Betwixt publishes speculative fiction of all sorts—fantasy, science fiction, horror, slipstream, weird fiction, punk, you name it. We particularly like stories that smash genre boundaries to smithereens, but we also love fresh takes on established genres and in-depth explorations of ultraspecific niches. Read the complete guidelines here.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
JC: Quality writing, first of all. Of course, quality is an inherently subjective term. To me, a well-written story is one that grabs the reader’s attention at the beginning and holds on to it throughout, has a full and well-developed narrative with no missing or superfluous chunks, flows well, and acknowledges the rules of grammar and punctuation before trying to break them. Second, I look for stories that are thought provoking without being preachy. I don’t need a philosophical treatise, but I do need some sense of emotional or psychological or spiritual or ethical depth. Third, stories must be entertaining. If a story is a slog to get through, I’ll keep reading, because that’s my job. But the magazine’s readers won’t—if you lose them, they’re gone.
SQF: What common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a submission?
JC: Sending us a sloppy cover letter is the quickest way to make a negative impression. We ask only for the writer’s name and the story’s title and word count, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want complete, properly capitalized and punctuated sentences. While we always appreciate when an email begins with a formal salutation, we encourage writers to double check the gender of the editor before choosing “Dear Sirs” or “Dear Mr. Crelin.” Sloppiness is also a common mistake in the stories themselves. If there are multiple typos in the first paragraph of a story, it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the piece.
SQF: Will you publish a submission an author posted on a personal blog?
JC: No—we buy first rights and are not currently seeking reprints of any kind, no matter the form of distribution.
SQF: What do you want authors to know about the submissions 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?
JC: Please remember that it isn’t personal—we reject stories, not people. Writers are always welcome to submit further stories after having a story rejected, and I’ve found that oftentimes, second or third submissions end up being closer to what we want. Unfortunately, time constraints make it impossible for us to provide a personal critique for every rejected story, but if a writer emails us with polite questions, we do try to respond as best we can.
SQF: What is the best part of being an editor?
JC: Ooh, that’s a tough one—there are so many great parts! I’d say the best part is introducing readers to new writers (or writers they simply haven’t heard of yet).
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
JC: Since we’re a new magazine rather than an established one, I wish you’d asked about our publication schedule. Issue 1 of Betwixt will (barring some sort of catastrophe) be published on October 1, and issues will appear quarterly thereafter. All issues will be free to read online, and ebook and print-on-demand issues will also be available for purchase.
Thank you, Joy. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
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