Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.
A: Depth, talent, skill
Q: What other current publications (or publishers) do you admire most?
A: At Anomaly we read other literary journals religiously. If we had to break down our favourites the list would be enormous but would have to mention The Adroit Journal, The Stinging Fly, Crannóg, POETRY, Southword (which I'm a huge fan of because I grew up reading it), Rattle, St. Ann's Review, Mud Season Review, [PANK], The Los Angeles Review, Apogee- I mean, where does it end? Really? And other journals like Stirring, Blue Lyra Review, Noble/Gas Quarterly, The Flexible Persona, TCR, Booth- I could literally just list things. All day. It would get ridiculous. You can pretty much list any and all. There are lots up and coming magazines that will be interesting to watch. Whilst all quite different, we like to keep a wide view on the current poetry scene but a read through of any one of these, for us, is never a disappointment and if there's a subscription it's always worth it for the money!
Q: If you publish writing, who are your favorite writers? If you publish art, who are your favorite artists?
A: We all have very different tastes but for me, Lorcán, I come back to the same poets in particular again and again. I'm a big fan of Vona Groarke, her voice is so beautifully rendered and evocative, the poems wonderfully executed. Jack Underwood too is interesting and other poets such as Blas Falconer, Derek Mahon, I really enjoy Sarah Howe, Wendy Chen and Kate Tempest is really doing some quite enthralling stuff I feel- bit of a thing for Patrick Kindig, Alessandro Jacop Brusa and Arlene Ang was an early love. There are too may others to mention.
Well... also the classic loves like Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Yehuda Amichai, Anna Akhmatova- I mean, you can see where my tastes lie? I have a huge thing for Amichai and Akhmatova. The list could go on and on- but that's like scraping the top of the barrel. There are too many and with fiction there is too much. I feel like it's almost asking someone "What are your favourite movies- and you'll never see any others?" You can't pick them. Different writers do things that I love at different times, in different ways and I don't always love everything a writer I admire does. It just doesn't happen. In my opinion even your heroes have off days. Unless you've drunk the cool aid. In which case, that's short lived.
Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?
A: We try very hard to curate a space in which the ability in the work is immediately impactful. We don't do themes, though often themes emerge by accident, but if we had to describe ourselves it would be to compare ourselves to a market bazaar- each piece is a stall selling something a little different and the elements which bind them together are skill, talent, intelligence, a willingness for some intensity and a kind of muscularity in the work that shows its power and the skill of the artist handling it.
The artwork- be it paintings or photography- is absolutely integral to the feel and mood of each issue itself. Without artwork or photography there wouldn't be an issue, it's as simple as that. We could just release an issue with just the written word but it wouldn't feel right to us. We spend a lot of time going through artwork or even approaching artists or photographers about their work because it means so much to us. We want to create the feeling in writers and artists that we are approachable. You can talk to us, before or after a submission. We don't want writers or artists to feel like they've submitted their work and now they have to wait in silence and leave us to do our thing, out there, somewhere veiled in the ether, mysterious and unreachable. We're always open to being approached about anything and we hope that comes across. We said on a podcast, I think for Issue 1, that we don't want to be perceived as the wizards behind the curtain. We're human, we're available, you can approach us when you need to! Oh, and we have a podcast. We barely know what we're doing with that. We're learning!
Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?
A: Every journal or magazine will say this but... please read previous issues. We're free! You literally have no excuse. Especially where poetry and artwork/photography are concerned. We will not publish work that is not trying and trying hard. It's obvious when a writer isn't interested in growing or improving their work because it lacks depth- we do not want shallow work or work that is not trying. Read what we've published so far, they are your best examples of what we enjoy. Also, don't submit again immediately if you get a rejection- we may well want to see more of your work but wait at least three months before submitting again.
Q: Describe the ideal submission and cover letter.
