Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Six Questions for Josh Hess, Publisher, Decades Review

Decades Review accepts poetry, prose, photography and art. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Josh Hess: Decades Review was started as a side project, by Josh Hess, to promote local expressions of writing and visual art in the state of Kentucky. However, by Issue Three, the online literary magazine had expanded at such a fast pace that it was practically world-wide. If I had a chance to start it over, I wouldn't have it any other way. It has become such an important part of my life, and I love the magazine and all of its contributors and readers.

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

JH: The very first thing I look for is originality. I look at each poem and I think about how often or not other people may write about what I am reading. What does this mean to the contributor? What does this mean to me? These are questions I ask myself when I read submissions. I want to read something that I know others can relate to. That is the most important part. I also look for an in-depth meaning. What I publish reflects the overall outlook of Decades Review. If I am publishing poems and prose that have no meaning, I feel that our reader level would drop. My goal is to keep Decades Review packed with meaningful poems that entice the user. Good grammar and sentence structure is also very important. You have no idea how many users send submissions that appear to be un-edited. It's difficult for readers to read a poem that they are unable to understand due to the poor sentence structure of the writer.

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

JH: The biggest factor would be the contributor's failed attempt to follow the submission guidelines. If I receive a submission that does not follow the guidelines, that is an immediate turn away. Always. If you cannot take a moment to read our guidelines, then you are unfortunately wasting our time and your own. We also see a lot of submissions that are not very clear or sometimes lacking in creativity. Almost as if it were forced. We feel that writing should come to you, not the other way around.

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

JH: No. I always encourage the contributor to submit again at any time. I rarely ever provide feedback or send comments. I have been rejected many times, and most of us have. I would rather hear "This was not for us" as opposed to "You should have done THIS...". Most contributors are not looking for negative feedback. Personally, I feel that a lot of literary journals try to provide advice but they are doing so in a negative way. I never want to make any contributors feel insecure about their writing.

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

JH: Writing is difficult. Not everyone is the same. Not everyone writes the same, either. Writing for the sake of your own personal expression is often how you create significant, mind-blowing pieces. Write for yourself and never for an audience. If you're lucky, you'll write something that is easily related to by any reader. 

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

JH: What makes you want to keep Decades Review alive? I would have to say that there is nothing more pleasing than offers such as this one right now. You came to me and asked me to answer these questions for you. I am very grateful that you did. I want to have a hand in this community that we have formed, even if it isn't a big impact in the long run. I want to look at these sites and see all of the wonderful words that are contributed from around the world. That alone makes every part of this worth it. 

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

NEXT POST: 7/12--Six Questions for Terrie Leigh Relf, Editor of Bloodbond 

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