“Founded in 1997 by Andrew McAleer and Edgar Allan Poe award-winning author, John McAleer, Austin Layman's Crimestalker Casebook (ALCC) is a semi-annual crime fiction publication of traditional mystery short shorts and P.I. stories.” Learn more here.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a story and why?
AM: A good, traditional mystery with fun characters. Interesting setting and a good ear for dialogue are a must. Humor is always a plus. Good characters can add to the suspense. If readers care about the characters, then they care about what happens to them. They want to know how the central character is going to get out of whatever jam she got into. And if there's a little humor along the way this can also keep readers, agents, and editors interested in your work. I cover some good suspense and plot angles in my books the 101 Habits of Highly Successful Novelists and Mystery Writing in a Nutshell.
SQF: . What are the top three reasons a story is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to the above question and why?
AM: Crimestalker Casebook publishes short-short mystery stories with a max 1,200 word count. Not following submission guidelines, such as going beyond word length is a sure path to rejection. Unrealistic plots. Gratuitous violence and gore.
SQF: What other common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a story?
AM: Always proofread work. Avoidable errors turn an editor off and show that the author doesn't really care about his/her work. If the author doesn't care neither will an editor. No cover letter submitted with story is annoying. Tell the editor what to do with the submission, who you are, and what you have accomplished as a writer--or hope to accomplish.
SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a story?
SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?
AM: Always, always, always follow submission guidelines meticulously. Know what type of submissions the publisher is looking for. Reading is the best way to learn how to write. It's okay to be a "new" writer. Many unpublished authors write quite well and can tell a good story.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
AM: What is the most satisfying part of being an editor?
At Crimestalker we focus on giving new writers of merit a chance to get published. I truly enjoy the feeling of notifying a new writer that their story has been accepted. Many of our new writers have gone on to publish books and one author went on to win a Shamus Award.
Thank you, Andrew. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
NEXT POST: 11/15--Six Questions for Jessie Carty, Managing Editor, Referential Magazine