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Editor Interview: Guilty Crime Story Magazine

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

A: The essence of noir.

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

A: TOUGH, Pulp Modern, Rock and a Hard Place, Mystery Magazine

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

A: Favorite writers include Gil Brewer, Day Keene, John D. MacDonald, Charles Williams, Donald Westlake under his Richard Stark pen-name, Max Allan Collins. If your writing is influenced by these writers or similar, we'd be interested in reading it.

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

A: We try to find a balance for each issue between both lengths and styles of writing. There is a lot that can be done under the umbrella of "hardboiled" or "noir", and many people fall for the mistaken belief that it can only be done one way. In each issue, we try to bring together a mix of stories from different authors of different styles showcasing both their differences and their similarities.

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

A: Please, please, please read both the full guidelines and the back issues. We get so many submissions that don't remotely match the aesthetic of the magazine and submitting works like that will only end in frustration for both editor and submitter. Many of these people clearly haven't read the full guidelines or any issues of the magazine and it's disheartening to have to send a rejection of a decent story that just doesn't at all fit.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: An original idea that gets to the core of the story as quickly as possible without sacrificing characterization or plot structure, formatted in Shunn's, and competently edited for grammar, punctuation, typos, etc.

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

A: Ignoring the guidelines and not including what we ask for in their submission. Formatting, for example, is extremely important in our reading process because of the tools we use to read and edit. If a submission comes through as just a huge block of text, it won't be read and will be rejected out of hand. The other big thing is submitting works in styles or subject matter that we will not consider. "Cozy" mysteries and police procedurals are styles we see a lot of that are called out in the guidelines as something we don't want. Extreme violence for the sake of violence and hate-speech are another thing we've called out as not wanting that we unfortunately see too often.

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

A: We ask for the basics: story title and word-count, your contact information, and a short (under 75 word) bio. We don't care about anything else. Whether it's your first story or your thousandth, the story itself is all that counts. Sometimes, people list tons of previous publications, awards, etc, and it's utterly irrelevant. It won't sway us one way or another. We just don't care about anything but the quality of the story.

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

A: It varies wildly. Sometimes, unfortunately, I can tell from the first page that something is not going to work. Other times, I read right to the end of a work before deciding it isn't for us. If a story catches my attention immediately, I'll read until it loses my interest. If I can get all the way through it and I'm still interested in it, I'll put it aside and read it again in a couple of days. Very rarely, a story thrills me so much I accept it immediately, but because we have limited space in each issue, that doesn't happen often.

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

A: If I like a story enough to consider this far, my next question is: what needs to be done to make it a Guilty story? That may mean light editing for formatting and/or style or it may mean requesting rewrites from the author. The question then becomes whether or not the slot I'm considering the story for is best filled by that story, once editing has taken place, or if something else I'm considering would be the best fit.

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

A: I check the Guilty email first thing in the morning. If there are submissions, I'll give them a once over to see if they meet all the guidelines. If they don't, they're rejected and if they do, they go into the slush pile. They may be read immediately or later that day or a few days on, depending on what else needs to be done. Writing and editing are my full-time employment, so sometimes I have full days to devote to Guilty and sometimes, I have my own personal work that needs to be done. Either way, I try to respond to all submissions as soon as possible, to keep people from having to wait too long.

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

A: I don't think it's possible not to embrace them at this point. Electronic submissions are easier all around and social networking is the sole source for discovering new books and magazines for many people.
Surprisingly, we sell more print copies than ebooks, but without POD services, getting books printed and shipped would be a full-time job in and of itself. As things are, it's sort of a set and forget thing, knowing that people can order copies from Amazon and there's nothing we need to do directly. As for ebooks, they're somewhat behind print books in actual sales, but they do make up about 40% of total copies sold. Without them, Guilty would reach far fewer readers. The same is true of Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program: each month, we receive anywhere from several hundred to several thousand page-reads from KU. Those are more people reading our authors' work who probably wouldn't otherwise.

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

A: Again, it varies wildly. Every work goes through some editing, and it may be very mild, to correct errors and align the work with the magazine's style or it may be major, including expanding or cutting the length to improve the story. That's a big decision on my part for which I have to consider both the work and the writer's wishes. Some people don't want to be edited and I understand that, so if I'm considering a major edit I reach out to the writer and explain that I'd like to accept the work if such and such is done and often, here are my suggested edits. So far, I've received nothing but gratitude from writers who recognize I'm trying help their work shine as much as it possibly can and that's very gratifying to me personally, that they recognize the value I'm trying to add.

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

A: As a member of the Short Mystery Fiction Society, I plan to make Derringer Award nominations when the window next opens.