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Editor Interview: sub-Q Magazine

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

A: genre interactive fiction

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

A: Strange Horizons, hands-down. I've worked with a variety pro and semi-pro markets as both a writer and illustrator, and for promptness, clarity of communication, and quality of content, Strange Horizons is far and away the best. They're the horse to chase, as far as sub-Q is concerned. They're also the only other pro market that accepts interactive work! Currently I have the honor of being their art director, which has been an education and a treat.

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

A: Any writer who puts you at ease from the first paragraph--who sucks you in and makes you feel at home--that's who I want to read. Fiction, non-fiction, F/SF, horror, mystery--it doesn't matter what the genre is, so long as the author has that "come take a seat" power.

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

A: Well, we're the only paying market dedicated to interactive fiction.
And our magazine itself is interactive. Each story gets custom cover art for each story; promotion via Twitter, Facebook, and newsletter; plus an "applause" function for authors to choose how they'd like happy readers to engage.

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

A: Read the submissions guidelines. Interactive fiction is changing and growing, so our guidelines have to grow with it. Even if you've read them a month ago, give them a fresh look before you submit. It may help to check out our FAQ as well.
Keep your stories short, innovative, and high-impact.
Take a look at what we've published before. I know every market says that, but our stories are short, free, and mobile-friendly. You can read one anywhere.
Do be sure your submission is interactive! We're happy to pair authors with developers, but we can't accept prose without at least a detailed proposal for interactivity.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: Under 3500 words for a single playthrough. Under 5000 words total. Fantasy, science-fiction, horror, mystery, or romance. Aesthetic. Grabby from the first paragraph. Strong beginning, middle, and end, with memorable characters and a lingering aftertaste. Stories that get under your skin!

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

A: Ah, great question. We see subs that aren't interactive at all (not even a proposal.) Sometimes submitters forget to remove their name from the story (our submissions process is anonymous.) Interactivity that isn't really meaningful (just clicking to move the story forward.) Occasionally we see weak prose and typos--things that indicate a story wasn't put in front of another reader before submitting--but not too often.

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

A: Well, there's nothing we really need to know (aside from contact information!) No prior publishing credits is OK. No cover letter at all is OK! But the overall nature of the cover letter sort of communicates what a person will be like to work with through the editing process: details like formatting, spelling, completeness, gravitas. Again, our submissions process is anonymous, so our first readers and editors don't get to see the cover letters. However it lets me know, if a story is accepted, what I might expect from communication with the author.

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

A: Every story gets a thorough read by at least one of our first readers. For me personally, I can tell from the first paragraph if I want to read more. Fortunate for our submitters that I'm not acting as first reader anymore!

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

A: A first reader reads the entire piece and makes notes. If s/he doesn't have a strong response to the story either way, I send it to another first reader for a second opinion. Based on the first round of notes, I either decline the piece or send it along for the fiction editors to look at. If a fiction editor claims a story, it's accepted. If a month goes by without the story being claimed, it's declined.

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

A: Write some emails, some Tweets, some Facebook ads. Galley some stories. Check the submissions queue and see how things are going. Communicate with the fiction editors. Field any tech support issues with the website. Maybe write a column. Anything I can! sub-Q is a side project, after all :D

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

A: Heh, well, for IF, it's vital! The different tools for creating IF are expanding and evolving all the time. It's dead easy to get left in the dust. Don't get me wrong; there will always be passion for paper. But the interactive explosion is underway. The authors who jump in now will be well ahead of the curve!
Thank you, Duotrope, for offering these editor interviews. I hope this helps submitters know what we're about!