TQR: Total Quality Reading is a brand new e-zine that hopes to break the mold of current e-zines with a different approach and format of existing e-zines by taking a tiered approach with its selection process and making that process visible to the public. It will take a decidedly business approach by considering the stories submitted to it as "capital" and the readers are "investors". The open-vetting process will begin with floor personnel reading. The floor personnel will then pass selected stories up the ladder to "The Terminal". After a reading and discussion is held at this level, chosen stories will then be hand-delivered to the two department heads, the lit fic and the genre fic department. Those department heads with then choose their favorites and have to fight for their choices before the Chairman, the one and only Theodore Q. Rorschalk, the founder and leader of the firm. He'll read and take the advice of both of his department heads, and then make his final decision on what to publish that quarter, with his prime criteria being that the stories are simply of the utmost highest quality.
So, for those of you interested readers, and writers, who are considering investing in this new venture, we're having a little sit-down Q&A with Theodore himself to help explain the process and tell us what we can expect to see on their pages.
1) I notice that your word limit (4,000 – 12,000) is much higher than most e-zines. What makes you think that people are going to be interested in the longer stories?
Rorschalk: It’s been my experience that e-zines have gone ‘flash’ crazy for some time now: publishing the kinds of capital you can start and finish in the time it takes a standard commercial break. With few exceptions, the longer piece is being squeezed out of the Internet because editors don’t think the reading public can bite off more than that.
To this notion I say, “Bully!”
To wean the public back from this sound-bite brink, TQR has fashioned a feature that will allow investors the opportunity to read as much as they can, or care to, one day, come back to the site in a few days to check on the status of this or that piece of capital as it wends its way up the corporate hierarchy and, if so moved to do so, click on ‘Bookmarks’ and start where they left off reading before. It’s my hope that this will get people reading capital of more substance on the Internet again.
2) So a lot of this process sounds like it's going to be transparent. Meaning, there will be public postings and discussions about the stories under consideration. Does that mean you're going to trash certain stories without even publishing them?
Rorschalk: The investors will be privy to the process, but not participate directly. I leave that to my staff of capital managers, whose ruminations over particular capital will, indeed, be transparent, that is viewable by investors, on the site.
To your second question I must tell you that we hold our venture capitalists in the highest regard, and, therefore, wish only to nurture them and their relationships with us at TQR. This is not to say that conflicts between capital managers and their favored capital pieces will not flair up, but, rest assured, though the managers may trash each other, they will not trash the capital, which is the lifeblood of our operation. In fact, our commitment to our venture capitalists is proved out by the personal rejections that will be e-mailed to those individual capitalists that make it past the Floor.
3) The two department heads are Tessa and T. What happens that quarter if they both present you with stories that are great, but you aren't personally very fond of?
Rorschalk: Never fear! I will be armed with two stories that the Floor personnel have set aside to bypass the normal tiered vetting process and deliver directly to me in order that this dreaded exigency ever comes to pass. If T. and Tessa come to me with damaged goods, I’ll trump their asses.
4) You have one department head that favors the artsy-fartsy "literary" works, and one that favors "commercial" fiction. Are we going to see this erupt into a lot of friction? And what "type" of capital do you personally prefer?
Rorschalk: My philosophy is, if there is no conflict, there is no story. And, since the vetting process at TQR is itself a story, then there had better be some weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth! So, to answer your question, “Hell, yes!”
Being sort of something resembling a man, my biases tend toward gratuitous sex, car chases and pyrotechnics, but I have also been known to study Umberto Eco tracts for days on end, trying to winnow out the meaning buried in the unprinted and unalluded to subtext within. So, I heartily recommend you take your best shot and see what sticks to the wall. Believe me you, if something’s really good, it’ll probably stick to my walls.
5) When can we look forward to you starting to take submissions?
Rorschalk: Our official ‘Go’ date is October 15, but we may start accepting capital submissions before then. Please check the site ‘Guidelines’ at your nearest convenience.
6) How many stories per quarter do you plan on publishing?
Rorschalk: The magic number 3. Which is also biblical. So who can argue with that?
7) I see the "Insider Trading" section of the site. Can you explain to me what that is?
Rorschalk: Sometimes there are capital characters that transcend the box they’ve been set in and made to conform to. ‘Insider Trading’ is a chance for those type characters voices to be heard in the form of personal interviews.
8) You're a paying market?? Yowza! So you must really love your venture capitalists/writers? Or is this just the reward you give them for putting them through the hell of being publicly flogged by Tessa?
Rorschalk: The only public floggings will be perpetrated by Tessa on T. or me, and, hopefully, vicey-versey. The remuneration TQR pays in return for its Capital Gains is a small token of the esteem we hold those brave souls who dare open their hearts and veins on the screen for all the world to read and enjoy and, perhaps, to understand and see with that empathy that forces us to admit we’re all just fallen bitches scraping for a bone.
9) Note! I cut the interview short and didn't ask a ninth question because I was too anxious to get on the ball and sub something to TQR!