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On Submission with Gold Man Review Founding Editor Heather Cuthbertson






Gold Man Review is a West Coast literary journal that publishes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from writers in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington. I had the opportunity to meet them after my own short story, “The Mannequin of Lot 18,” was published in issue 13 of their journal. The entire process was a refreshing experience when compared to some other literary magazines that had accepted my work. This made me want to interview them to get behind-the-scenes insights about their team and their publication process.

Before we get to our conversation, I wanted to share their mission statement, which really resonates with me, as a writer:

Our mission statement of “Creativity Becomes Community” was inspired by our belief that artists are vital and there is an ongoing need to continue and further education in the arts. Gold Man Review was our advocacy turned into action by offering an additional voice to writers and poets on the West Coast. We strive to recognize all our contributors by submitting their work to the Pushcart Prize, O’Henry Prize Stories, and the Best of American anthologies.

I chatted with Heather Cuthbertson, founder and editor-in-chief of the journal. Now through June 23, 2024, you can submit your poetry, non-fiction, and fiction to their journal for publication. But before you do, be sure to read our discussion.

Gold Man Review

WOW: First of all, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. Tell our readers how Gold Man Review started and why you decided to start the journal.

Heather: It started as my field project for my MFA program. We had to do something writing-related for the community. Some people in my cohort did a writing program for high school kids. Others went to the jail or prisons and did one there. I started Gold Man Review. I had always been interested in the other side of publishing and wanted to experience what that was like. Because it was for my field study it had to be very localized, so the first issue of Gold Man [published in 2011] only had contributors from Salem, Oregon and the Greater Salem area. Also, fun fact, it’s the only issue that has writing from the editors.

WOW: I love how it grew to include all West Coast writers! How did you come up with the name Gold Man Review?

Heather: The name came about because of the Golden Pioneer on top of the State Capitol Building in Salem, Oregon. I remember when I first moved to Salem and driving downtown, I saw it glinting in the rare sunshine and thinking, “They have a gold man on top of a building.” Years later, when we were trying to come up with a name for the journal (some were doozies, let me tell you), I saw the statue on my drive home and it stuck.

WOW: I can only imagine what some of those ideas were! Can you tell me about others on your team and their role?

Heather: Since Gold Man Review works on a volunteer basis, I’ve had many editors come and go. Originally, we were all in Salem, Oregon and then after I moved to Redding, California, I started finding people there. We’re in the process of updating our website, but right now there’s Ashley Rich. She’s been with Gold Man since, I believe, 2017. She recently moved to Oklahoma. She used to be my golf buddy, so I’m still bummed that she left. There’s also Eric Halpenny, who’s been an editor with Gold Man since 2022. By day, he’s an engineer and, by night, he writes books in French for an educational company. My most recent addition is Kaitlyn Price. She has her MA in English from Chico State and works as a substitute teacher at the high school.

Every year, I generally have a reader or two that come on board. This year we have Isabel Streiffer. She’s a recent college graduate and lives in Riverside, California.

Heather Cuthbertson

“Writing is so isolating that it can feel very lonely at times. When writers come together to talk about writing it creates almost a palatable energy. Things happen. Gold Man Review was one such thing that happened.”

WOW: Everyone’s eclectic backgrounds are so interesting. I really appreciate that you focus on West Coast writers! Why did you narrow your focus to that region?

Heather: It happened sort of gradually. After our first issue, we opened submissions to all of Oregon for a few years and then decided just to go with the whole of the West Coast. That’s where we landed and haven’t moved from since. With so many literary journals out there, I think it gives us a niche and keeps our voice consistent.

WOW: That's so true! What else makes your journal stand out from others?

Heather: I think it’s our West Coast vibe. We have a unique voice and way of looking at things that sets us apart from the rest of the country.

WOW: As a lifelong West Coaster-er, I totally see what you mean. I truly support your mission statement of “Creativity Becomes Community.” Why did you choose that as your mission statement?

Heather: It’s because I’m a huge supporter of writers coming together to create a sense of community. Writing is so isolating that it can feel very lonely at times. When writers come together to talk about writing it creates almost a palatable energy. Things happen. Gold Man Review was one such thing that happened. I recruited my entire critique group for that first issue. If it wasn’t for them, I would’ve never gotten it to publication. I only learned how, and did it, because I had their support.

A writing community can be inspiring to those who need some motivation or invigorating to others who have gotten stuck. Writing, like most art forms, is so layered with many, many moveable parts that it’s impossible to know it all. Every writer has something to bring to the table.

WOW: Absolutely! How many submissions do you receive each year and what is your acceptance rate? And what is your average response time?

