Friday, April 4, 2014

Six Questions for Al Kaspar, Editor-in-Chief, Uncharted Frontier EZine

Uncharted Frontier publishes fiction, poetry, and some photography/art by yet to be discovered talent. Read the complete guidelines here.

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

Al Kaspar:

1. Cleanly formatted documents/files. I can't stress enough how important this is and can affect submission acceptance. Because we release mainly to a mobile audience, we have a strict styling format that we have to follow. We do all the hard work in this regard, but sending us a submission that has 3 different fonts, excessive paragraph spacing "for dramatic effect," etc. is never a good thing. We've literally had to turn down a decent story or two because the effort to reformat it would hit our deadlines.

A tip for writers thinking about using fonts, spacing, multi-colors (need I go on?): DON'T. Let your story be the central piece of drama. Everything else will get in the way.

2. Semi-professional presentation. This includes everything from minimal typos (I understand we all aren't editors and can't get everything) to a good grasp of grammar and punctuation. Again, we're not looking for professionally edited submissions (again, that's our job), but I can spot a submission immediately that an author hasn't bothered to proofread. We also have one piece stuck to the wall in the office that had the worst grammar and punctuation I've ever seen. It's creator had a professional writer's bio, but the submission didn't reflect this at all. It looked like they took a play, and pasted it to look like a story. We still try to see who can read it aloud to the end without laughing. To date, no one has.

Another tip for writers: You submissions reflect you as a writer. Be professional, even to the smallest publication, treat them (and your submission) with respect. You never know who will pick up our (or any other) EZine and read it, and it could open up opportunities for you if you do things right.

3. DAMN. GOOD. STORY. This is the most important of my three suggestions, because in the end a good story can always win out. It's a skill to tell a good tale in 3-5 pages, and it's easily the best part of my job when I get a story that has me saying, "Damn I want more!" by the end of it.

To sum up: Always check the submission guidelines, pay attention to the monthly theme, be professional, and believe in your story!

SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?

AK: Bad grammar and punctuation. Especially if you send me an author by-line full of credits. It shows unprofessionalism and carelessness. If you're not quite comfortable with English grammar, I guarantee you probably know a friend or a relative who is. Have them go through it for you and help you improve it (I suggest this anyway, it's always good to have another pair of eyes on your work).

SQF: Which of the following statements is true and why? Plot is more important than character. Character is more important than plot. Plot and character are equally important. 

AK: Plot and Character are equally important: A one-line plot can sound awesome on paper. But if I don't care about the characters that this plot involves, I won't make it past the first chapter. I do lean (slightly) towards the "Great characters can carry not-so-great plot," but I do think you need a good mix of both.

SQF: What advice can you offer new authors hoping to publish their first submission in Uncharted Frontier?

AK: PLEASE read our submission guidelines. We don't ask for much, and we can tell right away when people don't. Don't end up "in the pile."

Also, read a few past issues to see the kind of things we've published. They're free after all, so you have nothing to lose, and it will only help your chances.

SQF: You look to publish pieces by the undiscovered. Do you work with the writers/artists if pieces aren’t quite ready?

AK: We'd like to think we could, but we're limited on time. In over a year of operation, everything that has been sent our way has been completed.

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

AK: What advice do you have for those who have never published a piece of art/writing/photography before and are considering your publication for submission?

Answer: DO IT! As long as you follow the guidelines for submissions, your piece will get a fair shot. And if we do reject your piece, we'll give you a reason why so you know for the future. Sometimes it's just not the right issue for the piece, and we'll tell you to resubmit.

You really have nothing to lose, and there's nothing like seeing a story you wrote, a picture you took, or a piece of art that you created online for all to see.

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

NEXT POST: 4/8--Six Questions for Arjun Choudhuri, General Editor, The Four Quarters Magazine

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