Thursday, January 26, 2012

Six Questions for Krishan Coupland, Editor, Neon Literary Magazine

Neon publishes prose and poetry of any length. "We seek work that is beautiful, shocking, intense and memorable. Darker pieces are generally favoured over humorous ones--as are free verse poems over those that rhyme. Genre work is welcome, experimentation is encouraged." Read the complete guidelines here.

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

KC: A clear, flowing written style; some degree of originality; and a 'feel' that matches the aesthetic of the magazine.

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

KC: A dull opening and a weak finish can both let down an otherwise decent piece. Bad spelling or grammar is also somewhat worrying: although I don't expect every piece I read to be perfect in this respect, I do hope to not find more than a few technical mistakes per page.

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

KC: Many writers send work as an attachment, despite it being stated in the guidelines to send work inline. When I receive a submission as an attachment I can only conclude that the writer hasn't read the guidelines, which is very disappointing.

SQF: What is it about the characters in a story that makes them pop off the page and grab hold of you?

KC: There's no single thing I can think of that makes the characters in a story seem real or alive. The least I can say is that it's important to me that they don't sound as though they exist solely to be a mouthpiece for an author's strongly-held views.

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?

KC: I often wish all authors understood that the only criteria by which I judge their work is how suitable it might be for the magazine. A rejection doesn't mean that I think a piece is 'bad'. Indeed, I reject many excellent, inventive, well-written stories and poems simply because they are not the right flavour for Neon. I'm always happy to receive and answer polite questions about a rejected piece. I'm less happy to instantly receive another submission by return of email, as this gives me the impression that the author is simply firing off every bit of work they have in the hope that something will stick. Waiting just a few days allows me to consider each new submission fairly and with a clear mind.

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

KC: I think a good question would be: "What else (other than a piece of writing) do you expect to receive in a submission email?"

The answer would be a brief, polite cover letter (stating that the enclosed work is for consideration for the magazine), a short biography of the writer (no more than 100 words), and information on whether the submitted piece has been published before. Comments about the magazine (perhaps how the writer discovered it, or what their favourite piece from a recent issue is) are very welcome, but by no means necessary. I prefer not to receive long lists of publication credits, or a synopsis of the story /poem.

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

NEXT POST: 1/30--Six Questions for Bradley Wonder, Editor-in-Chief, 5X5

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