Friday, July 26, 2013

Six Questions for Lynne M. Thomas, Editor-in-Chief, and Michael Damian Thomas, Managing Editor, Apex Magazine

Apex Magazine publishes fiction to 5000 words, poetry and nonfiction in the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres. Read the complete guidelines here.

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

Apex Magazine: We are looking for sparkling prose, interesting ideas, and heartrending emotion, preferably simultaneously. We want stories that make us, and our readers, feel. 

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

AM: Bad prose, generic ideas, an inability to create genuine emotion in the reader. Blatant manipulation, gratuitous violence or sex that does't make sense within the confines of the story and its thematic thrust, and sloppy writing tend to turn us off. 

SQF: Will you publish a submission an author posted on a personal blog? 

AM: No. Our guidelines clearly state that we don't accept previously published fiction, and any reprints we may solicit cannot have been freely available on the web.

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?

AM: In general, we discourage authors from soliciting comments about rejections. We encourage writers submitting to Apex to make use of writers' workshops (often, convention-based workshops are very inexpensive), and writer groups or meetups to get feedback on their stories.

It really is a problem of sheer volume. We have hundreds of stories that come through our system, and we just don't have the time to provide individual critiques. 

The one exception is that if writers receive personalized rejections from the Editor-in-Chief, they may request clarification on the points raised in the personalized letter. But if you see "does not meet our needs at this time," that's really what it means. Send us a different story instead! 

There are lots of reasons why stories get rejected that may have nothing to do with the basic quality of the story. We reject a lot of stories that have absolutely nothing wrong with them, but just aren't to our taste. We may already have another story with similar themes or tropes in inventory. We may not be looking for that type of story because we just ran one in the previous months. 

SQF: What is the best part of being an editor?

AM: Finding amazing stories and sharing them with the world. We love that moment when we finish reading a submission and our reaction is "WOW." Those are the stories we buy.

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

AM: Q. What do you prefer to see in cover letters?

A. Keep it simple. Let the story speak for itself. Don't tell us what it's about!

Dear [look up the name of the CURRENT Editor-in-Chief of the market in question and spell it correctly]

Attached please find my story, "title" [x] words long. I have been previously published in [list pertinent credits if any] and [awards information if any]. 

 I hope that you enjoy it. 


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

NEXT POST: 7/30--Six Questions for Jason Cook, Founding Editor, Fiddleblack

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