SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
- Correct formatting - shows professionalism.
- A story that grabs me from the first line - we read several stories a day so you need to stand out.
- A story that makes me feel something - a story that doesn't engage us is not something we want to read.
SQF: When reading a submission, what clues tell you the submission was written by a novice author?
A: There is no reason why a novice author should not be able to submit a story in the same condition a professional author would, the most common mistakes are below and include not reading the guidelines and adhering to the rules. Yes, some rules are set in stone. Professional authors tend to be very polished: very few, if any, typos, standard manuscript format, meet deadlines, etc.
SQF: What other common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a submission?
A: Incorrect formatting, typos, bad grammar and punctuation, not meeting the writers guidelines. The guidelines are there to help you and us. They tell you what we want. If you can't provide what we want there are other authors who will. Your story, no matter how marvelous, won't be considered if you can't meet the guidelines.
Stories with familiar themes or stereotypes, lacking good characters or settings, clunky dialogue, bad descriptions, lack of plot, lack of atmosphere, etc.
SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?
A: When we can we do. Sometimes stories just don't fit, even if the story is perfectly good. If there are ways of improving the story to a degree that it is publishable, we will try to work with the author to fix it.
SQF: What do you consider to be the primary responsibilities of an editor?
A: To produce the best publication possible. To edit the material to a publishable standard. To find and nurture talent.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
A: What piece of guidance would you give a writer thinking of submitting? Read the magazine, as many issues as possible to give you an idea of what we publish. Then read the guidelines.
Thank you, Adam. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
NEXT POST: 5/28--Six Questions for Amanda Bales, Fiction Editor, Umbrella Factory Magazine