A: We'd prefer a short cover letter, brief biography listing any publications (if you have any, it's not a requirement!), normal font such as Times New Roman and an attachment in .doc, .docx, .rtf but NOT .pdf- I know people like it, we don't. Or simply put it in the body of the email. That's always easy. We don't need a life history- as Roseanna would put it, "If you wouldn't tell your gynecologist, don't tell me."
To the point, professional and hopefully work with a wallop of an impact- but that WOULD be ideal, wouldn't it?
Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?
A: It's rare but sometimes it's clear they haven't properly read the Submission Guidelines. Often we'll update the page to say we don't want anymore fiction, or an issue has closed and all submissions are considered for the next issue etc., and it doesn't get read and then we have ten or twenty (well, now it's more like 50-100) more submissions in a category we're not reading anymore because the current issue is full up. I wish we had Submittable but we just can't afford it.
We have to respond to those submissions and that takes up so much time that didn't need to be taken if they'd just read the submissions page more carefully. We'll still hold them over for consideration in the next issue, but it's just one of those small things that can be frustrating. We look at every single submission individually- more than once. I'd imagine this is the same for a lot of journals out there, not just us, so a little more attention paid to any notices we put in bold font on the Guidelines page is always appreciated! :) (See what I did there? Eh? Eh? *winky face*).
Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?
A: This is so NOT the Duotrope answer but let's be honest: we don't care. Make the work count. We LOVE professional cover letters but when it comes to education- and this is perhaps more a European thing- we don't care that you have a degree or an MA or a PHD. If the work can't stand on it's own legs, who cares what your CV says? So you have an MA. So does everyone else. But can you write? A bio is asking for previous publications and maybe something about yourself- we don't care about your education, we care about how you write and an MA in creative writing doesn't mean you can write- it means you qualified in it. But then we're European/Irish and we see things very plainly. There are plenty of idiots out there with PHDs. Give us the born writers. They're two different things. You can, or you can't. Show us the goods. You can have degrees up the wazoo but what do we care? We want breathtaking writing. You can't teach that. We couldn't give a shit about the theory, we want to see the performance.
Q: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?
A: We all have varying degrees of OCD, so I've put an entire system in place- various labels and folders, all colour co-ordinated. It's probably actually quite startling to look at but very effective! We will read everything more than once, usually about three times at various different stages just to be sure. So everything is read, in its entirety, usually more than twice. It sounds exhausting but there are just enough of us to do it and we like to be extremely thorough, so even the pieces we reject have been read by all of us several times. We don't skim anything. I certainly don't, I'm awful- I'll read everything several times over. I'm constantly re-reading submissions from other issues just to be certain. I'm sure there's probably a psychoanalyst out there who'd have a field day with me.
Q: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?
A: The same as any other journal I'd imagine. Talent is an obvious one- it's either there or it isn't and we like to look at the pieces almost in the way a tutor would, technical skill if applicable, language (flow, use of language), rhythm, etc. Occasionally we will check previous publications, if it hasn't been previously published and we're considering it, we'll double-check this is accurate as far as is possible but obviously we can't do this for everything, it would be far too time consuming.
Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?
A: Coffee and an inbox full of submissions. I'll check we've sent out confirmation of receipt, then one by one go through each submission, colour code it to be read by the others in the team and once everyone's had a read or two of the submission, we'll come to a decision on it.
If we have time and someone has asked for it, we'll offer some feedback where we can. I do this because I have the most time. Sometimes it's not possible due to real life circumstances (we each make our living in very varied careers, so our hours on Anomaly are often occurring at different times) but if we see that we can offer some welcome advice, which is more than welcome to be disregarded (but if you ask for it, don't get mad when you get it!) we will. Should time permit. All email responses are personally written because, frankly, we don't have the money to afford a service like Submittable (though it would make our lives so much easier if we could) so we pretty much have to Stone Age it and manually type responses. To be honest, we don't mind that so much. It's time consuming but there is nothing worse than a robotic, sterile response from an editor when you've sent your work out. We try and give as personal a touch as we can with responses but with a full inbox of emails to respond to, it does get exhausting.
