Danielle Sellers is originally from Key West, FL. She has an MA from The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and an MFA from the University of Mississippi where she held the Grisham Poetry Fellowship. Her poems have appeared in River Styx, Subtropics, Smartish Pace, The Cimarron Review, Poet Lore, Cold Mountain Review, and elsewhere. Her first book, Bone Key Elegies, was published in 2009 by Main Street Rag. She’s editor of The Country Dog Review and teaches at the University of Mississippi. She lives in Oxford, Mississippi with her daughter Olivia.
You’re the founder and editor of CDR. Tell us about how and why you started the journal.
I started the Country Dog Review in the spring of 2009, mostly because it was the first time in many years I didn’t hold some sort of editorial position and missed that in my life. I felt the publishing market needed more champions of poetry, a journal solely devoted to poets, and that’s what I set out to do.
We’re seeing more and more print publications converting to online versions or closing up shop altogether as they struggle with the cost of printing and low numbers of subscriptions. What do you see as the main challenges to online publications? What are the costs of running CDR and how do you pay for those costs?
It’s a shame print publications aren’t supported more; they are a valuable and necessary medium. Having worked in print publishing exclusively before the CDR, the online environment was new to me. One of my beefs with print publication is that it takes so long for a project to come to fruition. Some may say all good things are worth waiting for, but I’m an impatient girl. I like things quick and dirty, and online publishing is a good fit for those who like things quick and dirty. Once you learn the formatting, it’s simple to publish quickly and often. If there’s a mistake, it’s easy to fix.
It costs very little. The largest cost an online journal would have is the site itself, which runs about $200 a year, and advertising. Right now, the CDR is run solely out of my own pocket, so we don’t advertise as much as we’d like to. We’re applying for grants, and there is a contest, The Argos Prize, in the works.
The biggest challenge an online publication has is credibility. For some reason, and this was more prevalent a few years ago when online publishing was relatively new, many still follow the tradition that print is best. I hope the quality of the work showcased at the CDR will help to change that sentiment.
If you could give only one piece of advice to writers wishing to submit to CDR, what would it be?
Take time with your work, and be proud of what you submit.
There’s been lots of talk on the blogosphere about the VIDA report. How does CDR stand up in terms of parity between men and women represented in each issue? What do you think accounts for the disparity in some of our most highly regarded publications?
Perhaps it’s because I’m a woman, but I don’t care whether a poet is a man or a woman. If the work is good, we’ll accept it. Personally as a poet, if a poem isn’t accepted by a journal, it never crosses my mind that it’s because I am a woman, or because I am writing about a particular subject, it’s because what I sent wasn’t my best work.
What advice do you have for other editors or those thinking about building an online literary magazine?
Editing an online journal can be a lot of fun, but it’s difficult to be seen as credible right out of the gate. Even when solicited, many of our most talented poets won’t contribute their work because they only want to appear in the most highly-regarded or most well-known journals. There’s a lot of snobbery going on. While this is understandable, it’s frustrating at the same time, so be prepared for that.
Thanks so much to Danielle Sellers for taking the time to speak with AngelSpeak. Check out the links below for more information on the Country Dog Review and its fabulous editor: