Friday, June 4, 2010

Apex Magazine

  • Zine: Apex Magazine
  • Editor(s): Catherynne M. Valente
  • Pay rate: 5 ¢ / word
  • Response Time: 4-6 weeks
  • Description: We want science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mash-ups of all three—the dark, weird stuff down at the bottom of your little literary heart. (More in guidelines.)
  • Submission Guidelines:
NOTE: Horror author D.L. Snell conducted the following interview to give writers a better idea of what the editors of this specific market are seeking; however, most editors are open to ideas outside of the preferences discussed here, as long as they fit the basic submission guidelines.


1) What authors do you enjoy, and why does their writing captivate you?
I love anyone who can captivate me with language and honesty--in that I'm not too different than any other editor, I suppose. Theodora Goss, Jeff Vandermeer, Kelly Link, Gemma Files, Christopher Barzak--all of these writers are doing great work right now. But I hate listing favorite writers. Even the best writer varies from story to story, book to book. All I really want is for a story or a novel to arrest me for one moment, make me forget everything else, and anchor me in the tale.

2) What are your favorite genres? Which of these genres would you like to see incorporated into submissions to this market?
Obviously, I'm partial to fantasy, but my first love was horror. As a child I read countless horror novels and their sensibilities seriously informed my work and my reading habits. And I deeply want to see SF innovate and evolve and experiment as fantasy has in the last several years. I even like a good deal of realist work, though my heart will always be with the fantastic. I'd like to see any fantastic stories submitted to Apex--so long as they have a dark edge and a uniqueness to them. The key isn't genre, it's quality, it's what a story can do to the reader, not the category the reader can put a story in.

3) What settings most intrigue you? Ordinary or exotic locales? Real or fantasy? Past, present, or future?
I'm intrigued by all of those, to be honest. There's no such thing as ordinary in the hands of a capable writer. I want to see all of these locales cross my desk, because a genre cannot be healthy without including all of them.

4) Explain the type of pacing you enjoy, e.g. slow building to fast, fast throughout, etc.
I enjoy interesting, non-standard structures that break up narrative and put it back together in new ways. But not every story can be like that--in general I enjoy a consistent pace. In short fiction there is a lot of focus on twist endings and building up toward an end, but that can lead to a rushed feeling, and I'd rather have a story that is good and absorbing all the way through than one that is only interesting on the last page.

5) What is your policy for vulgarity, violence, and sexual content?
Bring it on.

6) In general, do you prefer downbeat or upbeat endings?
I suppose I have a bit of a preference for downbeat endings, because upbeat endings are more difficult--to make them authentic and earned. So I see fewer quality optimistic endings. But if they are high quality I love them just as much. It's the artificial "twist" endings I really can't stand. They are usually telegraphed and uncreative. Endings can be the hardest part of a story, and as a writer I totally understand how complex it can be to stick the landing. Just don't rely on a twist to retroactively justify the whole tale and we'll be fine.

7) What are the top three things submitters to this market should avoid?
Cliché, unpleasant -isms of any kind, and derivativeness--which is another way of saying cliché. Just give me something from the hip and from the heart and from the gut, not the same old thing you've seen in a dozen other magazines.

8) What trait are you seeking most in submissions to this market?
Awesomeness. All that that word implies, both ridiculous and sublime.

9) Any last advice for submitters to this market?  

I'm a tough editor to get by--but not as tough as you think. I want to be thrilled by your story. I want to buy it. Think of me as an ally, not an obstacle to publication. I want you to be the best writer you can be and if I see that potential I will definitely take the chance. All you have to do is blow me away.

For more scoops, go to

D.L. Snell writes with Permuted Press. He edited Dr. Kim Paffenroth twice, John Dies at the End once, and provided a constructive critique to Joe McKinney on his next major novel after Dead City. You can shoot D.L. Snell in the head at

This article may be freely reprinted in any e-zine, newsletter, newspaper, magazine, website, etc. as long as all links and this message remain intact, as well as Snell's byline and bio. The formatting may be adjusted to fit the venue, but the content of the article must not be altered without written permission from D.L. Snell.

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