Editor Interview: Escape Pod

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

A: SF of the fun variety

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

A: Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Hub Magazine

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

A: Neil Gaiman, Connie Willis, John Scalzi, Paolo Bacigalupi, Chine Mieville, Pat Cadigan, James Patrick Kelly, Kelly Link, John Kessel, Eugie Foster

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

A: We were the first podcast SF magazine, and we maintain our dedication to fun. We may publish the occasional serious tale, but the depressing world of dystopian child slavers is not what we want, no matter how literary. Humor is a plus, light-hearted and thought provoking is always good.

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

A: Audio markets are faster-paced than print. Beautiful settings and expositions can cause the listener to glaze over and tune out. To make sure your story is good for audio, make sure you have a good hook and convincing dialog. Not saying we want all action and no character, just make sure your tale moves along.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: Our listeners have grown to prefer stories that, while making you laugh, also make you think. If you promise something in your text, then make sure you deliver. Our sweet spot is around 4000 words, although we've had great stories come in above and below that. If you can make me laugh out loud, then you have an excellent chance.

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

A: Many think we do fully produced audio dramas and want to send us scripts. Many send horror or fantasy, while we are solely an SF market.

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

A: Not as much as they might to other editors. A wonderful story may work well in print and be a cover story for Asimov's, but it may be too expository and slow for Escape Pod.

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

A: We can tell in the first few paragraphs. We need a hook and a writing style that works. We can't "wait till it gets good" especially in audio.

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

A: We consider if the story is like previous purchases, story quality, and whether the tone fits the "fun" goal of Escape Pod. It usually goes through a slush reader before I read it.

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

A: I check the email from my slush readers, accept or reject the stories, send out letters, consider narrators, consider schedule, get stories to narrators and hosts, and update the shared calendar. If I have spare time, I'll look through some anthologies to see if I find appropriate stories to solicit the audio rights.

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

A: For my line of work? Vital. We're a podcast market, so we have to embrace RSS, audio technology, and the latest internet and blog technologies. For other editors, I've always felt it oddly contradictory to have a publication dedicated to science fiction that won't embrace the science of today.