Friday, October 15, 2021

Six Questions for Gabby, Editor, Orangepeel Literary and Visual Arts Magazine

orangepeel publishes fiction and creative non-fiction to 2,500 words, poetry, recipes, comics, and visual arts. “We will consider work in various languages. In the case of written work, we ask that an English translation is provided.” Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Gabby: The final project for my college publishing course was to create an online literary magazine and publish an issue. I've worked on literary magazines since I was in high school, so I was very excited to build orangepeel from the ground up and choose a direction for it that's personally meaningful. We were only supposed to have 15 pages of content for the assignment, but op's first issue ended up with around 50!

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


1. Memorability. orangepeel's big thing is introducing memorable pieces, so we take our time when making decisions on submissions. If an editor thinks a lot about a piece before we give the final word, that definitely helps it toward a "yes." It's really hard to define what makes something memorable. For me, the first thing that comes to mind is the sensory experience of a piece and if I feel immersed in it while reading. That's kind of related to the next thing, which is...

2. Purpose. I like to gain something from a piece. It doesn't have to be a grand life lesson or anything; it could be something as simple as an emotion. But my favorite pieces, the ones that I'm thinking of as I write this, zap me away to a very specific moment, place, and feeling. You can tell when someone cares about what their piece is granting to others.

3. Literary skill. I'm comfortable as an editor, so I can deal with fixing a piece's grammar and spelling issues. If a writer has a way with words, describes things uniquely, and has noticeably put effort and consideration into a piece, it would be hard not to accept that! I personally like writers who think literarily and want to present a specific sentiment in a uniquely beautiful or provocative way.

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

Gabby: It's always easier to articulate what you don't like than what you do, so I have a few pet peeves to share. My biggest one is when a piece beats you over the head with a message. I really respect subtlety and pieces that make you think rather than ones that basically go, "The moral is: ..." or something. I have faith in orangepeel's readers to figure a piece's meaning out for themselves. On the other hand, I've also gotten pieces that are very self-serving and don't seem to be written for any audience. If it's all events with no introspection or deeper commentary, there's not much the editorial staff can do with that. Another pet peeve is cliches. Sometimes I like pieces that deconstruct things like that, but most often I read ones that use something really uncreative as their mic drop moment, so to speak, which gets an instant rejection from me. When I can tell that someone is writing more to fulfill an expectation of what a story or poem is and less so because they have something unique to express, I am always going to pass on that work. My last one would be that I can't deal with unrealistic dialogue!

SQF: What do you look for in the opening paragraph(s)/stanza(s) of a submission?

Gabby: In my experience editing and assessing written work, I've found that people put effort into creating a hooky beginning yet don't carry that same energy into the rest of the piece. I like consistency, so I often compare the first and last lines and make sure they seem like they belong to the same work. While looking through accepted pieces from orangepeel's last issue, I've noticed that a lot of them begin by establishing the setting or occasion of the piece, so maybe that's something I subconsciously gravitate toward!

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

Gabby: It's hard to get me to accept a piece about a breakup or falling out with someone. I'm sorry but most of those that I've read, while they may have said a lot about the writer's emotions and personal experience, have come off as not being self-aware in the slightest. It would also be near impossible for me to consider a work in which someone is forcing archaic language for aesthetic reasons. While that's not inherently bad, it's not what orangepeel is about. Finally, orangepeel isn't really interested in humor, sarcasm, or parody. I have been on the fence about accepting a couple of very funny pieces, but ultimately decided that they didn't fit the overall goal of my publication.

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

Gabby: A question that I have asked on every editorial staff I've been on is, "How should I weigh grammar and spelling errors in an otherwise strong piece?" I've gotten different answers every time! Like I mentioned earlier, my philosophy for orangepeel is that if there's a great sentiment in there, I'll put in the work to clean a piece up. It's my job as an editor, after all. I feel passionately about this because I don't want anyone to be discouraged from submitting their work to orangepeel if they are less confident about writing in English.

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


  1. Neither this interview or the submission guidelines speak to the kind of art or comics that the publication is seeking. Humor? Fantasy? Bucolic outdoor scenes? City life? People in a narrative? Abstract, cosmic, celestial designs?

    1. Hello! Gabby from orangepeel here. We don't have those qualifications listed because they don't exist! We like to keep an open mind, so we don't ask for any specific genre. All we can recommend is that you look at our past issues to get a feel for what we are typically interested in. We also theme each issue, and the theme will be listed on the submission guidelines when submissions are open.

  2. The best advice I’ve received in this case is to read a few issues to get a feel for what has been previously published.