Death Head Grin publishes horror but is open to other genres. The editor accepts flash fiction to 1000 words, short stories from 1001 to 7000 words, poetry, and artwork. Read the complete guidelines here.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a story and why?
- Is it entertaining? It has to be entertaining so the readers will enjoy it. First and foremost, the main goal of Death Head Grin is to entertain.
- Is it original? I do not like to reject stories. I have a wide variety of tastes, and the readers like the variety I try to bring them. If you read your story and you can think of three or four movies, a couple of books, and maybe another short story or two there is a good chance it will get rejected, and not just by me.
- Is the story well written? Before you send your story look at it yourself. Does it flow well? I am probably not the most critical of editors out there, but I do expect a contributor to at least make me think they tried to edit the story themselves before they sent it in.
SQF: What are the top three reasons a story is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to question one and why?
- Stories that deal with abuse, senseless violence or just sex. I do not mind sex or violence in a story, but I will not read a book or watch a movie just for the sex, violence or any of that. There has to be a point to it, and if you can make me see the point you are trying to make then you are safe.
- Guidelines. I am not a stickler when it comes to guidelines, and for the most part, the people who submit to me follow them pretty closely. Still there are some who send in their work in some unusual font where the letters are two inches tall or something else like that. It is not hard to change the font, I realize that, but 99% of the time I delete those submissions without going any further than opening it.
- Characters. Are the good guys likable, and will I be happy when the bad guy dies? Try to give your character at least some aspect that most people can relate to or sympathize with, or despise if it is the villain.
SQF: What other mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a story?
LG: Excessive grammar or spelling problems.
SQF: What is it about the characters in a story that makes them pop off the page and grab hold of you?
LG: If they have some aspect or quality that I can relate to or if it reminds me of somebody I know. It makes it easier to smile when the bad guy gets it in the end if they remind you of somebody in your own life that is not very nice. The same goes for cheering a hero on.
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?
LG: I like to swap email with the authors or artists who send me submissions. I have not had a nasty one yet, and I am probably lucky. If I reject a story, I tell the author why. Most of the time it is due to space. It is September, and I am filling up the January issue now. Sometimes you just run out of space. If I reject a story for some other reason, I try my best to explain to the author why I rejected it and try to make them feel welcome to submit to me again in the future.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
LG: What is one thing you would like to see more in stories? Dark humor...find the funny side to all the terror and death you are writing about and use it.
Thank you, Larry. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
NEXT POST: 10/20--Six Questions for Ginger Murchison, Elizabeth Cornell, Jennifer Wallace, The Cortland Review