John P. (Jack) Kristofco, Owner/Publisher
Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.
A: chapbooks, annual journal
Q: What other current publications (or publishers) do you admire most?
A: Those that maintain high standards and publish work that demonstrates skill, art, and craft. We are drawn to poems and stories that prompt a 'wow' response, causing us (the readers) to think: 'I've never thought of X in quite that way,' 'I've never seen X expressed quite like that' (Pound's "make it new" paradigm), and--with particular energy--'I wish I had written that.'
Q: If you publish writing, who are your favorite writers? If you publish art, who are your favorite artists?
A: While we particularly regard the poetry of Stafford, Dickinson, Bishop, Yeats, Cummings, etc. and the prose of King, Joyce, Hemingway, Munro, and O'Brien (among many others), it is our perspective that the 'what' is much more important than the 'who,' and we are drawn to work that resonates with the elements noted in the previous response. We have found exceptional, 'wow' experience work from poets and writers of fiction whose names few (unfortunately) would recognize. That experience has been one of the real joys of doing what we do.
Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?
A: The poetry that we publish emerges from a selection process that is quite rigorous. We usually receive about seven hundred individual poems submitted to our annual Poetry Contest (conducted since 2018). From that seven hundred, we will select about forty pieces to appear in Quiet Diamonds, our annual poetry journal. From the one-hundred seventy-five (or so) poets who enter the Contest, we will invite about fifteen to submit chapbook manuscripts to be considered for publication by Orchard Street. Of those fifteen, we will eventually publish between eight and ten chaps. We are just now getting into publishing fiction (short stories), and I imagine the process will have similar selection elements
Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?
A: Re-read, review, and revise your work to the point where you feel that it is 'the best it can be,' and then, don't be reluctant to send it out into the world. That process, along with responses from the readers/editors to whom you send it, is a great way to grow and develop as a writer. Along those lines, we make it a point to respond to every submission we receive with some comment/observation, especially noting what we found to be the strong points of the submission.
Q: Describe the ideal submission.
A: See item two above: poems, stories that make us say "wow, I wish I had written that," making us eager to publish the work so that it gets out to the audience it deserves.
Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?
A: That doesn't happen very often since the process is fairly clearly laid out. It has happened that poets sometimes submit pieces longer than two pages, but that does not occur very often
Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?
A: We just need the basic 'contact' and follow-up info. The work stands on its own. We do not look at publication credits as a part of the review process.
Q: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?
A: Most often, pieces are read several times (there is a four-step process for the poems we consider). Occasionally, though, a batch of poems may be set aside after a second reading if it is clearly not at the level of the work we are likely to publish.
Q: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?
A: Poems in particular proceed through a series of four blind readings.
Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?
A: I usually set aside 2-3 hours each session for reading poems that have been submitted to the annual Poetry Contest. In that way, I maintain a relatively stable 'energy' so that I do not begin to 'drift' while reading. My goal in the first stages is to bring the 'stack' of poems down from 700 to the approximately 150-200 that will move on to the second stage. I repeat that process while another judge reviews the same bunch of poems. The goal here is to bring the list down to 75 (or so) that will go to the next stage which is similarly structured. Ultimately, we try to identify the three prize-winning poems and the other 40 or so that will appear in Quiet Diamonds. I do this while also shepherding the chapbooks that are going through the publication process (those that were chosen from the previous year's Contest). That involves working with the writers, the manuscripts themselves, and the printers with which we work. At the same time, I'm involved with developing promotional materials for the chapbooks that will be coming out.
Q: How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?
A: Electronic submissions are significantly easier to work with than physical manuscripts, so we ask that writers provide those. Our web manager handles social networking services though we do not dive very deep into that pool. We establish with the writers the number of copies that will be produced and how we and they will work with promotion and sales. We print that number of copies and distribute them accordingly. If additional copies are needed, we will arrange with the writer for production. We do not, except as orders might run ahead of inventory, use a POD model.
Q: How much do you edit an accepted piece prior to publication?
A: We do a careful review of the manuscript to make sure that it is 'tidy' from a basic proofreading perspective. We often discuss with writers issues (most often raised by them) about a word choice/phrase/line, but we do not perceive it to be our task to make substantive changes to the writer's (especially the poet's) work. We always send the author what is about to become the 'final' version of the manuscript (before it goes off for a proof copy) so that it is, as we ask them, "exactly the way they want it to appear."
Q: Do you nominate work you've published for any national or international awards?
A: We did not do much of this in the first few years (2018-2020), but we do more of that now and are likely to increase that as we go forward.