"Submissions should be short, sweet, to the point - with a beginning, middle and end. Take us along for the ride. Make us feel it, see it, smell it, experience the jarring bumps in the road and bumps on the head, the streaming sunlight of morning and the glowing orange of evening. We want to get close enough to the characters to smell the perfume, the garlic, the gin and whiskey and beer sweating out of their pores. We want to hear their voices and see the expressions on their faces." Read the complete guidelines here.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a story and why?
KM: Three is hard, but here goes...We look for vibrant language, a lack of sticky sentimentality, and well-smithed words. That goes for both fiction and poetry.
SQF: What are the top three reasons a story is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to the above question and why?
KM: This one is easier. For fiction it would have to be excessive length, a sloppy ending, or flat characters. With poetry our major turn offs are rhyme (not all of it, but most of it), all image and no point, or what we like to call 'keep it to yourself poetry'--the kind of stuff you'll wish you just hadn't told the world in a few years, because it makes you look like a total douchnozzle.
SQF: What other common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a story?
KM: Poor grammar, careless typos, manic formatting...these things happen too often. It really bugs us when writers forget the names of their characters mid-story.
SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a story?
KM: Sometimes. The quality of the submissions we receive is usually very high. Often a piece simply isn't right for our market. We're picky. If we feel strongly about suggestions to writers, we offer them. More often we don't want to mess with the author's vision, or we just don't want to publish the piece.
SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?
KM: The importance of knowing your audience, the intricate ins and outs of the cover letter, and how crucial it is to give your work that extra final proofread. Most importantly, as an editor it has become clear just how broad in scope the literary community is today, and how refreshingly supportive it is of itself.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
KM: What qualifies you to be an editor? Well, nothing but an intense nymphomaniacal love of words, a specific and definable aesthetic, the desire to spread the words around like love, and the willingness to make time to do it.
Thank you, Katie. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
NEXT POST: 5/18--Six Questions for Elias Simpson, Chief Editor, Toad