Heather: We’ve been growing steadily over the years. Last year we received about 800 submissions. Of those, our acceptance rate was 5%. The ideal was to get back to submitters within 90 days. We’re trying to get better, but it takes us longer on average. The cutoff though is July. We’ll for sure get back to submitters by then for fiction or nonfiction. For poetry, the cutoff is around August.

WOW: That’s good to know. I think your response time for me was quick based on my overall experience. What do you look for in submissions?

Heather: I’m a huge fan of the odd and unusual. Those stories always catch my eye, especially if it’s done well. I also like humor. It’s really hard for me to say, “No,” when it made me laugh. Otherwise, I think we’re no different than any other journal. We’re looking for great writing matched to a brilliant story idea.

Heather Cuthbertson

“I’m a huge fan of the odd and unusual. Those stories always catch my eye, especially if it’s done well. I also like humor. It’s really hard for me to say, 'No,’ when it made me laugh.”

WOW: I really enjoy odd and unusual too. What is the cycle of a submission as it gets read by your volunteer staff?

Heather: Once it comes in, I check to make sure it meets our demographic requirement. It used to be a bigger problem in year’s past, but not so much anymore. Still, I generally get a few that don’t meet it. Those are rejected at that point. From there, I assign the submissions to everyone, including myself, and we read them together. We kind of go at our own pace, finding gems that we’ll text to each other. Most of our submissions are accepted at the end of the submission period. Not always, but usually.

WOW: That’s good to know. What qualities make you immediately say to yourself, “I think we want this one.”

Heather: I just read one recently that did that to me. It was several things: the voice, the character, and a story that wove the past and the present in such a lyrical way. It was just beautiful, so I had to say, “Yes.” But other examples are when a story or an essay strikes through my emotional barrier and sort of digs around in there or it’s something that makes me think differently and/or gives me a new perspective. Once, I published a story about two sisters based on a single sentence because it hit so hard I had to keep it.

WOW: I love that! It’s rare to capture a story in a sentence, too. What are aspects of a submission that can lead to its rejection?

Heather: It’s different with nonfiction, fiction, and poetry, but if I had to say one thing that would connect overall, it would be a lack of story. Even in poetry, there’s a beginning, middle, and end, or one that can be inferred in the reading of it. Then there’s the standard reasons: overuse of passive voice, grammatical issues, overwriting, etc. We’ve rejected work with ideas that we really loved, but the writing just wasn’t there yet and needed a few more rounds of edits.

WOW: Understandable. What do you wish writers knew when they submitted their work?

Heather: We love great literary work like the next journal, but we also like to be entertained. We still want that hook in the beginning, that lure that draws us forward and gives us a reason to keep reading, along with stakes and conflict. While we’re not looking for genre stories, we do like elements of genre in the literary landscape. As far as poetry, we’re not big into nature or medical poems.

Heather Cuthbertson

“I doubt any of the poets know who submit their work to us that we read them aloud at Barnes and Noble, our regular meeting place. We huddle together with our laptops at the café and start reading the ones we like to each other to hear how they sound.”

WOW: Being entertained is so important! I love the care you put into your publishing process. What is the behind the scenes info you can share?

Heather: We do a lot of the same things most publishers do. We talk about submissions, go back and forth on what we liked, what we didn’t like, etc. All accepted work, outside of poetry, is edited by all of us. When one person is done, it goes to the next and then the next until it’s completed.

Here’s one thing though: I doubt any of the poets know who submit their work to us that we read them aloud at Barnes and Noble, our regular meeting place. We huddle together with our laptops at the café and start reading the ones we like to each other to hear how they sound. Anyone sitting nearby gets an impromptu poetry reading, but the process is very effective. All the poems that have been published in Gold Man have been read aloud several times.

WOW: That is an incredible reminder to read your own work out loud! That must be a fascinating poetry reading for all who overhear it. Thank you so much for your time today. I hope all the West Coast readers of WOW will submit to your journal. I can’t wait for the next issue!

Gold Man Review

Many thanks to Gold Man Review’s founding editor-in-chief, Heather Cuthbertson! West Coast writers: if you’d like to submit your poetry, non-fiction, and fiction for consideration in Gold Man Review’s next issue, remember their deadline is June 23, 2024. Fiction and nonfiction submissions should be no longer than 5,000 words. For poetry, you can submit up to either three short poems or longer poems with a three-page maximum. There is no fee to submit:



Nicole Pyles

Nicole Pyles is a writer living in Portland, Oregon. Her writing has appeared in Sky Island Journal, Arlington Literary Journal, The Voices Project, The Ocotillo Review, and Gold Man Review. A poem of hers was also featured in the anthology DEAR LEADERS TALES. Her short story, “The Mannequin of Lot 18,” was nominated for Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy for 2024. Since she’s not active on social media very much, stay in touch by following her writing blog at World of My Imagination.


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