Editor Interview: Abyss & Apex

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

A: Humans react 2 tech/magic

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

A: Asimov's, Analog, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Baen

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

A: Lois McMaster Bujold, C.J. Cherryh, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Stross, Anne Perry, Tom Clancy, Anne McCaffrey, David Weber, Issac Asimov, Ilona Andrews, Madeline L'Engle, John Grisham, Poul Anderson, Ben Bova, Peter R. Brent, Brad Torgersen, Victoria Holt, Vernor Vinge

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

A: We are very friendly to new writers. Twenty-five percent of our stories are first-time publications for our authors. We published early N.K. Jemisin, Lavie Tidhar. Aliette de Bodard, Karl Bunker, Rae Carson, Will McIntosh, Alan Smale, Lisa Mantchev, Lawrence Schoen, J. Kathleen Cheney and Mercurio D. Rivera.
We're talent scouts here at Abyss & Apex, and a publication in our pages is a cover letter credit major markets respect.

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

A: Read. The. Guidelines. Join a critique group. We especially like the Online Writing Workshop for Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror. Face to face crit groups are valuable, too.
Finish what you started, submit it, and write the next thing.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: Your first paragraph should do several things:
1. Hook the reader: create a question on their mind that they need to keep reading to answer. (Or hook me with beautiful language.)
2. Identify somehow if it's going to be science fiction or fantasy.
3. Let me know the general age/gender/species of the protagonist. Don't let readers build up a false image of who your main character is; when you clarify it too late you will throw them out of the story.
Get the science or the folklore right. Sloppy research will also throw those in the know out of your story.
Something has to happen to the protagonist. Something has to CHANGE. It can be an internal plot arc or an external one, or both. No slice-of-life stories please.
I'm fond of circularity. I hate white room dialog and a lack of scene blocking and telling details
Oh, and it's formatted in Standard Manuscript format. And you don't tell me what it's about in the cover letter.
A personal pet peeve: I prefer ONE space after the end of a sentence so strongly that I need to search and replace before reading a story.

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

A: The most common errors are submitting outside of a reading period, or sending us derivative works (loosely based on current events or popular movies, games, or TV shows.)

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

A: No publication credits is fine, but if you have them try to pick the best/most relevant three or four. Go ahead and mention if you've won any awards or are a Clarion graduate, or if you are a member of SFWA.
But bear in mind that I look at your cover letter AFTER reading your story. Your story stands or falls on its own merits.

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

A: I can generally tell if I should continue reading in about 3-5 paragraphs. Those stories that make it past that point will get read to the end, but if I start skimming or get thrown out of the story I will let you know in the rejection when and why you lost me.

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

A: We have consultants: scientists who fact check the hard science fiction, and folklore experts who will look at fantasies.

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

A: First readers look at raw slush and pass only some of it up to me. Those that get passed up are called "2nd Opinions." I often blind-copy first readers on my feedback to the writers in rejections. Senior staff does video chats and screen shares of 2nd Opinion stories, or phone calls and chats - and make decisions together.
We are one of the few markets who will occasionally do extensive rewrites with authors.

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

A: We've always been an online magazine so I sort of missed the old fashioned way of doing things. As print becomes more expensive due to materials and shipping costs, online and digital publishing will become more and more important.
But print books will always be with us.