Editors Speak at StoryStudio Chicago

Maria and Panelists

Maria Hlohowskyj, Brian Solem, Ben Tanzer, Sarah Dodson

On what was a warmer-than-usual Saturday afternoon this March, StoryStudio Chicago hosted a panel of local literary magazine editors in their comfortable loft space in Ravenswood. The room quickly filled up with writers, taking every available seat, and all of them eager to hear what editors had to say about the submission process. The panel of experts included: Sarah Dodson, executive director of MAKE Literary Productions; Ben Tanzer, director of publicity & content strategy for Curbside Splendor; and Brian Solem, co-founder and editor of graze.

Storystudio Chicago’s Creative Programs Manager (and DePaul MAWP alum) Maria Hlohowskyj served as the moderator. Being a writer herself, Maria asked all the pressing questions writers might have had about submitting work to these well-known and respected Chicago magazines.

The panel was a great excuse for me to get out and discover the wonderful resource that is StoryStudio Chicago. It feels like a writer’s space the moment you walk in, and it was the perfect spot to drop by on a Saturday afternoon to hear from local literary leaders. I found two interesting pieces came out of this event for me: Of course, the first was insight into the submission process, and second was the growing collaborative community now forming around Chicago literary ventures.

When it comes to the submission process, here’s what we learned:

  • Always read the magazine before you decide to submit.
  • Most editors seem to prefer digital submissions these days, but they’ll always want to produce a physical copy in the end.
  • It’s okay to follow up with editors about your submission.
  • Get out to events and meet the people who run the magazines you like and want to submit to.

I found the last tip the most fascinating, and it certainly hints at this community that is forming in Chicago. Ben Tanzer was the first to mention that he enjoys meeting the writers, and he also said writers should be submitting their work now because this is a very exciting time for the literary scene in Chicago. It’s becoming greater and bigger, he said, and you should submit so you can be a part of something great. We should try to have as many people as possible be a part of it, and I couldn’t agree more.

All of these editors were clearly friends in the journey. I asked how they worked together, if these literary leaders were as collaborative as they seemed to me, and they all agreed this is something they are in together. They root for each other’s success, and Brian mentioned that the other panelists were inspirations to him as his co-founder and he worked to build Graze.

After the panel, the editors stayed and talked to each person who had questions or comments to share with them, and they were among the last people to leave. This is not something many panelists at events I’ve been to have done with such enthusiasm — often editors can seem inaccessible or unapproachable. But in this exciting time for writing and literature in Chicago, it’s clear that we’re about to enter a far more collaborative space, one that values writers, editors, and readers alike. After all, we all have one common goal: sharing our stories with the people who want — and possibly even need — to hear them most.

Be sure to check out Curbside Splendor, MAKE magazine, and graze magazine. And to learn more about StoryStudio Chicago, visit their website and drop by their free class open house event on Thursday, March 27th at 6 PM.

Panelists Talking

The panelists stayed after to talk with the writers.


The panelists spoke to a room full of writers

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Marcy Farrey is a storyteller with a passion for all things literary and independent. She has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University and a Master of Arts in Writing and Publishing from DePaul University. Despite living in Illinois most of her life, she only recently became an official resident of the City of Chicago. She spent the first two years of her career working as a one-man band TV news reporter and producer, and she's still recovering. She now works as a corporate communications professional in Chicago.

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