#75: Behind the Slice Literary Writers’ Conference: An Interview with editor Adina Talve-Goodman, by Liz Mathews

As we continue to prepare for the Slice Literary Writers’ Conference happening in Downtown Brooklyn on September 12 and 13, we’re thrilled to give you an advance introduction to another one of our panelists.

Adina Talve-Goodman is the managing editor at One Story, a fellow lit mag that we at Slice have long admired and love to have as part of our conference year after year. With One Story, that’s what you get every three to four weeks: one really great story, packaged in one tastefully designed and easily transportable issue. No author gets published twice with One Story, and no reader gets let down by the content. As a transplant to the New York lit world from St Louis, MO, Adina is still pleased with her decision and delighted by the writers she works with. She’ll be on our Where They’re Looking for You: Literary Magazines and Indie Presses panel on Saturday, September 12.

What do you look for when considering a story for publication in One Story? Do you have certain criteria you look for, or does it often come down to a feeling?

Because we publish one story at a time, we look for stories that can stand on their own. Apart from that, we really only have our 3,000-8,000 word count. Our main concern is the quality of the writing. We only publish writers once so there’s also a sense of finding the perfect fit for the author and for us.

What advice do you have to authors who are thinking of submitting to One Storyor literary magazines in general?

Subscribe! Contribute to the eco-system of literary magazine life and publishing by subscribing and becoming an active member of the community. It will give you a better idea of what each magazine favors. And if you find a magazine whose work you consistently love, chances are they will like your work as well.

Also, remember to number your pages. Numbered pages mean a lot to us.

Do you have a favorite story of author discovery among the One Story contributors?

I can’t speak for everyone but one of my personal favorites was a few years ago and the story came in through our unsolicited submissions. The writer had submitted upwards of ten times. The story we published blew us away in the slush pile. It felt like magic to find that story but I’m sure that for the writer, it felt like summiting a mountain after a long, consistent climb. After we found that story, I went through and did an average of how many submissions we usually go through with writers before we publish them and it came to around 7. I think for some people it’s discouraging to hear that but for me, as a writer and an editor, that number is actually a comfort. We encourage authors to play the long game, sending feedback when we can, until we find the right story to work on together. It almost always works out.

What drew you to working with One Story?

I started at One Story as an intern in 2010. That year, my friends and I did a Secret Santa gift exchange and my Secret Santa gave me a subscription to One Story. I already knew about the magazine because my college library had a subscription but I wasn’t a subscriber myself. I loved it. That’s what drew me to apply for the internship, I suppose. Then I stuck around after my internship ended as a reader because I just really enjoyed the people and being there. We often talk about One Story as a family and I remember feeling that right away—like I belonged.

Do you have any hints for writers wanting to be discovered? Where are lit mags and indie presses looking for them?

This is a toughie because I don’t think there are any real tricks to getting published. Honestly, we want to publish you as much as you want to be published. So the best advice is to concentrate on your work and really polish it. Write what you have to write, write it well, then work on it some more, maybe show it to a few people and take notes until you think it’s ready to send out. You may not get accepted everywhere but, chances are, you’ll find the magazine that has been looking for a story just like yours.

Liz Mathews is a former publishing veteran recovering from her years in New York by living in Minnesota. After years as a copywriter for a science fiction and fantasy publisher, she now attends science classes, thinks about statistics, and sells books to business people in her spare time.