Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Six Questions for Sandra Allen, Managing and Essays Editor, Wag's Revue

Founded in early 2009, Wag's Revue is a critically-acclaimed, online-only literary quarterly of essays, poetry, and fiction and interviews with the likes of George Saunders, Sam Lipsyte, Alison Bechdel, T.C. Boyle and Dave Eggers. Past contributors have included Brian Evenson, Stephen Elliott and Mary Ruefle. Those interested in submitting are encouraged to read our founding manifesto or to peruse our past twelve issues, which are available free at our archive. In addition to running two writing contests each year—which offer $1600 in prizes apiece—the publication pays each contributor $100. All submissions guidelines may be found at http://wagsrevue.com/submit.php.

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

  1. That it's appropriate to our publication. I mean this in terms of the really basic stuff—it is an essay, short story or poem/group of poems, is literary, doesn't exceed our length maximums. Just as importantly, though, a work should be stylistically and tonally appropriate to the magazine. Rather than attempting to summarize our style and tone here, I'd encourage anyone interested to go read our back issues—they're all available for free—and assess for themselves whether their stuff seems like a fit. 
  2. That it's a final draft, not a first one. Especially in the case of selecting a contest winner, we're not going to accept a piece on its potential alone. That'd be unfair to those writers who have taken the time with their own work to get it to its best possible place. We almost always work with writers on the pieces we've accepted, but this is when they've already come in at a high level of quality. Of course I'm including the basic things like proof reading in here, as well.
  3. That it's got something, something we could call uniqueness, vision, guts. That it's something we've never before published or perhaps never before read. We don't need you to be a big name to be published in our magazine; we do want to believe in your potential to become one.

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

SA: Is it a cop out to say not following the above? 

I'll add spelling our publication's name wrong. I mean, we concede it's a wonky spelling. But if you haven't noticed it's wonky, then we don't have a ton of faith in your attentiveness as a reader, and therefore writer. 

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

SA: If the piece showed potential and we'd like to see something else or a subsequent draft from a writer, definitely. We've published people on their second, third, fourth submissions. We also occasionally really like something but it's just not for us, and will let a writer know that.

SQF: Will you publish a submission an author posted on a personal blog?

SA: I just can't think of a case when something we'd publish would have been appropriate on a blog both in terms of genre—we publish literary works—and quality-level. I mean, if you had something literary and truly exceptional that we wanted and it happened to also be on your blog, we'd work with you on that. In general, though, we accept only previously-unpublished works.

SQF: What do you want authors to know about the stories you reject and how authors should respond? Along this same idea, do you mind if authors reply with polite questions about the comments they receive?

SA: If we've commented on a draft, sure, you'd be fine to ask a clarifying question. If you've submitted to us, were rejected, and, having read the magazine's archives some, still feel like your work is appropriate, I'd encourage you to just try, try again. We receive a lot of submissions for very little space. 

In general, if the question is a legitimate one—it's information we don't have on our website or a writer can't figure out him or herself—we're happy to receive and answer it. 

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

SA: Whether we take submissions in any way other than via our Submittable account at the link above, like via email or snail mail. We get that question with some frequency. The answer is we don't. Submittable enables us, and many, many small publishers, to keep good track of the many works we receive. 

Thanks a lot for this opportunity and I look forward to reading submissions from SQF readers.

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

NEXT POST: 10/12--Six Questions for Scott Bryson, Editor-in-Chief, The Broken City


  1. Interviews like this, no matter how many clones I read over and over, are useful reminders to writers like me.


  2. Thanks, blavamac. Glad you find these helpful.