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Bewildering Stories

Duotrope Interviews Bewildering Stories

Many new contributors have come to Bewildering Stories by way of the Duotrope website. It has innovated a new feature: an “interview” with the powers that be. Bewildering Stories has been happy to respond, and our Review Editors have provided helpful input.

Duotrope assures us that the editors’ interviews will remain accessible to the public after January 1, 2013. For the sake of convenience we’re reproducing the interview here. Some formatting and relevant links have been added and a few minor updates have been included.

Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less [including spaces].

Speculative; all genres

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

We appreciate other on-line publications’ providing an essential service. We consider them colleagues, not competitors. We may sometimes admire particular works if they have an unusually attractive format.

Who are your favorite writers?

Our Review Editors could name all the classic authors and many contemporary ones, but that would be pointless. The number of contributors to Bewildering Stories is fast approaching 1,500, and it would be unfair to choose between them.

However, one acknowledgment is in order: Bewildering Stories owes its continued existence to an annotated translation — the only one in modern English on the Net — of the original manuscript of Cyrano de Bergerac’s novel The Other World (1655). But we have plenty else besides.

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

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

Send it to us.
One title per e-mail, please; that’s how we keep track of things.

We prefer plain text. Word-processor attachments are perfectly okay. We don’t like PDF files, and WordPerfect can cause problems in rich text format. If we can’t open an attachment or we have problems with it, we’ll let you know, and we can talk about an alternative.

Read the header of our Submissions guidelines, the part above the page index. The rest of it is a reference work. If we need to refer to any part of the guidelines, we’ll include a link to the appropriate section in our correspondence.

Describe the ideal submission.

We have no preconceived notions; we like pleasant surprises.

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

We can’t consider certain things, particularly computer-generated texts, vignettes, micro-fiction and micro-poetry (e.g. haiku, senryu). Other websites accept or even specialize in those genres. If Bewildering Stories considered them, we’d be flooded with submissions; and we’d have to accept them all, because we don’t know how to choose between them.

The s- and f-words are proscribed as expletives. Fictional characters can cuss a blue streak, if they need to, but they can’t use those words. Honestly, you’d be amazed how many submissions have been improved by applying that rule.

How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you? Do you care about cover letters? If so, do lists of previous publication credits matter to you?

We consider cover messages a courtesy. We read them with interest but don’t require them. A personal bibliography can be of some interest; one never knows where it may lead. But again, it is not required.

How much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it? Do you read every piece to the end, or can you generally tell if the piece isn’t right for you within the first few paragraphs or pages?

We read all but novels all the way through. Our standard procedure: Each submission is read by two different review readers, who report on it to the Coordinating Editor. If the recommendation is unanimous and the Coordinating Editor concurs, he contacts the author directly. The Managing Editor casts the deciding vote in a split decision.

What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go though before it is accepted?

Our review readers normally don’t have time to read entire novels. The standard procedure is to read sections chosen at random to check for coherence.

If a submission is already accessible elsewhere on the Net, we will probably defer to prior publication. But we do occasionally make exceptions. If in doubt, please ask.

What is a day in the life of an editor like for you? Please give us a glimpse into your behind-the-scenes submission reading process.

At Bewildering Stories a week is a day and vice-versa. The Managing Editor has no secretary, alas. Mondays are usually devoted to answering e-mail; Tuesday through Thursday, to putting together the next week’s issue and, finally, sending the authors our customary preview notice; Friday through Sunday, to correcting errata, discussing Quarterly Review selections with the Review Board, and making up the Readers’ Guide and the Challenge questions. And answering e-mail all the while.

How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies? This could include electronic submissions, online social networking services, electronic or POD publishing options, etc. If you don’t think it’s important for publishers to embrace current technologies, why do you think it’s important for publishers to remain traditional?

Bewildering Stories considers only e-mailed submissions. It could not exist at all without “modern” technology, namely the Internet.

As for print on paper versus e-books, we take the long view. Every medium has its advantages and disadvantages. The epic of Gilgamesh would not have existed without clay bricks; nor many works of Antiquity without papyrus; nor literacy without the printing press. An implicit motto of literature is “Spread the word.” And, we would add, use the best means at hand. What is “best”? It’s every individual’s choice.

Copyright © December 8, 2012 by Don Webb
for Bewildering Stories

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