Friday, September 23, 2022

Six Questions for Scott Bolohan, Editor-in-Chief, The Twin Bill

The Twin Bill publishes fiction (1,000 to 3,000 words), creative nonfiction, poetry, and art. “The Twin Bill is a quarterly online literary baseball journal founded in 2020 at the start of the pandemic. We celebrate the rich history of the game while also recognizing its vibrant present.” Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Scott Bolohan: At the beginning of the pandemic, my girlfriend and I both got Covid. I spent those days watching Ken Burns' Baseball and found it gave me comfort. I wanted to write about it, but I didn't see many places where I could. So I started The Twin Bill and quickly realized I couldn't handle it all myself, so I reached out to the best fiction, poetry, and essay writers I knew and they agreed to become editors. I worked as a sportswriter for years, currently coach high school baseball, and work for MLB teams, so I knew there are people who have baseball stories to share. I truly believe everyone, no matter how big of a fan they are, has a baseball story.

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


  1. It might seem obvious, but baseball needs to be in the submission. You'd be surprised by how often the submissions aren't.

  2. That said, the more originality in the use of baseball, the better. Play-by-play of games are fine—and they can be very good—but they don't really surprise us and I think they can sometimes lose the human element behind the game. We love more experimental pieces. Pieces that are about baseball, but also about something else are ones we gravitate toward.

  3. We love pieces from and about different perspectives. One of the things we've tried to be very conscious about is the perception of baseball is it's a very old white man sport. Yet, three of our four most-read pieces have been by women. We've also published a number of fiction pieces about female baseball players. We're constantly trying to seek these voices and stories out. We love getting pieces from people who have never written about baseball before. Baseball is always called America's pastime, but we also want submissions that reflect the present.

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

SB: Definitely well-trodden topics. We've received so many submissions about going to a game with your dad, playing catch, and old teams and players. That's not to trivialize those experiences. They're really important to people. But after a couple of years of publishing, it just doesn't seem fresh. That's not to say we wouldn't publish a piece about going to your first game, but something about it has to tell a story and be unique in some way.

As mentioned before, we also want to show that baseball is for everyone, so anything that belittles people is an easy rejection.

And finally with fiction, the word count is really important. Our fiction editor had somewhere around 150,000 words to read last issue. We have a little leeway on 3,000 words, but when it starts getting more than that, it's a hard no out of the amount of his free time Bryan already spends editing. While we pay our contributors, none of the editors are paid yet, so this is all done out of love for baseball and writing on top of everything else we do. 

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

SB: I hate to say that we can usually tell if we want a piece or not from the beginning of the submission, but we probably can. So much of it has to do with the style. Oddly a lot of times when people write about baseball, they suddenly write like journalists with press hats from the 1920s. With CNF, we see a lot of writers explaining baseball or a big moment that honestly all of our readers know already. CNF in particular seems to be a nostalgia trap. With poetry and fiction, it's mostly about style. We're also suckers for a bit of humor. Baseball is fun, after all. 

SQF: Is there a type/genre work you’d like to see more of in your submissions?

SB: I can remember early on we got a comic submission from Andy Lattimer and we weren't quite sure what to do with it. But then I realized, I'm running the magazine, and if we want to run something, there's no rules that we can't. We were thrilled to publish our first play earlier this year. So just because something may not fit into our call, we'd still love to see it and try to find a home for it. I'm always impressed with what our contributors can come up with.

I guess it's not really a genre, but more of a subject. We're always hoping to get more submissions about baseball today, whether it's current players or what it's like playing or being a fan now. Someone should write about players like Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Fernando Tatis, Jr., and Julio Rodriguez—the incredible players of today. 

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

SB: So why should we submit to you?

We're all writers ourselves, and we've tried to make The Twin Bill a place we would want to be published. We're really proud to have original art for each piece. We spend a lot of time trying to make each piece look as good as possible. We want the writer to be able to show it to people and be proud. We submit our contributors for awards and do everything we can to promote them and hope they'll appreciate the care we give to their writing. Plus, baseball and writing are great.

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

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