Friday, July 29, 2011

Six Questions for Matt Shoard, Founder, Fleeting Books

Fleeting Books is an editing house and literary consultancy. They also publish short stories and interviews online. Learn more here.

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

MS: Writing that feels fast and slow at the same time and looks at the world like an educated baby. It's hard to pull off, but it's true of everything good you've ever read.

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

MS: It sounds like something I could have read millions of times, it sounds like 'writing' rather than writing, or it features people who chuckle - each of these makes the reader feel like they're dying rather than coming to life.

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

MS: Adverbs, cliches, caricatures, patronising action, sexism in any direction, vagueness, quirky bios, blanket-bomb approaches to getting published. Writers who haven't read anything on Fleeting, or if they have, have missed the good bits.

SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?

MS: It's frustrating for both parties, but commenting decently on every submission would take weeks. It's one reason I started The Clinic, which is kind of an antidote to that frustration and a way for writers to reach someone who knows what they need to do.

SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?

MS: To stand out. Editors are looking for reasons to reject you, and they've normally found one by the first or second line. Your writing must burn from the first words.

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

MS: "Where is the best short fiction online?" Try nthposition, Guernica, Pulp, Granta, Eclectica, Frigg, Fringe...

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

NEXT POST: 8/1--Six Questions for John C. Mannone, Poetry Editor, Silver Blade


  1. Hello,

    I am writing on behalf of Fleeting to let you know that we recently relaunched as Fleeting Books, a London-based literary consultancy which offers a range of editorial services. I was thrilled to come across this interview, which is such a boost to our profile, even now.

    I was wondering, so as to make sure that budding writers know how to find us, if you would be happy to amend the article to say Fleeting Books instead of Fleeting Magazine? Although the interview was done some time ago, any references online to the magazine are likely to cause confusion, so I am trying to correct this where possible. We continue to publish short fiction and interviews on our website, and have new projects in the pipeline, so do watch this space...

    Many thanks in advance for your help, and I look forward to hearing from you.

    Charlotte Seymour
    Editorial Assistant | @ThisIsFleeting

  2. The requested changes have been made. Thanks for letting me know about the relaunch.

    1. Dear Jim,
      Thank you so much for your swift response! Is it possible also to change the title of the article, which still says magazine?

      Many thanks,