Six Questions for Michelle Augello-Page, Editor, Siren
Siren is a cross-genre biannual publication that accepts edgy and experimental poetry, prose, visual art, music, audio/visual and graphic media. Read the complete guidelines here.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
MAP: We are looking for the work of unique artists who share a conceptual interest in what is new, edgy, and experimental in their chosen mediums. We want submissions by artists who are trying new things and approaching their creative pursuits in interesting and innovative ways.
SQF: What are the top three reasons a submission is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to the above question and why?
MAP: The hands-down worst part about editing Siren is rejecting submissions. However, it is an inevitable part of the process; we can only publish a fraction of the submissions we receive. Some submissions are well written, but do not fit the philosophical concept of what the zine is about. Some submissions fit the concept, but the work may need to be developed more. One of the reasons we send out form letters to reject and accept work is because it is never personal. The work stands by itself, and then it stands by the work of others, viewed in the contextual lens of what we’re looking for, and informed by what we’ve received.
SQF: Which of the following statements is true and why? Plot is more important than character. Character is more important than plot. Plot and character are equally important.
MAP: Ha, that seems a loaded question! Some people stand by the Aristotelian model that plot is central to a story, therefore more important. Others, especially those familiar with Lajos Egri, feel that well developed characters drive the story, making them the essential ingredient in moving the plot forward to a necessary and inevitable conclusion. I feel that it depends on the story; different stories need to be told in different ways.
SQF: What advice can you offer new authors hoping to publish their first submission?
MAP: Don’t give up! When any author, new or otherwise, is trying to publish his or her work, it is never personal; it is always a question of fit. There is a lot of rejection, but never think of it as a rejection of you or the quality of your work. It just means that you didn’t find the place your work will fit yet. Keep writing, refining, and developing your talents. Never forget that publishing is in many ways secondary to the life-long creative process of being a writer.
SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?
MAP: My experience as an editor has taught me that rejection sucks, no matter which side of the proverbial coin you are on! I’ve also learned that writers should always familiarize themselves with the journals they are sending their work to, and always follow submission guidelines. It may feel like you are sending your work into a void, but there are people on the other side who have the utmost respect for the creative process and are grateful to have the opportunity to view your work. As an editor, it is not only a labor of love; it is an honor and a responsibility to share and support the work of others. There are so many different voices, visions, and paths of expression and communication. It’s a beautiful thing to see people putting their heart and soul into their art, and creating and sharing such diverse work.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I’d asked that I didn’t? And how would you answer it?
MAP: Siren is not a typical literary zine because we are open to submissions from artists of all genres, including writers, audio/visual and graphic artists, photographers, film makers, musicians, comedians, performance and conceptual artists, etc. We are open to everyone and only limited by the submissions we receive. Because of the technology available, we are able to offer a cross-genre collaboration of edgy and experimental art that explores and expands the definition of how we collectively share and publish work online.
Thank you, Michelle. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.