The UK has a fantastic small press scene. To celebrate the people behind the imprints, and help out the writers that are looking to them for publication, we've asked& a number of editors to share what they're working on - and what they're looking for. This week, our guest is Martin Appleby from the literary zine PAPER AND INK.
Could you tell us a bit about who you are and what you're doing?
My name is Martin and I edit, design and distribute PAPER AND INK, which is a submission based literary zine. I also publish various other zine-based literary treats, such as poetry collections and novels.
What are the stories or the novels that you want to publish?
My personal preference is to look for stories that have a basis in reality. A grounding in day to day life. I tend to lean more towards working class stories, as that is my background, but I like anything that has bite. I like stories that will kick you in the teeth and then buy you a beer afterwards. Snappy, concise prose doesn't go amiss either.
What have you recently published, and what's coming soon?
Aside from the regular issues of PAPER AND INK, last year I published a serialised novel (over three parts), that was kind of an experiment to see if the format would work and it turned out to be pretty successful. I am not actively seeking more novels to publish but if the opportunity arose I would consider it. I also published two poetry collections last year and will be publishing another two this year.
Personally I fucking hate cover letters, I prefer people to just send me their work. Just attached it to an email, you don't even need to say anything. One of my pet peeves is writers that send a list of previous publications with their submission as if the amount of publications or the mags or presses that have published them is an automatic stamp of quality on their work. Same goes for sob stories. That doesn't happen as often but you sometimes get the old "it has always been my dream to be published" shtick. Like, yeah, you and everyone else buddy. Haha. I probably sound like a real prick right now, but I'm not really: I just don't like perfunctory nonsense. The only thing influencing a decision to publish or not to publish should be the quality of the words, so show me the words.
Is there anything about a story or its presentation that will immediately knock it out of consideration? An 'auto-fail'?
Not really. I am pretty open minded. In fact I welcome the weird, the wacky and the unconventional. Even typos and spelling/grammatical errors don't turn me off too much. If somebody has taken the time to lay those words down and then send them out to a perfect stranger, then I respect the hell out of that and I will always give them a fair crack. Like I said in my previous answer though, just don't give me your fucking life story along with it.
The nasty part of editing... what advice do you have for writers if they're turned down?
It is kind of the obvious answer but just keep on plugging away. Just because your work is not right for one mag or press, doesn't mean it isn't right for another. Don't get angry and defensive about a rejection and similarly don't flake out and give up. It is never personal. I hate to be one of those wankers that uses sporting analogies but I am a boxing fan so... Chin down, gloves up, keep throwing that jab!
Any other tips for those sending you work?
Don't harass publishers if you don't get an immediate response. Don't be that guy. Never be that guy.
Are you looking for new stories right now?
Absolutely. Submissions for out tenth issue are open until 5th Feb, so please get involved! My rejection emails are dope.
We re-open for submissions every few months so keep an eye on paperandinkzine.co.uk/submissions.