them down. Sometimes we turn work down because the author didn’t follow our guidelines. Often, pieces we turned down are picked up by other journals. That’s why writers have to learn to say “Oh well” (along with the mandatory expletives) and continue sending their work out even after other journals turn it down—because literary taste is so subjective. If it wasn’t right for us it might be right for someone else. You need to keep trying. And you need a thick skin if you’re going to be a writer. I know. I’ve been writing myself for a long time and I’ve received so many rejection letters I’ve lost count. But if I had given up I wouldn’t have received my published credits, and those are worth their weight in gold to me.
SQF: What is the best part of being an editor?
MA: One of the things I am most proud of about The Copperfield Review is that it has been the first publication credit for many up and coming writers. Having the chance to connect with readers and publish writers from all over the world has been a great thrill. We’re based in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, and we have readers from across the U.S., around the U.K., India, Japan, the Middle East, and lately we have been receiving a number of submissions from Africa, which is wonderful. It’s mind boggling to me when I do the Google Analytics search and I see where in the world Copperfield was read that day. The Copperfield Review is truly an international journal.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
The one question I’m asked most often is why I started The Copperfield Review. The answer is fairly simple. I write historical fiction myself, and about ten years ago I was looking for literary journals to send my work to and I couldn’t find any. I decided to start one of my own, and twelve years later Copperfield is still going strong. I refer to Copperfield as the journal that could because I started out knowing virtually nothing and now in 2013 Copperfield is known as a leading market for historical fiction. It just goes to show…you need to be willing to work hard and put yourself out there. You never know what good things might come from it.
Thank you, Meredith. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
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