Editor Interview: Pseudopod

Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.

A: Horror fiction in audio

Q: What other current publications (or publishers) do you admire most?

A: Cast Macabre, Black Static

Q: If you publish writing, who are your favorite writers? If you publish art, who are your favorite artists?

A: Edgar Allan Poe, Ramsey Campbell, Richard Matheson, Robert Aickman, many, many others.

Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?

A: We do audio readings with some sound production - this highlights the storytelling quality that is so important to some strains of horror and supernatural fiction. We do minimal sound production (we are not an audio drama podcast - we produce dramatic readings, not full cast performances) and prize readers who understand that the reading is a performance.

Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?

A: Listen to some episodes, read the guidelines, read comments in our forums, consider if it's likely that your story idea may have already been done, consider the fact that we are an *audio* publication when picking material to send us, so try to go with well-plotted stories and not slow-moving character examinations (although we like those to, except for the slow-moving part)

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: 3,000 to 5,000 words, first person, engaging, inventive or (alternatively) atmospheric, good sense of pacing with attention to character and/or payoff, all while being terse or at least considered in its word count. Horror of any kind, obviously.

Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?

A: Giving a plot summary in the cover letter (sometimes, all you have going for you is surprise), too long, too glib, too arch or ironic. Familiar or un-inventive in plot/conception or, if knowingly familiar in plot, not enough effort put into those qualities that will make the story stand out from its predecessors (pacing, atmosphere, mood, character).

Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?

A: Brief lists, but don't work too hard at it - I'm reading this story, not your resume.

Q: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?

A: Generally, every piece can be read to the end by me or my slushers, but this is not guaranteed - sloppy initial presentation (multiple grammar/spelling mistakes early on) can make any reader feel as if the author doesn't care - and then why should the reader?

Q: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?

A: Stories are accepted or rejected by slushers - stories accepted by slushers are passed through to the editor for a read and accepted or rejected. Occasionally, an unrelated beta reader may be brought in for an unbiased second take that the editor is on the fence about. Rarely do we ask for re-writes or resubmissions (and we do not take resubmissions - only resubmit if requested to).

Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?

A: I print out all stories that make the first pass, as I cannot read off a screen. I print them out at the beginning of the month and usually hope to have them processed within a week - two weeks tops. I read from shortest to longest length (not word count but page count as printed - so shorter stories in larger font, and thus higher page count, may get read after longer stories in smaller font (don't use this as an indication to shrink your font size in order to get your submission read faster - please have pity on an aging editor). Rejected stories are usually contacted first, then considerations about possible acceptances are made.

Q: How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?

A: I think we embrace technology enough - podcasting audio files of readings - without a subsequent drop in quality of our output (it takes a lot of work to produce weekly readings). For fiction publishing, technology can be deceptive, especially if an editor is not dedicated to quality, as the ease of reproduction and a set deadline can force compromises that seem like expediency.