We had a blast responding to your questions on Tuesday night! Thanks to everyone who sent questions our way. If you missed our Twitter chat or if you just want to pretend you're hanging out with us some more, here's a recap of our questions and answers:
What's the biggest lesson you've learned from editing Split Lip in 2017?
Kaitlyn Andrews-Rice, Editor-in-Chief:1. Plot matters. 2. Titles matter. Bonus #3: For memoir you've got to have a story somewhat bigger than yourself. As Ray Shea said to me once: Wild without the grief/drugs wouldn't be the same Wild.
Maureen Langloss, Flash Fiction Editor:Work more on my endings!! So many fabulous stories in our submissions queue fall apart at the end. I’m guilty of the same but now I see how an ending that fails to resonate impacts one’s chances of being published.
Ray Shea: The first sentence/paragraph/page has to be great. If it’s not, a great ending rarely makes up for it.
Y'all are great editors, and sometimes when you have pay-for-feedback sub options, I just want to submit a story for feedback but not for publication. Would that be: a) kinda weird, just don't b) sweet! c) if you're sending it to us, we reserve the right accept it, duh!
Kaitlyn: You are great! b. SWEET (Just put a note in your cover letter!)
I saw that you were offering critiques/feedback on pieces. Is this general feedback or edits? Asking for a friend. A friend who needs an editor. Bad.
Kaitlyn: Depends on the genre/editor, but it's a combo of general feedback (usually about 300 words of feedback), plus line notes on the doc. Hope this helps your friend! ;)
What kind of work goes into promoting our contributors?
Amy Rossi, Managing Editor: A weekish before the issue, I email Fightin' Words and interview questions. These get posted throughout the month. Becky keeps a google doc of former contributors' work, and we do a roundup of that monthly, linking to the Split Lip work and the new work.
Becky Robison, Social Media and Marketing Coordinator: I keep track of our contributors as much as I can on Tweetdeck, but if you want us to promote something specific, please submit to the "Notes from the FAM" section of our Submittable!
Maureen: For all our flash writers, I tweet the stories multiple times over a long period of time. I also pay attention to author twitter feeds so that I can promote their stories in other pubs. I want to help writers succeed, not just their individual flashes.
How does your submission queue compare to Duotrope's stats? Pretty accurate?
Kaitlyn: The best question! So our acceptance rate from Dec'16 through Dec'17 is around 3%. We currently have over 500 pending subs. Duotrope says our acceptance rate is 5.96% and we have 33 pending responses.
Burning question: who came up with the sweet new logo treatment?
Kaitlyn: Our amazing art director Denise Weber!
For reference, how far ahead have we booked our publications?
Kaitlyn: Through summer 2018 on the web! We want to give our writers as much attention as possible. We try to publish within a year (give or take) of acceptance.
Maureen: If you’re into memoir, my favorite is Amy Leach. I hear Heart Berries is going to be amazing. And Stephanie Burt herself also has a new book of poems out, as well as amazing essay collection called The Poem Is You.
Kaitlyn: I'm almost finished with Sing, Unburied, Sing and it's incredible. I'm also almost finished with the 2017 O'Henry Prize Stories. Highly recommend.
Ray: This isn’t new but I was introduced to The Guardians by Sarah Manguso last summer and I’ve read it three times already.
Official Split Lip Magazine Twitter: May we suggest you take a look at the selection over at Split Lip Press?
What's success mean in terms of editing? In individual works and career?
Kaitlyn: I think there are probably two ways to answer. As an editor, success is helping the writer strengthen their story/memoir/poem while maintaining their original voice and vision. As a writer, success for me is feeling like there's nothing left to change. Usually this comes after several revisions (15+), putting the story away for several months, coming back to it, putting it away again, so and so forth until I hit submit.
Amy: As a writer, I'd define it as putting in the work to get the story/poem/essay/novel to where it needs to be on its own terms.
Are there any trends you’ve noticed a lot of during the last round of submissions? If so, were they enjoyable or not so much?
