Thrice Fiction features standard short stories as well as flash fiction but also various forms that kind-of sort-of look like fiction but may also be poetry. Read the complete guidelines here.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
RS: Voice, flow, and a piece of your soul. Voice is what you sound like - the thing that differentiates you from the other millions of people who think they can write and makes you unique. We especially like to find the "unique" for Thrice. Flow is where the reading and the subject moves so well it seems automatic and obvious even if there are twists. Carry me along. And a piece of your soul means you put yourself into it. It's akin to and forms a kind of mobius strip with voice. Hard to describe, I know it when I see it.
SQF: What common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a submission?
RS: I wonder about writers who send me submissions outside of the designated reading periods. It couldn't be clearer in our guidelines, so if you miss that, I'm sitting here wondering if you even read them to begin with. Material comes in all the time. Because it is all electronic it's easier to save and set aside. But I'm not a techno star, and I could lose your stuff real easy. Sending something outside the reading periods makes me wonder if you are contributing to our magazine to help us or you are just a scatter-shot operation building a resume. Also, as a writer myself, I can't for the life of me imagine submitting to a publication I've never looked at. Our magazine is a free download. You don't have to spend a dime on it to see what we do. So what the hell?
SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?
RS: Sometimes, yes. Most times, no. If I comment it means you were close. Maybe it was a technical thing or a lapse in voice or something. I won't begrudge a re-submission on those grounds. I like to think I'm writer-friendly. But I'm just not idiot-friendly.
SQF: Will you publish a submission an author posted on a personal blog?
RS: Yes, and we have. I like and prefer new material, but I'm not going to deny something that's perfect for us, or well within the gist of the coming issue, just because it was somewhere else once. Think of it like bands and singers. Sometimes somebody finds a new use for their standard. I can dig that. It all depends on if it fits what we're doing.
SQF: 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?
RS: I'd like them to know that just because something was rejected it doesn't mean it was bad. It could just mean that we're not the right venue for it (I've gotten terrific work that just wouldn't fly for us), or it doesn't fit into what the coming issue is developing into. We work on 100% submissions, with a word out to a handful of writers that we're open to anything they want to send, so as the submission process moves along the coming issue starts to pick up a personality all its own. I could read a submission that's really good, but it won't work with what we're doing. And, generally, that's what I'll say to the writer when I return it. Once in a while I'll even ask if I can keep something through the next reading period - so long as they understand there are no guarantees. But that's rare. If you get that, you're good.
As to the second part of the question - no, emphatically. I don't care how polite. Work it out yourself. Honestly. If I were running a workshop and teaching the thing then yes, of course. But I'm not your mentor, and I'm not your father. I also work a 9 to 5 outside of this. If I comment it means I saw something worth the time, but at some point you've got to take it up with yourself. Look at what I may have said and deal with it. If you think I'm wrong, then okay. But beyond that it's up to you. This isn't a tutorial. Thrice Fiction isn't a college. Put your big girl panties on, or briefs as needed - etc.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
RS: Nothing immediately comes to mind. But I wish writers would think about what a big thing it would be to me to find someone before anybody else knew about them. In the past, in other publications I've edited, I've published people like Hugh Fox, Lorri Jackson, B.Z. Niditch, Jack Foley, and Richard Kostelanetz (go ahead, Google that shit). That's a claim to fame for me as far as I'm concerned - in the world of editors. I'm also a writer myself, but I get such a high at finding someone first or, at least, early on. Just send me the best you have. I'm okay with being a Diaghilev to your Nijinsky.
Thank you, RW. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
NEXT POST: 9/25--Six Questions for Justis Mills, Editor, First Stop Fiction