What Makes An #Editor publish a Short Story in a Literary #Magazine? #writing

Stories in the Lunch Ticket Magazine
Lunch Ticket Magazine

As part of my ongoing guest post series in this blog, Melissa De Villiers recently answered questions on her writing.  Today I’m pleased to welcome David Bumpus from the Lunch Ticket Magazine. Feel free to leave your questions for him in the comments section, and he might stop by to answer them.


1. What drives Lunch Ticket? What are the plans for its future?

Lunch Ticket is Antioch University Los Angeles’ literary magazine, and as such is bound to uphold AULA’s mission to promote social justice by publishing without hesitation meritorious work written by underrepresented and underprivileged voices with the hope that getting their words out into the world will help enact change. As for its future, we’ve been tasked by the university to be the best magazine we possibly can while maintaining that mission. As a relatively new publication though—we’re only just entering our third year of being online—we feel like we’ve only recently finally established ourselves in the literary journal landscape, and we hope that future editors will carry the magazine forward towards realizing its full potential.

2. What do you look for in a story you accept for publication?

In pieces of any genre, we look for mastery of craft and an awareness of social justice. But by mastery of craft—since that’s a pretty general and nondescriptive term—I mean not only that the sentences are meticulously shaped, but that the writer demonstrates a clear understanding of and mastery over the form of their piece: that the structure is well-designed and compliments the function and intention of the piece; that the author doesn’t give in to any overused and diluted tropes; that every detail and nuance is charged with purpose. We want pieces that are fresh and original and have a sense of urgency about what they need to say.

3. What would you like to see more of in the submissions to your magazine, and what would you like to see less?

We like pieces that challenge the status quo, both on the page and off. We want pieces that make us question the way we think and feel, and also challenge our expectations of certain genres. We want less pieces that assume and uphold norms and normative modes of thinking. We want less pieces that follow well-worn grooves. We want pieces that challenge our assumptions, that promote progressive modes of thinking.

4. What tips would you give unpublished writers who are trying to get their first story published in a magazine?

Focus on your craft first: make sure your writing is clear and crisp, and that everything you do is purposeful and contributes to the piece as a whole. Secondly, read the magazines you want to be published in, and then submit what you think would be a good fit. Every magazine has their aesthetic preferences, and you have to send them what they’re looking for if you want to be published by them: it’s unlikely that if you write realist literary fiction you’ll be published in a genre magazine, or if you write experimental poetry you’ll be accepted by a more traditional publication. Submit to the markets that publish what you write, and only after you’ve taken the time to familiarize yourself with them.

5. Please link us to three of your favourite pieces on Lunch Ticket.

I can’t play favourites unfortunately, but I can provide links to a few pieces I found particularly powerful and that I think fully capitalized on our mission:
1. Days 2. Poetics of Resistance 3. Self Portrait: Chicken Dinner 4. Three Thai Poems 5. Weird Gelatinous Things.

6. What is your comment on the future of literary magazines?

It’s hard to say what the future of literary magazines will be because there are so many changes happening so rapidly. I do think that digital publications will continue to outnumber and outgrow print publications though, and that this could potentially create a market that will change not according to the desires of those who can fund the biggest magazines but whose changes will be dictated by the wants of the readers: having the ability to create and share publications has never before been so easily or widely practiced, and never have independent publications been able to have as wide a readership or reach. Because of this, publications can orbit whatever flag they plant in whatever territory or niche they want, and I think the readers will now determine who flourishes and who won’t in a way we haven’t seen before. We no longer have to only read what’s being published by the big names who tell us what we should read because they’re the only ones who are publishing anything: we can seek out what we want to read, because someone out there is publishing it. And if not, then you can create and share your own publication.


Lunch Ticket Magazine: David Bumpus
David Bumpus: Lunch Ticket

David Bumpus holds an MFA in Fiction from Antioch University Los Angeles. As an undergraduate, he studied Mathematics and Philosophy at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico. For a year and a half, he served as the Editor-in-Chief of Lunch Ticket, Antioch’s literary journal committed to promoting social justice. He is also a sponsored motorcycle racer.

Dear readers, do you read literary magazines? Like short stories? Have you heard of the Lunch Ticket? If you write, do you submit to literary magazines? Been published? Do you have questions for David Bumpus?
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I love comments, and I always visit back. Blogging is all about being a part of a community, and communities are about communication! Tweet me up @damyantig !

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  1. Leigh W. Smith

    How interesting! I was just reading, a couple weeks ago, about Lunch Ticket (as well as what they’ve published) and thinking of submitting something, not to mention supporting the magazine. It is great to have the insight David provides here in the interview. Thank you so much, Damyanti.
    One of the highlights from the interview is this gem: “We no longer have to only read what’s being published by the big names who tell us what we should read because they’re the only ones who are publishing anything: we can seek out what we want to read, because someone out there is publishing it. And if not, then you can create and share your own publication.” How true; as journalism has changed through the rise of the ‘citizen reporter,’ so too literary fiction or other genres in publishing. What remains to be seen, I think, is whether writers can have gainful lives in a heavily (or even solely, should the book ever “die”; I have strong doubts on that, but that’s another discussion) digital medium. With the plethora of writing that is out there, for free, a writer is hard-pressed to earn a living from the literary side of things if she is writing, say, short stories, plays, flash fiction, or especially poetry. Those projects would have to be ancillary to another career–either writing-related or not–I think, and would still have to “graduate,” so to speak, to publishing a traditional book (self-pubbed or otherwise). Or, one has a working spouse who can enable you to write full(er) time. In any case, this is a great discussion with helpful mind-reminders!

  2. Birgit

    I love that you want to be challenged and wish to find something different. Great questions and great answers. Very informative

  3. Bruce Goodman

    I really like the fact that you look for “mastery of craft”. So many things I read these days are “scrambled eggs”. It’s why I appreciate the “wright” part of “playwright”. It’s to do with honing the craft, forging the form, hammering the shape… Thanks for an excellent interview.