It's by far the most time consuming part but we still enjoy it. Rejection letters are awful though, we hate sending them and for me at least, it never gets easier. It's always terrible. I constantly feel like apologising to people! I think a lot of editors don't really mention that part all too much- you do just have to get on with it and do it, if it's bad writing it's just bad writing and you can't lose time over it. It's just not a pleasant thing to do though, even still. A month or so before deadline time, I will start putting together the layout. Choosing artwork for the cover, selecting placements for each piece. We used to list pieces alphabetically by author name for ease but as of Issue 3 we're decided it's just more effective and more interesting to place them by instinct. Aside from submissions themselves, which obviously over six months between issues takes a lot of man hours, this process is the most intense. I pretty much leave decisions over the artwork/photography to Joseph. I will place the artwork in the layout where I feel they are suitable but he's always in control of the final edit on that, he always does such a flawless job that I trust his instincts on it. He has a great eye for colour and detail and his choices are always quite effective. The actual design of the journal is down to him, he created the look of it which is very eye-catching I think. This takes a while both for myself and then for Joseph- and God help him if he does something and I ask him to change it. And then change it again. Which has happened but he's always wonderfully patient with me. After that, there is always Twitter, social media, surreptitiously leaving business cards at poetry readings and in cafés around London and pretty much any other free way we can manage to promote the journal. If anyone has any more ideas on that, they are welcome to tell us! Pretty much a typical day is all of the above. It does take a lot of free time but it's immensely satisfying- never more so than when the writers compliment us for our efforts. After all, our whole thing is that it's for writers, by writers.
Q: How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?
A: It's essential, utterly. As I said to Troy Cabida in an interview, with our generation it has become integral to embrace the use of the internet, social media- you name it. For us it would be impossible to function without doing it, besides the obvious fact that we are a digital-based journal but we wouldn't have survived without utilising the power of social media. Journals or magazines that don't are either so well established they have surpassed the need to do so, or they have disappeared. I don't, personally, see how we have a choice. The world today interacts so seamlessly with the digital world, you have integrate both. I'm not saying print is dying- in fact, had we the resources we would be a print journal and maybe limit the digital content but that requires a lot of finance and then we would need to make that up in sales of the magazine (without charging a submission fee, which frankly we just do not agree with- you shouldn't have to pay for someone to read your work and make a decision) but right now, for tax purposes that's just not worth it. What we'd earn in revenue would go out again in tax at the end of the year, it wouldn't be enough to put much back into the production of the journal. Which is fine, we're happy being digital and at least this way it's free. If we had the backing, we'd consider it but it's not likely and even if that were the case, social media and the internet still have an enormous role there. I don't think it makes any difference these days whether or not it's print or digital based, you must have a digital presence. Definitely, it's become essential, so we're all for it.
Q: How much do you edit an accepted piece prior to publication?
A: Well, we're editors so it does happen but right now, only because we can take the time. We don't usually ever want to edit anything, unless it's spelling mistakes or grammatical errors- but that's part of the job as long as it's not laziness on the writer's part. We might suggest to the author they maybe try to expand on an idea or something but they can always tell us to fuck off (I'm Irish- I've no qualms on language) and we've done that- that's what we're here for. We'd prefer it came in perfect but I've had plenty of editors say to me, "Look, we like it but do you really think this and this and this works? Can you work on it?" And I have never said no because they know what they're doing and the few times that happened, they were right. I just didn't see it until they said it and I was glad they did.
We wlll do it if something comes so close we don't want to let it go but we feel it needs tweaking. Otherwise we don't change anything unless it's for formatting purposes (to fit on the digital page). Because we're digital, we don't need to worry so much about page volume, we just can pack it in and not worry that there isn't room to fit it all. We don't have a set page limit because we don't have to have one. Each issue is just the best of what we've received by deadline time- and we hope our readers agree!