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Editor Interview: Empyreome

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

A: Great Speculative Fiction

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

A: Clarkesworld Magazine
Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show
Apex Magazine
PodCastle
Daily Science Fiction
Flash Fiction Online

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

A: Douglas Adams, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Octavia Butler, Orson Scott Card, Philip K. Dick, Neil Gaiman, William Gibson, Madeleine L’Engle, Stephen King, C.S. Lewis, H.P. Lovecraft, George MacDonald, Edgar Allan Poe, Philip Pullman, J.R.R. Tolkien.

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

A: Many short fiction markets have become highly political and sometimes downright preachy. They certainly have the freedom to do that, but at Empyreome, we strive to stay out of politics and to never preach. We have a simple, twofold goal: 1) to publish fascinating stories that will encourage, enlighten, entertain, and inspire; and 2) to be a publication where authors will be proud to have their work published.

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

A: First, read the stories we've already published to get an idea of the types of stories we're looking for. Then, read our fiction guidelines (http://empyreome.com/submissions.aspx) and our tips for authors (http://empyreome.com/tips.aspx).

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: Besides meeting the basic criteria described in our guidelines (http://empyreome.com/submissions.aspx), the ideal submission will demonstrate the following:
• A clear, speculative element
• Well-written prose (including spelling, grammar, and formatting)
• A strong opening scene that effectively pulls the reader forward and ideally introduces the main character and conflict
• An active main/POV character whose actions affect the outcome of the story
• Well-drawn characters
• A compelling, logical plot
• An ending that resolves all/most conflicts and leaves the reader satisfied

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

A: The most common error we see in submissions in an inactive protagonist whose actions (if there are any) have little or no impact on the outcome of the story. We also commonly see stories with no discernible plot, poorly drawn characters, implausible premises, incorrect spelling and grammar, and improper formatting.

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

A: I do appreciate cover letters; however, they have no impact on the reading/review/selection process, since we perform the entire process "blind."

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

A: This depends in part on the length of the story. For flash stories, I generally read the entire story before making a determination. For longer stories, if they do not hook me within the first page or two, I will probably not read further. Also, if a story is poorly formatted (font, font size, spacing, etc.) or is riddled with spelling or grammatical errors, I will probably stop after a page or so, unless the story is very compelling. If the opening hook pulls me in, I'll keep reading until the end or until I reach a point that I know the story is not a good fit for Empyreome.

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

A: Each story is read by 3 to 6 "slush" readers before it reaches my desk. Each reader fills out a brief survey in which she/he rates various aspects of the story. These ratings and surveys play an important part in the final determination; however, I make all final decisions regarding accepting/rejecting a story.

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

A: As submissions come in, they are logged into our computerized submissions management system and assigned to at least four "slush" readers, who fill out surveys for each submission. When the slush readers complete their assignments, the submissions move into my queue for review. I review the slush surveys, read the stories, and decide whether to decline a story at that time or hold it for further consideration. I then notify the author's regarding the status of their submission. I usually make a final decision on a "held" story within 30 days, but it can sometimes take longer.

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

A: I think this is something left to the discretion of the publisher and is largely determined by the market the publisher is trying to reach. However, personally, I find the use of technology empowering for a small, short fiction publisher on a shoestring budget.

Q: How much do you edit an accepted piece prior to publication?

A: Since we strive to accept work that is "publication-ready," we try to take as light a touch as possible when editing. However, as a token paying market, we find that some otherwise brilliant submissions are marred by issues easily correctable by a moderate edit. In those cases, we might accept a piece with the author's understanding that we will do some light-to-moderate editing to get the piece "publication-ready." We copy-edit and proofread all manuscripts before publication. Authors always have the opportunity to review and approve all edits to their work prior to publication.

Q: Do you nominate work you've published for any national or international awards?

A: This is something we might consider in the future, but at this time, we do not.