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From the Editor: Introduction to MQR 56:2

Introduction by Jonathan Freedman from our Spring 2017 issue. This issue can be ordered for $7 or as part of an annual subscription.

This is the first issue in many decades not supervised by the eagle eye of Vicki Lawrence. Vicki was, during much of the editorship of Larry Goldstein and all of the eight years I have been editor of the journal, our Managing Editor, which means that she did just about everything: copyedited, proofread, supervised all the other manifold details of the publishing process, helped select the covers, talked the authors into her judicious recastings of their more infelicitous, erroneous, or just plain aberrational turns of phrase or thought. She schlepped copies of the journal to the Ann Arbor Book Festival and the AWP convention with equal vigor and tenacity. After giving them her famous grueling editing tests, Vicki supervised our great interns, becoming friends with a number of them over the years, while holding them to the same standard to which she held herself: the highest. She was also a lot of fun to work with. Vicki decided to take retirement this May, and has set out for parts unknown for awhile—the UP? Maine? Bora Bora? Wherever she is chillin’, she will be missed here. Thanks, Vicki, for all that you did for MQR. And when you come back home, don’t be a stranger.

Beginning with our next issue, MQR will be using an online platform created by Submittable to process submissions. We’ve thought long and hard about doing this, worrying that we will be inundated with submissions, that it will change the culture we try to create with our journal, and that especially by charging for submissions, it somehow just isn’t right. We’ve been accepting submissions via Submittable for less than a month, and here are some preliminary thoughts.

Yes, the number of submissions has gone up. The quality has stayed relatively high — roughly where it was in the Pre-Submittable era. I’ve noticed more submissions from relatively young writers — I stress relatively — and more from non-US sources. Both seem to me to be healthy developments, extending the pool from which we can draw as we work to put our issues together. We’ve added two more readers and look forward to having a more diverse set of works for them to choose from. We’ll see if it keeps up.

As for the submission fee, well, it’s a worry. I did ask around and most of the writers whom I spoke with said that it cost just as much to mail submissions, not to mention the time and the hassle involved in getting things into the mail, tracking them, etc. I do want to assure potential submitters that we are charging the minimum — three dollars — and a goodly chunk of that goes to the Submittable folks. And so far the Submittable experience has been great, allowing me, Keith Taylor, and our outstanding cast of readers a chance to access work anytime and any place, comment on it, and get back to understandably nervous writers more quickly.

Sadly, in the immortal words of Robert Heinlein, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. The University of Michigan has been great at supporting MQR, but higher costs on our end and other commitments from theirs mean that we have to look for every revenue source we can. It’s not right, it’s not wrong, it just is. Our interns and assistant editors and other readers are grievously underpaid, but they are paid, and we need to be vigilant about finding ways to pay them. Submittable is just one piece of that puzzle — which we will be putting together in the next years and long thereafter, I am sure.

So that’s where we are in June 2017. Submit, submittably, and blessings onto all of you who write, create, generate new forms of language and explore new arenas of thought — whether we take your work or not. And now, off to the future, together!

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