Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Interview with Angela Roberts of The Gloaming Magazine

We always like to feature editors of fine short story venues here at Write1Sub1, just in case you are looking for a great market to feature your work. Today, we're honored to welcome Angela Roberts of The Gloaming Magazine for an insightful interview.

W1S1:  First off, how would you describe your role(s) at The Gloaming Magazine?

We often wear several hats at The Gloaming. As managing editor, I not only participate in choosing content, but also handle most of the day-to-day administrative tasks. So, I’m sending out emails, making payments, preparing contracts, working out new marketing materials, etc. I’m also the webmaster, so I’m in charge of the website; I write a lot of the content, do a lot of the coding, and put together the online issue. And, of course, I write for the magazine; the blogs, interviews, a story or two.

W1S1:  What are the top three things you look for in a story?

I think everyone’s looking for the same thing even if they word it differently. Editor Gabrielle Harbowy, who I interviewed for the magazine last April, puts it quite well: “A good story well told.” What that boils down to is: an engaging character (not necessarily good or evil, but someone who the reader can invest in), a plot (you’d be surprised how often there isn’t one), and what I can only describe as “efficiency”. It’s not the best word for it, but descriptive all the same. Short fiction is a difficult genre because of the need for an economy of language. You need to be able to tell a complete story in a small space. And as writers, we often want to say a lot and we use ten words where five would have been better, and we really need to learn restraint. Some of that is our jobs as editors, to rein you in (or rather, to help you find that right balance) but I will really pay attention to a story where there’s evidence that an author has already been thinking about that.

W1S1:  Typically, what makes the difference between a story's acceptance or rejection?

We’re really quite democratic. Lately, submissions go through sort of a two-round process: we three readers divide the submissions up, choose a top ten, read each other’s choices, narrow it down, then haggle a little until we have a lineup we can all agree on. We’ve been working together for a while, so it’s not difficult for us to find common ground.

Obviously, what gets you through the first round is largely satisfying the three points I already mentioned. There are very practical reasons that someone’s text might be rejected also; a failure to follow the guidelines (we get a few every period), or something is not our genre or not even speculative fiction. Every writer should take some time and do a little homework before submitting their work; if you don’t, you’re not just wasting the editor’s time, you’re wasting your own. Also, if a text is so full of typos that it’s obvious that you didn’t check it before sending it out (and that’s by eye, not just spell-check), it’s out no matter how good it is. If I’m constantly distracted by typos, I’ll never know, will I?

The rest is a little more subjective. We won’t reject a story just because it needs some work. If there’s a great idea, and we can pinpoint what needs to be fixed and we think it can be done in the time required, more often we’ll take it. We’ve been through the creative writing system. We know what it’s like.

So, what really makes the difference? There are a lot of talented writers out there with great ideas. The people who make it, who get their work published, are the ones who do their homework, who are diligent in their work, and who are persistent.

W1S1:  What fresh story ideas/themes/genres would you like to see submitted to The Gloaming Magazine this year?

I would love to see more fantasy. It’s my genre and we never get enough of it. Steampunk’s also something I’ve been getting into recently. I’d love to publish a good Steampunk story. We don’t really do theme issues; instead we sort of ‘find’ a theme later when we look at our choices. But I think it’s something we’d like to do in the future.

W1S1:  If you could change anything about the publishing industry today, what would it be?

I think as a Canadian independent publisher, I have certain frustrations with the industry. I wish that sellers were more receptive to independents. Here, we have one chain that dominates a large portion of the market, and getting into their stores is extremely difficult. There are online sellers, of course, but that presents another problem; the services that they offer to independent publishers are all based in the US. Only Amazon even deals with Canadians. I’d prefer not to be bogged down in administrative red tape; that’s not what I started the magazine for. But you can’t escape it. It’s certainly partly why we’ve been so delayed getting eBook sales going.

So, I think if I could change anything, it would be to have the Canadian publishing industry catch up a bit. Someone with the ability and the know-how could do quite well, I think, providing efficient and inexpensive eBook services to Canadian small and independent presses and magazines. If there is something out there, and I just haven’t found it in hours of searching, then a) they need to improve their search ranking, and b) somebody tell me!

Thanks for the interview! Readers can read the magazine at our site and keep up with updates at our Facebook page or on Twitter.

W1S1:  Thanks, Angela!

So for all of you Write1Sub1ers out there who just might have a story to submit, go check out The Gloaming Magazine's submission guidelines here. And if you'd like to check out the stories in their most recent issue, go here.


  1. A great interview, I think - definitely a market I shall be submitting to!

  2. Ditto. Thanks for cogent advice and a glimpse into your workday, Ms. Roberts.