Interview with Brian Joseph Davis
of Joyland Magazine

Interviewed by Sebastian H. Paramo


Can you tell us why you started Joyland?

Myself and co-publisher Emily Schultz were laid off from our jobs at a magazine and a publisher at the same time. Starting our own publication seemed like the thing to do with our unemployment money.

That’s awesome! The idea of having regional editors is unique, could you talk about how that came about and how it affects your submission process?

Emily is a novelist and I was doing music back then so we toured around North America. We made a lot of friends and having them be editors was a good way to keep in touch. Most of those early editors have moved on and the current ones we've met through the site.

What's the most difficult part of being an editor?

Hardest part of being an editor: Keeping an open heart. Being a publisher: Just the daily mechanics of keeping it running.

Could you talk about your Rejections Guidelines, what inspired that?

Our rejection policy got into a mess early on. We're writers too so we never wanted to do form rejections and we started with individual rejections. Then we got really busy then had to do form rejections. Then our submissions got so busy we couldn't even send form rejections. When people don't hear back , they're upset and rightly so. The Rejection Guidelines then are our way of explaining things that you only learn when you work at a magazine or publishing house--that 95 percent of the time, not selecting a work has nothing to do with the quality of the work. It's the volume of the submissions, it's the time we can give to the submissions, it space, it's money. Basically, there are humans on the other end of that email doing the best they can.

Some people wonder about how small presses and journals fund themselves. How do guys get funded and how can others support your journal?

We started with our own money and now we get a small yearly grant, and revenue from a POD anthology. Both of those took time though.

You mean Print on Demand?

Yep. Print On Demand (as offered through Create Space or Lulu).

What other projects are you working on right now?

On Joyland we're getting our podcast going again after both Emily and I were off working on film project.

What advice would you give to would-be publishers of literary journals and/or writers?

Keep submissions open, always. And treat submitting writers well--they are your readership, especially early on. Keep to a good response policy. Be clear and transparent.

Lastly, could you recommend any must-read literary journals and why we should be reading them?

Keeping with our regional character, here's a recommendation for every region.

  • NY: Vol. 1 Brooklyn
  • Midwest: Pank
  • San Francisco: Zoetrope All Story
  • Los Angeles: The Los Angeles Review of Books
  • South: Black Warrior Review
  • Vancouver: Prism
  • Toronto: The Puritan
  • Montreal: Matrix


Visit Joyland Magazine for more information.