The Summerset Review is a quarterly online literary journal originally founded in 2002. They publish unsolicited fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. I really like the approach they took with their guidelines, which are brief, informative, and link to additional resources, such as Recommended Reading and Additional Advice.
I wondered how and why this lit mag came to be, so I asked editor Joseph Levens a few questions to find out. See my interview with Levens and a link to their submission guidelines below.
For more info on how to submit to literary magazine and journals, read my Submission Tips here.
HOPKINSON: Tell me a little bit about Summerset Review.
LEVENS: We are a quarterly journal devoted to publishing unsolicited fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. We have never gone on reading hiatus, we respond within three months to ninety-nine percent of our submissions, and we have never charged a reading fee. Work originally published in our magazine has been reprinted in the Pushcart Prize, the Best American series, PEN America’s debut authors anthology, and many other places. We are primarily an online publication and occasionally reprint in hardcopy issues. More about the history and mission of our journal can be found in the Masthead page of the web site.
How/why was Summerset Review originally started?
LEVENS: Having been affected by the tragedy of 9/11 in some form, I rounded two associates of mine who had been working as editors, and we jointly decided to put out a journal that would be free to read and enjoy by the literary community and the public at large, with the hope that by doing so we would contribute a little more to our world. The journal was launched September 11th, 2002, exactly one year later. In the inaugural issue’s Editors’ Notes, we say that the journal is being published without a revenue plan and that the first and only focus for us is on the art. We have remained true to this fifteen years later. We have never run an ad on the site or charged any type of access or reading fee. Our effort remains completely dedicated to reviewing incoming submissions and working hard to publish the best of it in presentable fashion. More information about how it all started is given in the Editors’ Note we released in our Fall 2011 issue.
HOPKINSON: What type of work are you looking for?
LEVENS: Quality literary material, more on the thoughtful and airy side of things than anything else. We think there is a bit too much doom and gloom out there, pieces heavily carrying a theme of death or serious illness, or simple outright misery. We still publish work with these elements – pieces that absolutely stunned us – but prefer a bit more of the lighter side of things, done well, with an engaging voice. We have recently posted some detailed submission advice for prose writers. You can get to it off our Guidelines page.
HOPKINSON: What do you wish you’d see submitted, but never comes in?
LEVENS: *Never* is such a binding word. We’ve been around a while and I am not sure if there is *any* type of submission that has *never* come in. About ninety percent of the prose we receive is fiction, so we could say we wish for more nonfiction. Of the fiction we receive, about eighty percent is written using first person narration. We greatly enjoy reading first person stories and many pieces written in third person frankly bore us to death in terms of narrative style, but we try to be diverse in what we publish, and we feel a bit guilty if an issue’s prose is notably skewed toward first person narratives. So, you could say that if we had to decide between two very good pieces, one being first person and one being third, we would pick the third to balance things out.
HOPKINSON: What are some of your favorite lit mags/journals?
LEVENS: Gettysburg Review never fails to wow me. Third Coast, Meridian, Redivider, and a few others also regularly enthrall me. If we include those that have ceased publication, my favorite is Other Voices. There are a great many journals that periodically impress, and a great number of particular issues of well-known and reputable journals that, sadly, disappoint. There is a Recommended Reading page off our Guidelines page that lists many of our favorite pieces read over the years, and we include the journals they
HOPKINSON: Where can folks send submissions?
LEVENS: editor (at) summersetreview.org
HOPKINSON: If someone has a question, how can they contact you?
LEVENS: You can use the above email address. If it is not a question but a
comment, we would welcome that too.
DEADLINE: Always open
SUBMISSION FEE: None
FORMS: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry