CanCon 2015, day 2: Getting noticed (in a good way) in the novel and short story slush pile

Yesterday ran away with me, so I’m a bit late.

Panellists: Mike Rimar (co-owner Bundoran Press), Gabrielle Harbowy (managing editor, Dragon Moon Press), and Elizabeth Hirst (editor, Pop Seagull)


MR: What do you want to see?

GH: Electronic submissions simplify the process. You want to submit your absolute best work. Follow the submission guidelines.

EH: When something works well in the submission, it stands out.

MR: When it comes to a query, I need to see three things: word count, genre, pitch.

EH: I like a little personality.

Q: Do you always reply?

GH: When submissions are open, yes. When they’re not, all bets are off.

MR: Usually, we reply within three months. If someone has taken the time to query, we will reply. Nothing’s worse than being left hanging.

GH: Wait 1.5 times what the submission guidelines say, just to give everyone a buffer. I will always respond when we have an open submission period.

MR: Asimov’s can be up to six months.

GH: Lightspeed will reject you before you can hit send. It might be a cliché, but eleven lines is all an editor needs to tell if the submission is for them.

EH: I think that’s true, but I keep readings until I know for sure whether it’s a pass or a request for full.

MR: For the Second Contact anthology, I gave people more of a chance to impress me. Two to three pages.

GH: If I’m suitably impressed, I might check out chapter two.

Q: Can you share some statistics?

EH: We had 70 submissions for the Robotica anthology. We took 18. I found more that I liked, but we couldn’t take them. Love, Time, Sex, Magic was different.

MR: It’s sad when you read a really good story that doesn’t fit.

Q: Will you respond with a ‘please send something else’?

MR: No. If I reject a story, I don’t want to invite further interaction.

GH: I’ll respond with a request for further material if I like what I’ve read.

MR: If we meet face to face, I’ll tell you directly.

Q: Do you respond if someone submits repeatedly?

MR: It hasn’t happened yet.

GH: It’s happened to me. They’re probably not paying attention. I keep a maybe file. It’s about 10% of submissions. 2% receive further consideration and 1% might get published.

MR: What are the technical no-no’s you watch out for?

GH: Not fitting with the publication, not following the submission guidelines. Stupid, nervous mistakes are forgivable.

MR: Keep your queries polite and to the point.

GH: In fiction, it has to be complete. Make sure you include your contact information.

MR: Are you as forgiving with paper submissions?

GH: It’s been ten years and I’ve never received one.

MR: Tricks just make me mad.

Q: Is theft a problem?

MR: Not at all.

GH: If I like it, I’ll buy it.

MR: People can have similar ideas. It’s not copyright infringement.

GH: I choose the one that executes the best.

More great advice from professional editors. I’ll be back on track next week, when we’ll be moving on to day three and speculating sex and sexuality.

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