Friday, June 8, 2018

Six Questions for Beth Burrell and Rudri Bhatt Patel, Co-Founders/ Editors, The Sunlight Press

The Sunlight Press publishes personal essays of 650-1,000 words, flash fiction under 1,000 words, fiction under 2,000 words, poetry, reviews, Artists on Craft reflections, and photography. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this journal?

The Sunlight Press: We are both writers and met online working for another journal. We loved the idea of collaborating on our own site and offering a place for new and established voices. It’s been a blast creating a new venue for writers and artists, and getting to know them and their work. We also wanted to create a space where writers aren’t left wondering about the status of their submission. Valuing a writer’s work means acknowledging receipt and also responding with an acceptance/rejection within 4 weeks of a submission. At The Sunlight Press, work doesn’t slip into a black hole.

We also were drawn to the concept of light and dark -- and our hope that at the darkest times we turn toward light. How we all inhabit and navigate those spaces intrigues us. We like to hear about how epiphanies arrive in unexpected places.

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

TSP: We look for lyrical writing and a compelling narrative in all our work. Surprise endings are acceptable if they are earned. We also look for voice and authenticity, and the question that should drive a piece - Why should the reader care about this essay, story, book review, or poem?

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

TSP: Poor writing, lack of proofreading, and not adhering to our submission guidelines, all influence how we view a piece. Work well beyond our word limits (please see our guidelines) and not enough effort to elevate the personal to a universal experience.

Since we cull submissions via email (we don’t use Submittable), it is important that writers pay attention to the guidelines. Also, please read the type of pieces we publish before submitting work. We avoid work that is too message-driven, that veers toward the preachy. Typically, we do not accept openly religious or political work. Our goal is to offer readers an outlet on the internet with provocative and quality writing apart from the rapid-fire 24-hour news cycle.

SQF: What magazines/zines do you read on a “regular” basis?

Full Grown People
Flash Fiction Online
Literary Hub
The New Yorker
Creative Nonfiction
NYT Magazine
NYT Book Review
Grown and Flown

SQF: Many editors list erotica, or sex for sex sake, as hard sells. What are hard sells for your publication?

TSP: As stated above, work that is driven by politics or specific religious beliefs. Views on particular current events or popular ideas also have plenty of outlets on the internet.

That being said, we understand and appreciate the spiritual in people’s lives, and indeed on the About page of our website include: “We want to hear the ways people turn toward light and hope, whether it is through the arts, culture, spirituality, or humor...” This doesn’t mean the writer turns a piece into a soapbox about a particular view, but rather engages the reader with craft and an authentic voice.

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

TSP: Why did you choose to become a nonprofit journal?

We believe strongly in enriching the literary community and mean this quite literally. We believe writers should be paid for their work. From the outset we envisioned a personal financial investment in our journal and a commitment to achieve nonprofit status. Being a nonprofit means we can offer donors a tax deduction for their contributions and we may seek grant funding. While becoming a nonprofit has meant additional administrative work, we are thrilled at the potential of raising funds, continuing to pay writers and artists for their work, and if lucky, setting up scholarships for college-bound teens pursuing careers in the arts.


The Sunlight Press editors are accepting submissions for this themed issue through July 31, 2018. Send essays, fiction and poetry. Word counts are included on the guidelines page. One winning recipient will receive $75.00 in addition to the regular acceptance fee ($25.00). Learn more here.

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


  1. I really like the sound of your magazine. I like the sensitivity I feel comes from the interview with Beth and Rudri (hope I got the name right)
    Hope my short story (1,200 words) fits your readers.
    Christian McCulloch

  2. Your interview helped me understand the what, why and how of submitting my writing to your magazine. Don't see posts like this at very many journals. Thanks!

  3. You pay writers, upon publication, by way of Pay Pal. Problem is, I don't have a pay pal account, that I can access. Is there an alternative method?