Please welcome to the Editor’s Q&A corner The Sunlight Press Editors, Rudri Patel and Beth Burrell. Rudri and Beth share everything you need to know about getting published in their paying publication, and also fill us in on their funding model and plans to pay writers more in the future.
Q: The Sunlight Press is quite new! Tell us about the site and what made you want to start it.
A: The Sunlight Press is a digital literary journal that provides a home to new and established voices. We welcome creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, reviews, photography, and artist reflections on their craft. We want to hear the ways people turn toward light and hope, whether it is through the arts, culture, spirituality or humor, and also how they respond to the darkness and navigate unknown spaces. Transformative moments are open to interpretation. When we evaluate a piece of writing we look for crisp writing, a strong narrative, and whether a specific personal truth conveys a universal message.
The two of us began working together as editors of another online journal in 2016. We quickly discovered we wanted to serve as founders and editors on our own site. We launched The Sunlight Press on Jan. 11, 2017. In a short time, we realized how much we enjoyed working with each other, featuring writers’ work, and creating our site from the ground up. We both love reading and were thrilled initially to get submissions, then even more excited to discover so many talented writers.
Q: So let’s have a state of the union for TSP. What are some of the highs and lows (or learning curves) you’ve experienced since starting the site?
A: Collaborating together is gratifying. We enjoy discussing the work we receive and commenting on the strengths and weakness of a particular piece. In this digital age, it is a joy to connect virtually and find kinship in a common platform.
Our goal from the outset has been to respond to writers quickly on the status of their work and keep them informed about the process. We understand writers take a risk when they submit and we want to convey to them that their work matters. Our writers consistently comment on how much they appreciate our quick acknowledgment of their work.
This past year we’ve published a number of Pushcart Prize nominees, as well as an elderly writer who took a leap to “start a career in writing,” by submitting an essay to our journal. We are thrilled to publish a range of voices, from the novice to the established.
Although we haven’t experienced many lows, as writers ourselves, we’ve both experienced rejection. Sometimes identifying the work we want to publish is a challenge and informing writers their piece is not suitable for our site isn’t easy. We encourage writers to read the publication thoroughly, proofread their work, and pay attention to the submission guidelines.
Q: Writers will find word count requirements for personal essays, fiction, reviews, and your Artists on Craft series in your submission guidelines. You also accept photography. What kinds of topics are you interested in/not interested in?
A: We are especially interested in hearing about the journeys of writers, good and bad; cathartic and surprising life moments – humorous and serious; we typically do not feature pieces that are openly political and religious. We welcome hearing from artists of all types for our Artists on Craft series (i.e. dancers, comedians, writers, and those who are in the creative arts). We recently featured Allison Watman – a circus artist.
We aren’t interested in diary entries and prefer essays which focus on a life-changing moment. Before submitting an essay, ask “How will my experience touch other people?” For fiction, we are open to experimental pieces as well as traditional short stories. Character and plot driven narratives which have open endings are particularly compelling to our readers.Submit your writing to The Sunlight Press @Sunlight_Press Click To Tweet
Q: Can you point us to a few pieces that your readers are loving since you launched the site?
A: The Sunlight Press features a range of voices; we firmly believe in our mission to support established and emerging writers. We love the work of all our writers, but the following pieces have done particularly well with our readers. All of these pieces seek to make a personal truth resonate with a larger audience.
A Writer’s Frenzied Attempt to Capture Ideas by Nina Badzin (Artist on Craft)
The Wonder by Elizabeth Helen Spencer (Book Review)
Dear Crushed One by Chloe Cela (Essay)
Cafe of Secrets by Julianne Palumbo (Essay)
Rust by Clive Collins (Fiction)
The Rose Thief by Petrea Burchard (Fiction)
Tabula Rasa by Tara Mandarano (Poetry)
Hypothetical Life and Ratatouille for One by Erika Dreifus (Poetry)
Robin Williams and Orson, The Neighbors, and The Lost Crown by Atar Hadari (Poetry)
Green Tea in a Pink Room by Anca Szilagyi (Prose Poem)
Q: Can you walk us through your typical timeline from submission to publication?
A: We respond as promptly as possible to every submission, usually within 24 hours acknowledging receipt; both of us read all submissions and we hold weekly meetings to discuss pieces and to plan our editorial calendar. We publish a rotating schedule on Mondays and Wednesdays of essays, short stories, poetry, book reviews, and Artists on Craft pieces. Our goal is to inform a writer within three weeks of submission whether the piece is accepted, rejected, or returned to the writer for revision. Once a piece is accepted, we strive to publish within three months.
Q: Do you ever publish previously published work?
A: Our site generally features original work. In certain circumstances we accept previously published work. However, we do not pay for republished pieces.
Q: What can you tell us about your rates and promotion?
A: At this time, original pieces receive $25.00 upon publication. We hope to increase this amount in the future.
We promote a writer’s work via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. It stays on our site as a featured piece for at least a week.
Q: I was so excited to see that you were paying writers right out of the gate. Can you share any secrets about your funding model?
A: The two of us each invested in The Sunlight Press when we launched this year. We have received several small donations of funding (as well as one tied to a fiction and nonfiction awards contest – see below). Our goal is to seek nonprofit status for our journal so that contributions are tax-deductible and so that we have the funding to increase our payment to writers.
Q: Do you publish writers who are based internationally?
A: Yes. We have published pieces from writers who live in Canada, England and Japan. We welcome writers who are based internationally. Payment to these writers is via US dollars.
Q: Tell us about the awards The Sunlight Press gives out and how pieces become eligible for them.
A: Any non-fiction piece (essay) submitted or published from March 15-June 15 will be considered for our nonfiction contest. Our fiction contest is June 15- Sept. 15, with the same guidelines. An anonymous reader donated the money as a way to support artists. We are very grateful for this support and plan to offer more contests in the future.
Q: What are your expectations as far as how you would like writers to promote their writing?
A: Since we are a new literary journal we are trying to build our audience. When a piece goes live on The Sunlight Press, we promptly send our writers the link and promote their work across our own social media channels via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and in our Newsletter. We want readers to discover the writers we are thrilled to feature and encourage our authors to promote their pieces.
Q: Both of you are probably spending lots of time working on this site. How do you split the responsibilities, and what other projects are you involved with?
A: We work together as a team, cull our submissions collaboratively, as well as discuss edits and photography and art for all pieces. When one of us isn’t completely available, the other editor steps in and completes whatever task is pending. The key in our relationship is keeping communication open and we are frequently in touch via phone, email and text.
Rudri Patel: I am working on a memoir, freelance full-time for local and national outlets and offer my consulting services for writing coaching, developmental and line-by-line editing. For more information, please see my website, Being Rudri or reach out to me via my email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beth Burell: I have worked as a daily newspaper reporter covering a range of topics and in school communications. I am currently freelancing and researching a childhood tragedy for a longer work. When not writing and editing, I tutor adults in reading and writing, some seeking their GEDs.
Q: What is next for The Sunlight Press?
A: We have recently hired a volunteer intern who is earning graduate degrees in English and theology. She will help with many of our day-to-day tasks as well as reading submissions, editing, and proofreading. As mentioned, we are working to become a nonprofit so that we may seek grant funding, accept tax-deductible donations, and have the ability to pay writers more for their work.
As with all new ventures, we are seeking to build our audience and platform. We encourage those who enjoy the site to sign up for our Newsletter and follow us on our social media channels.