Friday, June 10, 2016

Six Questions for Sara Crowley, Editor, The Forge Literary Magazine

The Forge publishes one piece of prose (under 3000 words) each week. Stories are selected by a rotating group of 14 editors, whose preferences are clearly stated on the site. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: What is the goal of The Forge?

Sara Crowley: Simply to provide a place for superb writing. We’re writers and our aim is to make The Forge as writer friendly as possible, so we pay, we respond quickly, and we are open about our submission statistics.

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

SC: Firstly, make me feel something. Stories are how we communicate with each other and reading a story that leaves me blank is like being talked at by a dull stranger; I’m looking for the conversation to end so I can leave. Second and third; originality and craft. In a well-written story the writing doesn't show and reading is a pleasure.

I’m totally rooting for the writers who trust their work to us and I read each story hoping it’s brilliant. It’s a thrill discovering and sharing great writing.

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

SC: It’s a little irritating when people don't follow guidelines or the story is peppered with typos and spelling mistakes. Other than that it’s pretty subjective, which is why it’s cool we have 14 editors with widely differing tastes. Hopefully The Forge will never seem predictable.

SQF: Does The Forge provide comments regarding why a piece wasn’t accepted?

SC: Sometimes we will, if we see potential in a piece and think our comments might be useful. It’s down to the individual reader to decide if they would like to send a note.

SQF: Will The Forge publish a story posted on an author's personal website/blog?

SC: No, we would like shiny, new words please.

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

SC: I’d like you to ask me about our quick responses. I did see some concern expressed on social media by writers who felt we might not have considered their work carefully enough when their stories were rejected on the day they submitted. Our aim truly is to be as writer friendly as possible and we don't want to tie up work for months and months. I assure everyone that each story is assigned to two editors straight away. If one of those two readers votes “maybe” it goes to a third reader. If one of the two readers votes “yes” it goes straight to the two editors currently selecting work. If one reader votes “no” it still gets read by a second reader, so the absolute minimum is that two editors have read your work. We are part of an international writing forum, The Fiction Forge, and with our different time zones we can be reading, assigning, declining, and accepting, 24 hours a day. A swift rejection will have received no less care than a rejection sent two weeks later and it seems daft to me to wait. If you haven’t heard from us for a month or so, someone is strongly considering your story as one of their picks. Obviously, if we get heaps of subs we won’t be able to keep up the pace, but for now, we’re proud to be speedy.

Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog; it’s an excellent resource for writers.

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


  1. Speedy is good! Places like the forge that offer occasional comments and quick responses are my favorite kinds of publications to submit to. Two out of my three rejections from Forge had comments that were very helpful.

  2. I agree, a response within 2 weeks is a blessing and comments, icing on the cake. @sheilamgood at Cow Pasture Chronicles

  3. It is just what I was looking for and quite thorough as well. Thanks for posting this, I saw a couple other similar posts but yours was the best so far. The ideas are strongly pointed out and clearly emphasized.