Editor Interview: Vulture Bones

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

A: Trans spec fic

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

A: So many! The very first publication that got me into short fiction was Strange Horizons, and they still publish oodles of great stuff. Scigentasy put out a lot of quality stuff, but is sadly defunct. Beneath Ceaseless Skies is wonderful. Fiyah is doing fabulous things.

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

A: For me, personally, some of the writers I admire who are currently writing are Rose Lemberg, Charlie Jane Anders, Rebecca Roanhorse, Bejanun Sriduangkaew, Roanna Sylver, and Shveta Thakrar.

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

A: Vulture Bones is a magazine which showcases the voices and work of transgender and/or non-binary creators--that is, anyone who is not cisgender. There has been a ton of interest in the last few years in our community. Bogi Takacs has been editing--and winning awards--for the Transcendant anthology series, for example. Capricious put out the gender diverse pronoun issue. But there is still not, as far as I am aware, another magazine that is specifically for and by trans/enby creators in the spec fic world.

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

A: First of all, remember this is a market which specifically showcases the work of transgender and non-binary creators. If you are cisgender, please submit elsewhere.
Second, if you are trans/enby, please submit! Don't self-reject! We want your stuff! If it's yours, and it has speculative elements, it is a great fit for Vulture Bones. We're open to virtually anything--short fiction, flash fiction, hypertext, poetry, comics, art, drama, the list goes on. If it's not named there, but it can be stuck up on a website, I'd really love to see it.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: It's speculative, and it's unexpected, and it makes me feel a feeling. I like to get things that are surprising, things that are different than what I would have written or what I usually read. I like the use of speculative elements that are deeply tied to the structure of the work--where the work would be utterly different if they weren't speculative.

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

A: They attach the piece instead of embedding the piece in the body of the email, which gets it caught in the spam filter.

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

A: I only care about two things in cover letters: pronouns (so I can address people submitting correctly) and content warnings for the piece (so that I can warn readers of the magazine where needed). Publication credits don't matter to me.

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

A: It really depends on the piece! There are some pieces where I can tell within a paragraph or two that a specific piece isn't right--maybe it isn't speculative at all--but I encourage the person to submit again because they are a strong writer. There are other times when I've held a piece because I really couldn't tell, and it depended on the other pieces I've accepted. It was that close! I've had that happen to my own writing, too--had it held and not heard, and not heard, and almost made it, and then right at the end gotten a very nice rejection. So, because of that, I always read everything to the end no matter what my gut says at the beginning.

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

A: Right now, since we're still a fledgling magazine, I am the process. Everything gets read once, I mark it as in consideration, a possible acceptance, or a possible rejection. Then I read all of those categories again to see if they still fit. There are certain things that will get a piece immediately rejected--for instance, if the submitted is cisgender, or if the piece contains no speculative elements. But that rarely happens.

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

A: During the reading period, it's a lot of reading and categorizing. There's a lot of emailing back and forth. Contracting people, looking for a cover artist. I make a ton of spreadsheets. Then it moves into locking down the pieces, organizing the pieces, editing the pieces. More contracts. Working out the payments. Website updates. Marketing and communications. It is a beast.

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

A: I think it's key to embrace modern tech. I actually do probably 75% of the editing and submissions work for Vulture Bones on the go, on my phone, in scraps of time between having a full time job and parenting. It got up and off the ground purely through twitter, for example.

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

A: I do line editing and copy editing on every piece. I don't usually do substantive editing; the pieces I accept often don't need it. The author does get to approve the final edits. I wouldn't want to make a change that alters the author's intentions.

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

A: I haven't hit that point yet in Vulture Bones' life cycle, but I am definitely going to! I am so looking forward to it!