SQF: Why did you start this magazine?
Jo Simmonds: I worked as a volunteer reader for PANK magazine a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. I wanted to see if I could start a quirky rebellious online magazine which had a mainstream atmosphere.
As a writer seeking publication in literary journals I also wanted to find out what it is like from the other side of the desk as an editor. There's no substitute for first hand experience in my view and I learnt a great deal from the first moment I began publishing.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
- A great first sentence with a good hook.
- Different in some way to stand out next to other journals online.
- Well written and edited. If it's ready to go it will save me time.
SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?
- A bad covering email - my name has been misspelt or no biography has been included. Only in truly exceptional circumstances will I look past that.
- Any of my guidelines being flouted.
- Poorly written or edited stories or poetry.
- People not even looking at one story on the site to research before submitting. I can tell!
- If I have just published a flash featuring a lonely girl in a bad relationship I may not want to publish another one for a while.
- If you don't do social media I won't reject on this basis but it may be a deal breaker if I'm not sure about your submission.
SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?
JS: No. I send a regulation email which is the same in all cases bar those submissions I consider to be exceptional but misplaced.
SQF: What magazines/zines do you read on a “regular” basis?
JS: Mslexia, The Lonely Crowd, Structo, PANK magazine, and The Incubator amongst others. Although I work part-time and I'm volunteer editor on this magazine so my reading time has been reduced.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
JS: I wish you had asked me what advice I would give to writers. I wish I had said be determined and never give up if you are getting the slightest hint of success. And most of all, I wish I could take my own advice!
Thank you, Jo. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.