Editor Interview: The Grievous Angel
Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.
A: Eerie & WTF! reading
Q: What other current publications (or publishers) do you admire most?
A: The one magazine I continue to read from digital cover-to-cover is the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction - rarely a dud story and I also enjoy their non-fiction and cartoons. Another attraction is the varying story-lengths from novella to short story.
Q: If you publish writing, who are your favorite writers? If you publish art, who are your favorite artists?
A: We publish flash fiction and poetry and we have a huge number of authors, I like to publish as many as possible and find new writers so it's not just the usual suspects - so... no favourites, they are all my favourites.
Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?
A: I'd like to think it was our content curation, we aim to entertain with science fiction and fantasy poetry and flash fiction that is informed by urban fantasy, folklore, pop culture, implausible reality, geek stuff, WTF, and the just plain weird.
Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?
A: Read some of the stuff we publish to gain a flavour for our content. We are looking for quirky, we are looking for humour. Oh yes, and please, please note we do specify "Flash Fiction to 700 words in length" so why do people keep sending us 5000 word short stories?
Q: Describe the ideal submission.
A: One that meets our submission criteria and does not leave me thinking, after two sentences, I know what the punchline of this story is going to be. ALSO this flash fiction so get on with the story, the readers do not want a third of the story with Mummy and Timmy discussing what they had for breakfast. I love dialogue but only where the dialogue drives the story and doesn't get in the way of the plot.
Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?
A: Oops, already answered this - not reading the guidelines properly and sending content that is too long. As to pet hates... stories (doesn't tend to be such an issue with poetry) where the writer clearly hasn't bothered to do a final proofread before pressing the send button. Just sloppy and creates a bad impression. I'm also spooked by contributors who say things like "I've had 412 of my poems published to date" - that's the language of an accountant, not a poet.
Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?
A: Being online submission only we don't get cover letters however I am conscious of the irony of someone sending me a 17 syllable haiku accompanied by a 500 word bio. Their previous publication credits don't actually matter - if you send me a mediocre story, I don't care if you were once published in a major zine because you are still not going to get published in the Grievous Angel. I'm also not interested if you are happily married and have two lovely children. What I do like to see are references to the day-job as most writers spend 9-till-5 doing one thing and writing in their remaining free time. And I LOVE to know about social media links, especially Twitter, and website links etc as the more our contributors can help spread the word, the better it is for us.
Q: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?
A: The beauty of flash fiction is it is not an onerous task to read the whole thing from start-to-finish. Ditto poetry. That said if a story is particular heavy going I might not read every word.
Q: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?
A: Essentially, if I like a story or poem, it is in. However sometimes there are submissions that sit on the cusp so I put these aside and re-read them again a week later. Very very occasionally I will receive a story that is almost there but for perhaps a few clunky lines (usually at the very end) - and in these cases I will contact the author and suggest an amendment or clarification.
Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?
A: I have a relatively easy workload with the Grievous Angel so my day-in-the-life is probably not typical. Assuming no catastrophes (exploding computers, dying broadband etc, aged parents etc etc) I start the day very slowly - I'm not a morning person - catching up on emails and online news both for the day-job (I also run a tech industry newsletter/website) and for the Angel. I'm also always on the lookout for stories for my UrbanFantasist.com zine (Grievous Angel is a section of UF) and to feed my social media channels. I typically spend one day a week reading and replying to GA submissions – I've currently got the submissions response time down to 7 to 10 days. And then once a week I will post up a new entry on the Angel. The rest of my time I spend on my own writing - currently a novel and a non-fiction book on folklore and history.
Q: How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?
A: We have always been digital - email only submissions + online publication only + marketing via social media. However we (and an earlier poetry site I created a few years ago - Ink Sweat & Tears) are creatures of the digital age and so do not have the legacy of a traditional print + subscription/newsstand sales to deal with. That said, it is vital to monitor trends to ensure you don't get left behind by technology even if you are all digital. For example we migrated to our current Weebly platform to ensure we had a responsive website that could cope with people viewing content on iPads and smartphones. We also investigated an app option but came to the conclusion that would only serve to monetarise our app-developers.
Q: How much do you edit an accepted piece prior to publication?
A: Because we only publish flash fiction and relatively short poetry, we do no editing but publish as is - save for the obvious corrections of typos. As previously mentioned, if we do have a more substantive issue, we will liaise with the author. And, because we only publish online we are also happy (well, not exactly happy but we're fine with it) to make post-plication amendments at an author's request.
Q: Do you nominate work you've published for any national or international awards?
A: We don't as yet because we don't really tick the right boxes for awards criteria however many of our poets have nominated their work for the SFPA Rhysling Awards. As with many things, life gets in the way of art and a focus on awards is on our agenda starting Q4 2017