R109. Surprise Us: Reading Between the Submission Guidelines

Marquis Salon 5, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Two
Thursday, February 9, 2017
9:00 am to 10:15 am


Surprise us: a statement often seen in submission guidelines. But many literary magazines also have aesthetics. How do editors of magazines look for surprises, whether it’s a surprising fit to an existing aesthetic or a surprise that breaks the aesthetic? What advice can they give writers deciding whether or not their work is a fit to submit? This panel, hosted by A Public Space, explores how editors balance the aesthetic of their magazine with the hope writers will surprise them.



Megan Cummins is the managing editor of A Public Space and has worked as a reader in the fiction department at the New Yorker.

Nick Fuller Googins's short fiction has appeared in numerous literary magazines. He is a reader for A Public Space and a volunteer mentor for the Palestinian writing organization We Are Not Numbers.

Thaïs Miller, author of The Subconscious Mutiny & Other Stories and Our Machinery, received her MA in creative writing for social activism from New York University. She teaches creative writing and literature at the Gotham Writers Workshop and UC Berkeley Extension. She is an editorial reader for Zoetrope: All-Story.

Safia Jama, nonfiction editor of Apogee Journal, is a graduate fellow of Cave Canem. She earned a BA from Harvard College and an MFA from Rutgers University-Newark. She teaches and writes in New York City.

Robert James Russell is the author of the forthcoming novel New Plains, Mesilla and Don't Ask Me to Spell It Out. He is the founding editor of the literary journals Midwestern Gothic and CHEAP POP, and he serves as codirector of the Voices of the Middle West literary festival.


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center