Monday, February 15, 2010

Six Questions for Robert Neilson, Editor, Albedo One

Albedo One, based in Dublin Ireland, publishes science fiction, horror, and fantasy. Stories of all lengths are read, but the preferred length is between 2,500 and 8,000 words. The magazine also includes interviews with high profile authors and media personalities, and book reviews. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a story and why?

RN: Character, plot and good writing. But most importantly that wow factor. The reason we reject most stories is that they just don't jump off the page and grab you. It's hard to explain but you always know the stories that are really going to be popular with readers.

SQF: What are the top three reasons a story is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to question one and why?

RN: The writer has never read an issue of the magazine and has no real idea of what we are looking for.

Mediocrity, I'm afraid. We would prefer a flawed story that attempted greatness than an ordinary one that 'ticked all the boxes'.

A number of very good stories die on the last couple of pages. It is the most common problem with stories that get close but just fail to make it. I might call it the Stephen King problem. Writes great books but not always great endings, like THE GIANT SPIDER FROM OUTER SPACE in IT.

SQF: What common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a story?

RN: Mistakes, whether in language, or grammar or spelling or punctuation. We spend a lot of time reading stories (a lot of which are less than you would hope) and the least the writer can do is proof his story before sending it off.

SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a story?

Only if the story is very good, but not good enough.

SQF: I read a comment by one editor who said she keeps a blacklist of authors who respond to a rejection in a less than professional manner. I'm sure you know what I mean. What do you want authors to know about the stories you reject and how authors should respond? Along this same idea, do you mind if authors reply with polite questions about the comments they receive?

I have to say that I would prefer not to get into a dialogue with an author. If I provide comments it is because I feel the writer is worth encouraging or the story could be publishable with improvements. We very seldom ask authors to make changes and re-submit, but it does happen.

Mostly authors are nice and polite in their emails. Be smart or snippy and you'll never publish in that magazine. The best idea about writing to a magazine that has rejected your story (unless it is to say thanks for the encouraging comments) is don't.

SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't, and how would you answer it?

RN: Have e-zines damaged the future for hard copy magazines?

No. I think there will always be a niche for hard copy magazines, although perhaps that is the writer in me being hopeful. There is nothing better than getting a magazine or book through the post with your work in it. Apart from football and the love of a good woman.

Thank you, Bob. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

NEXT POST: 2/17—Six Questions for Jay Faulkner, Editor, With Painted Words


  1. I recently discovered this blog and really like it. Keep it up!

  2. Thanks, Hector. Glad you like it. The response from the editors has been great. I'm currently scheduling for May.