SQF: Why did you start this magazine?
Ken Honeywell: We started Punchnel's because we love writers and because we could. I observed that there were lots of excellent writers in the world who were posting lots of stuff on the Internet that, in some cases, lots of people were reading and no one was paying for. My partner and I run a successful ad agency, and we decided it would be nice to run an online publication that would pay writers a little bit for their contributions. We also felt as if we could build some regional and local--we're in Indianapolis--energy about writing and writers.
And, frankly, we just get off on this stuff. Someone once told me that Punchnel's was "your golf game." That's pretty accurate.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
- Is it well written? We don't generally have time to mess with bad writing, even if the subject matter is interesting.
- Is it provocative? We want to see things you think might not work elsewhere, and things that take a contrarian view of the subject matter. These are consistently our best-read posts.
- Is there more? We love well-written one-off pieces. But we love it even more if you have something bigger you'd like to do. We're open to nonfiction series, ongoing reportage/opinion/or columns, and serial novels, and would love to have more.
SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?
KH: Bad writing and sloppiness. We get a lot of submissions. We stop reading as soon as it's clear the writing isn't up to our standards.
SQF: You have a series called Second Chance, in which you ask authors to take a creative work they didn’t like the first time they encountered it and revisit the work to see if they feel differently about the work now, How did you come up with this idea?
KH: It was our poetry editor Jenny Walton's idea. It was born of the idea that our opinions change as we get older, and some books and films and albums we loved at one point don't really hold up over time. And vice-versa: something you didn't "get" when you were younger may sing to you today. We'd love to see more of these pieces, actually.
SQF: Your guidelines say you like humor. What makes you laugh?
KH: Absurdity. The unexpected. We're surprisingly not terribly snarky, although we almost certainly fall on the "snark" side of the snark/smarm continuum.
But we love Rolli's cartoons. We love the pieces we've been running by Andy Bankin, and the stuff we run by Jen Bingham is funny in a way we find charming.
Actually, our sense of humor is pretty broad. We try to stay away from corny stuff, but we're pretty open. If you think it's funny, send it.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
KH: How can writers endear themselves to you?
A: When we publish your piece, you can help us promote it. We don't advertise; we're not on the newsstand. Sometimes, we pay to promote posts on Facebook. But if lots of people are going to see your post, we need your help.
And it would help us if you'd read us and follow us on Facebook and Twitter and tell your friends about us and occasionally pimp some of the stuff we publish that you didn't write. It's just possible that we could pay writers more someday, but it will take an increase in readership to do that. We appreciate any way you can help us get more readers more regularly (including you).
Thank you, Ken. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
NEXT POST: 5/13--Six Questions for Carolyn Keogh, Editor, Miniature Magazine