Kaitlyn:Overtly political stories are hard to pull off right now, though political poetry seems to work. We see a lot of dead baby stories (sorry....don't stop writing one, just know there are a lot out there). Stories about writing professors.
Maureen: I’m seeing a lot of folks playing with structure/form, which I LOVE. Though a cautionary note: a cool, new structure will not hide bad writing/characterization/etc. The writing is still the focal point. Also there are too many dead children in our queue. That’s a trend I’m tired of, even though I have been known to write one! If you must kill a child, the story must kill too.
Ray: [Political stories] seem to come in waves in memoir. Like no “coming out” stories for a while and then we’ll get five in one month.
For memoir, I haven’t compiled stats lately but I feel like women outnumber men in the submission queue. Which is cool.
What are your favorite/least favorite trends you've seen in flash (or other genres) this year?
Maureen: I also see a lot of dating stories. Many of them are fabulous. But some don’t take the topic anywhere new. Be fresh & innovative if you’re writing young love. Cat Person was unique telling of an old story. To summarize: 1) playing with form = fabulous 2) dead children = a bit tired.
What have been the biggest challenges of putting together the print edition of the mag so far?
Kaitlyn: Logistics of finding a printer/organizing our editorial process when our team's all over the country! We use a digital workspace (Slack FTW) to keep us on task!
This one goes out to all our editors: as you know, we don't read blind at Split Lip. Any thoughts on that?
Kaitlyn: Reading blind makes it easier to give in to your own tastes/biases. A cover letter gives us insight into the writer and their background. We try to discover voices who are newer to the lit world. We rarely solicit. [Unconscious bias] is a valid concern, but more than one person usually reads a submission, especially when there's a maybe vote. On the flip side, if we know the name of the submitter well, we'll have someone read it blind. Not sure there's a perfect process...but certainly worth the effort.
Ray: I feel like finding diverse voices is easier if I don’t read blind. Although with memoir it matters a little less because the story itself has clues about gender/sexuality/ethnicity etc. I definitely disagree with editors who say “we read blind, diversity problem solved!”
Maureen: We get many stories that touch on race & gender & sexual orientation. It is helpful to know what perspective the writer is bringing to the topic. If I’m looking at a rape story, I want to know: did a woman write it?
What other mags/zines inspire y’all individually or as a publication?
Kaitlyn: I love all lit mags (seriously), but right now I'm crushing on Booth, Copper Nickel, Indiana Review, A Public Space, Kenyon Review, Yemassee Journal, Black Warrior Review, New Delta Review, SmokeLong, and so many more. Also Little Fiction has a gorgeous website (and the content to boot). Wigleaf knows what's up with flash. Adroit Journal has some of the web's best poetry and more. I could go on and on!
Amy: To name a few more: always inspired by WhiskeyPaper, Third Point Press, Barrelhouse, and Paper Darts.
Maureen: So many!!! Jellyfish Review, SmokeLong, Wigleaf, Cease Cows, Bird's Thumb, GIGANTIC Sequins, Masters Review, monkeybicycle, New Delta Review, Crab Creek Review, Barrelhouse, Little Fiction... I could go on & on...
Becky: SO MANY. But I consistently love Paper Darts and CHEAP POP.
As we wind down the evening, what are your favorite Split Lip memories from 2017?
Amy: Joining the team, of course! Getting to know our writers. And seeing a story that I was assigned as a reader make it to publication for the first time! ("Last Supper" in this month's issue!)
Maureen: 1. Accepting a first pub from a math major still in college
2. Editing each & every story. Working with authors is SO FUN
3. Talking all things writing with the amazing Split Lip team. What a support system!
4. When our new logo was born!
Ray: Watching the process as the new logo was designed. I am art challenged but I know what I like, it was fun seeing behind the scenes.
Kaitlyn: Working with our amazing team to create our very first print issue! I believe in the magic of print + watching everyone come together to make this thing happen has been the most rewarding experience of my writing life.
And if you ever have any questions about submitting to or publishing with us, just ask!