"Fix It Broken is looking for previously-unpublished works of fiction that range between 500-1500 words." Read the complete guidelines here.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a story and why?
GD: Passion, voice, and wit. I think those three things are extremely evident in great stories.
SQF: What are the top three reasons a story is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to question one and why?
GD: If I’m in a bad mood and want other people to feel utterly dissatisfied with life. I’m totally kidding, obviously. That only happened once. Besides it being obvious that the story was barely proofread, the real reason would be that the story doesn’t leave me feeling like I just got kicked in the mouth. It’s pretty much impossible to put into words, but that’s okay, because I know every other writer and editor understands what I'm getting at. It’s the reason we all do what we do. I suppose mouth is interchangeable with heart, gut, brain, soul.
SQF: What common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a story?
GD: Stories that don’t fall within our word count requirement. Submissions like those reek of laziness. Not all the time, but most of the time. Those are the submissions that tend to be lacking a simple hello.
SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a story?
GD: This is the guilt question. Unfortunately, I’m not able to give feedback to each story I reject due to the amount of submissions we receive and because I’m pretty much working as a one-man team right now. There have been times where I’ve gotten an email back from an author asking for some feedback, and I’ve made sure to find time to provide them with some comments. Sometimes, if there is a story that I feel is so close to “being there,” I will send some comments back with the rejection email. I do personalize each email.
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?
GD: As I said, if an author politely asks for feedback, I am always more than happy to provide some. I’ve heard all the horror stories about unprofessional emails from authors who feel their stories have been unfairly judged. However, that’s the thing – you are sending your story out to be judged. Fix it Broken has only put out two issues so far (the third will be out this July), and I am happy and shocked to say that I have yet to experience these sort of emails. Only one, in which the author proceeded to tell me I was wrong for rejecting their story but that it was fine because writing is subjective art form. I responded by telling them that hubris is also a subjective art form. That was probably wrong of me.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
GD: I think you asked all the right questions, but since you asked so nicely, I suppose an interesting question would be my blood type or zodiac sign. If all editors answered that question, then they could maybe do studies and gather statistics to find out that publications in which the editor is a B negative Scorpio are more likely to accept a wider variety of stories on a yearly basis.
Thank you, Greg. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
NEXT POST: 7/25--Six Questions for Janelle Elyse Kihlstrom, Editor, Melusine