Friday, June 27, 2014

Six Questions for Susannah Martin, Editor, Estuary

Estuary publishes fiction, nonfiction, poetry and art. Read the complete guidelines here -

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Susannah Martin: I had been the head editor of my homeschool co-op’s newspaper and then literary magazine for a few years, and I really enjoyed it. When I left, I decided to create my own literary magazine the way I wanted it. Originally, I had intended it to be a high school literary magazine, which is the way the very first issue was formatted. However, after the first issue, I had a hard time getting enough submissions, so I decided to open it up to people of all ages, and that’s how Estuary was born.

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

SM: Quality, quality, and quality. I’m looking for work of quality. I don’t ask for much else. Proper grammar and spelling is a must, and it needs to be interesting.

SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?

SM: There’s not really one thing that I get the most that turns me off, and the answer depends on what that submission is. For the sections like the “Poet Garden” and “Gallery,” I’m not very picky. However, when it comes to the “Story Corner,” “Review,” and “Essays” sections, I am looking for structure and grammar. Therefore, submissions lacking either of those will not be accepted. For instance, I’ve turned away short stories that showed promise, but were lacking a decent ending. If a writer’s story doesn’t have an identifiable beginning, middle, and end, then I won’t accept it.

Also, profanity and sexual content are prohibited in every section. I have turned away contributors for this. However, if the work overall is good, I might simply ask the contributor to revise the problem parts out of it.

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

SM: Absolutely. When I was first starting out, I remember getting rejected and not knowing what I did wrong. As far as I’m concerned, not telling someone why you’ve rejected them just adds insult to injury. Now, when I have to reject someone, I always try to give some constructive criticism. It’s not always much, but I always try to say something that the contributor can use to help him/herself improve.

SQF: There’s a section in the magazine for essays, where writers can “write on whatever subject you like.” Anything? Really?

SM: Pretty much. Like I said before, I’m looking for quality. The essay section is supposed to be broad. That’s why I leave it with no topic. As long as the writer adheres to the rule of no profanity or sexual content, and the work is interesting to read, I’m perfectly willing to accept it.

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

SM: How long should submissions be? That would have been a good one.

My answer is, usually about 4 pages or less. It pains me the most when I receive a fantastic submission that is just too long to include in Estuary. I have to admit that I get it. I’m a writer myself, so I understand the compulsion to write and then just keep writing. My first short story was over 8 pages long. I get it. Unfortunately, I must put a limit on the number of pages I can include, and that limit is about 4. For the record, anything less than 4 pages is perfectly fine and there is a tiny bit of wiggle room with the 4 page limit.

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

NEXT POST: 7/3--Six Questions for Grant Faulkner, Editor, 100 Word Story

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