Friday, February 19, 2016

Six Questions for Kaartikeya Bajpai, Editor-in-Chief, The Bombay Review

The Bombay Review, a bi-monthly literary magazine, publishes short fiction of 1000 to 2500 words and poetry of any length, with annual print anthologies, and has a readership base in more than 90 countries. Previously based only out of Pune, we are now primarily based out of New York. We receive submissions from around the world and have published writers from about a dozen countries. Apart from publishing, we conduct literary events across India, and abroad, and are currently on a 13 city winter 2015 literary tour. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Kaartikeya Bajpal: Writers are increasingly becoming more popular, with twenty to thirty literary festivals happening every year in India alone. The Jaipur Literary Festival is the biggest in the world. However, what I did notice was the lack of avenues for upcoming writers, especially in my country. Once you get published by a major publishing house, things become easier for you. But to reach that space, there is a lot of struggle involved.

Upcoming writers need to solidify a base of literary merit, to be taken seriously by these houses. Although there are cases of first time writers directly getting a three-book contract, more often than not, they have to work their way up the ladder.

This can be done by getting published in magazines and journals first. And I realized, after getting published in most of the literary magazines in the country – What next? I knew I still didn’t have enough merit to attempt a book then, and so tried to do my bit by starting The Bombay Review. One more magazine to get published in, is one more step up on the ladder.

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

Kaartikeya (Fiction): Honesty, a clean copy without any grammatical errors, and the writer’s love for the written word.

Garima (Poetry): The poems that have an underlying connecting thread, a structure or meter is preferred but not a necessary criteria, and lastly, it should be emotionally stimulating.

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

Kaartikeya: Not following the guidelines which are on the website. It is very disheartening to find a good piece, not edited correctly, and full of errors that could have easily been rectified had the writer given it another chance.

Garima: The submission should have room to connect with the audience. Since poetry can be very personal, this factor, of universality, is often lacking. These poems could be good, and many are, but from an Editor’s point of view, anything that won’t grab the reader, is turned down.

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

Kaartikeya: Due to the volume of the submissions we receive, it becomes hard to. But, often, when I find a piece where I really like the writing style, but have to reject on the content matter or theme, I send a personal message to the writer explaining why that piece wouldn’t work for us, but how I wanted to read more of the writer’s work and that he should submit again.

Garima: My work with TBR happens alongside college, work, and extra-curricular, and hence I only manage to send comments in the acceptance mails.

SQF: What magazines/e-zines do you read the most?

Kaartikeya: New Yorker, Indian Quaterly, Glimmer Train, Paris Review, Reading Hour.

Garima: Pyrta, New Yorker, Out of Print, Tin House

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

Kaartikeya: How do you sustain the magazine, monetary-wise?

Considering it is a voluntarily run magazine, with no financial structure other than my own money, everyone who helps us with this, and has been a part of it for no apparent gain but mere passion and trust in the magazine, is the life line of this magazine. There are illustrators, event co-ordinators, marketing members, cover designers, and all of them do this for me, for TBR because they want to. We get free venues (who believe in us, and do their bit) to conduct events across the country and abroad, the writers we approach to be speakers at these events do it to encourage a young initiative like ours, and so on.

However, as we are expanding, we realize how severely cash crunched we are. We are all students, with no incomes, and right now, I feel if we don’t get a sponsor who can help us out a little bit, we would not be able to last another year; at least till I start earning and can invest in the magazine. So here is a shout out – Hello there! Do donate, in whatever capacity you can! Support our magazine!

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

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