An Inside Look at Dead West Part 2:The Slush Pile

Posted: January 15, 2010 in Uncategorized
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Last time I talked about the origins of Dead West, put up some of the timelines we have for it, and got the ball rolling for this series of blog posts. For this segment, I’m going to talk about my slush pile, what I do when going through it, and some of things I’ve found that are worth mentioning. PLEASE NOTE : to any of the contributors who read this and think I may be referring to their submission, most likely I’m not. I plan on keeping this as generalized as possible so as not to have anyone feel I’m speaking about them.

Okay, with that out of the way, we’ve received far more submissions than I know what to do with.  I could probably make two or three anthologies from what I’ve received so far (and may depending on how well Dead West does), so it makes having to choose very difficult. Since I opened the submission period, I read a handful of stories every day. I have the time to read more, but I think reading more than five or six diminishes my faculties. I’m not as fresh as when I first start reading and may not give a story a fair chance if I’m too tired. I learned this after trying to read too many stories one night, as a result I had to put them back into the pool of stories.

At this point, I separate the stories into one of two folders, stories I’m definitely interested in, and stories that have possibilities. On the stories with possibilities, I’ve made notes detailing my initial impressions, and rate it on a 1-10 score. Once the submission period closes, I’ll go through the possibilities folder and reread my notes and skim through the stories once more. I’ll add to the definitely interested folder until I’ve gone through all the subs.

The Definite Possibilities will be my short list and from that will come the final 13. I’ve already read a couple of stories I’ve asked writers to make some changes on; that doesn’t guarantee their story a place, but I’d like to see at least what can be done.

Now, some of things I’ve noticed don’t automatically disqualify get your story sent to the trash bin, but it does make choosing which stories go in, a bit easier.For example, single spacing your submission is not only a bad idea (aside from the fact it should never be used when sending a sub), but it makes me cranky. Rich will tell you, I’m cranky enough. Please, be kind on my eyes and the eyes of future editors and double space your work. Related to that, are odd sized fonts. Do you really have to put the story title and your name in bolded 18 point Hellvetica?) And yes my misspelling of Helvetica was intentional.) The answer is a resounding no. What you should put in is contact information,  and send it from an email address that won’t bounce my emails back. It makes communication much easier.   And finally, unless the weather or sky has something important to do with the story, a meteorological dissertation is best served in a brief sentence, not a paragraph.

Again, I say these things not to mock or be snarky, but only to point out some things I’ve noticed.  They aren’t deal breakers at all, but things to keep in mind for future submissions.

Part 3 will be up after the submissions close on the 31st. At that point I’ll talk a bit more about how I rate the stories.


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