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Editor Interview: Fiction on the Web

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

A: Strong plots & characters

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

A: East of the Web has so many great stories on it, classics as well as new. Literally Stories is admirably consistent, and every story gets comments which is fantastic. TQR Stories has a wonderfully creative editorial process where you get a glimpse under the hood.

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

A: The authors I've read the most are science fiction writers: Harry Harrison, Robert Heinlein, Douglas Adams, Stanislaw Lem.
I've also enjoyed many books by Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Stephen King, Iain Banks.
Some of the best short stories are "children's" stories, such as those by Roald Dahl, Dr Seuss, Shel Silverstein, Julia Donaldson.
And choosing a favourite overall short story writer is impossible, but here are some that mean a lot to me: Fernando Sorrentino, Kurt Vonnegut, Ted Chiang, Mark Twain.

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

A: Fiction on the Web is the longest-running short stories website on the Internet, having been publishing continuously since July 1996. But the thing I'm proudest of is that every single story published gets comments from readers. I'm so grateful to my community of readers and commenters for keeping the website alive.

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

A: Read the Submissions page first.
Don't be hasty by submitting as soon as you've finished the first draft. Submit the final, polished version of your story.
"Be warned", he said. "frequent grammatical errors is a sure way to annoy me" - AAAGH!

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: Adventurous, yet accessible. I love confident stories that do something unexpected, while still drawing the reader in (rather than alienating). Strong plots, strong characters and an evocative atmosphere are all hallmarks of the kind of short story I enjoy - but quirkiness is often what really hooks me.
My ideal submission is a .doc file attached to an email, with the body of the email telling me the story title, story genre(s) and author's name.
You might also mention if you are simultaneously submitting the piece elsewhere, and/or if the piece has previously been published.

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

A: Please include the genre(s) of your story! If you're not sure, guess. I'll sometimes publish it under a different genre, but it helps me if you give me an indication.

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

A: I only need to know the author's name. The story will speak for itself.

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

A: I try to read every piece I receive right to the end. Having said that, I've often decided whether I'll accept or reject a piece after the first couple of pages.

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

A: None.

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

A: Fiction on the Web has a staff of one: Me. I usually get at least a dozen submissions a week (sometimes lots more). I squeeze in reading time whenever I can - during a lunch break at work, or while waiting for my daughter's dance class to finish, or in the evening at home. I try to get back to authors within a month, and usually much faster, but sometimes life gets in the way and my reading pile overwhelms me. (A typical week of submissions is about 60,000 words!) If I like a story enough to publish it, I'll copy edit it, format it for the web, and schedule it for publication. I also schedule social media and email about the story.

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

A: I always proofread, occasionally copy edit, and rarely do more substantive editing.

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

A: Yes, I nominate pieces for the Pushcart Prize, and I'm open to other suggestions.