The following market report on the anthology, Robots Beyond, as well as the follow-up interview are courtesy of Market Scoops by D.L. Snell.
Zine: GUD Magazine
Editor(s): Kaolin Fire, Sue Miller, Sal Coraccio, Debbie Moorhouse, & Julia Bernd
Pay Rate: 3¢ / word + adv. on royalties
Response Time: 1 week (stats)
Description (from the editor): We’re looking for writing that engages—that makes you want to share it with the stranger next to you on the bus; or more specifically, that makes us want to share it with the world. We’re more than willing to consider any genre, or lack thereof, whether it’s a western, historical romance, or lovecraftian tale of horror. (More in guidelines.)
Submission Guidelines: GUD
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 what is it about their writing that captivates you?
GUD Magazine has a rotating editorship, so my views aren’t canonical—but as front man I’ll give what I can. My personal favorites tend to include Umberto Eco and Salman Rushdie. What really strikes me about them is their exemplary use of language—their prose is intelligent and often beautiful (not purple, just elegant and/or perfectly precise as needed). And their stories tend to have a certain complexity that I find gripping, especially paired with their style of writing. They manage to write to a reasonably wide audience without dumbing themselves down. I’d say that’s something we’re striving for with GUD.
2. What are your favorite genres? Which of these genres would you like to see incorporated into submissions to this market?
Overall, we strive for a balance, but where this balance is struck varies per editor. Each editor posts their particular guidelines on our submissions form.
I grew up on science fiction and fantasy, and have two particular soft spots. One is dystopian science fiction, especially the sort that breaks with traditional apocalypses. And the other is fantasy that pulls from disparate and/or multicultural mythos. Anything that blends or blurs the lines between reality and belief, if it can make itself believable or at least remain internally consistent, gets a plus in my book.
Julia Bernd is the instigator for Issue 3. In fiction, Julia is looking for well-written pieces that score high on the what-did-we-learn-o-meter, broadening the reader’s view of the world in one way or another. She likes to think she’s open to work in any genre, though she admits that she probably has higher standards for some than others. Interesting characters are the easiest way to grab her attention.
3. What settings most intrigue you? Ordinary or exotic locales? Real or fantasy? Past, present, or future?
We’re happy to go anywhere, anywhen. Historical fiction should be well researched, telling us something about the time period as opposed to simply being a modern tale set elsewhen. The same is true of something told in the present or future—anything is good, just make it real for us.
4. Explain the type of pacing you enjoy, e.g. slow building to fast, fast throughout, etc.
A magazine is much like a mix-tape. Any one tone hit for too long loses its impact. With two hundred pages, we do our best to mix pacing, mood, and tone to accentuate and complement the pieces we select. While a story should grip in the first line or two, it can do that just as well with action, description, or dialog.
5. What type of characters appeal to you the most? Any examples?
Characters in full command of their choices, who know why they act as they do. While we enjoy the occasional roller-coaster, we don’t want characters who simply choose what will move the story forward (or, conversely, what will drag the story on longer). Characters should drive the plot, not be the vehicle for it. Characters should be real for their time (have a job, or a specific lack thereof; have a life, or a specific lack thereof; etc). The only caveat that comes to mind is that characters in “creative” professions (who write fiction or poetry for a living, artists) and students tend to be overdone.
6. Horror and violence can be blatant or suggestive. Which one do you prefer and why?
As above, we need a variety. Blatant is often harder to do well—we don’t shy away from gore, but if it reads like we’re watching a video game with the same blood spatters over and over again—we’d rather just go play the video game. The unwritten line is often more impressive for what the reader fills in.
7. In fiction and in life, what do you find most horrific?
People are the most real horror we know. Nature has nothing on it. That said, serial nutjobs and the like get a little old. I tend to be more interested when there’s a blend of old world horror, something more than just a touch of chemical imbalance. Creatures from beyond can be a good way of exploring life, existence, and humanity—but have to be something other than the generic. Cursed objects I find horrific in a different light—tired, overdone, and a very hard sell.
8. What are the top three things submitters to this market should avoid?
We “don’t want” what most markets “don’t want.” Don’t ignore the guidelines, don’t send snotty emails if rejected, don’t use fancy fonts or way-out formatting. Don’t send us stale or clunky writing, clichéd stories, or “it was all a dream”s. Don’t send us masturbatory fantasies.
More unique to GUD, perhaps—we don’t want stories that are just “fun.” We’re not interested in pulp or golden-era fiction. We’re not interested in Tolkien-esque fantasy quests. We’re not interested in stories that focus on one element of writing (just a plot, just a character, just an idea). We don’t want stories that need an intimate grasp of pop culture to get.
9. What trait are you seeking most in submissions to this market?
What we’re really looking for is a specific gut reaction—it’s the same thing I think most markets are looking for, but writers don’t necessarily think about it from this perspective. What we’re looking for is something that we absolutely have to share with people—not just our friends who have a specific taste in something or the other, but with as many people as we can. We’re looking for material that compels us to such an extent that we want to pay for the privilege of sharing it. We’re looking for material that will not just entertain but will actually enrich those who read it, who get it.
Beyond that, what we’re looking for is much the opposite of what we’re not looking for. We’re looking for skilled writing that conveys new ideas, new thoughts, or new perspectives, while also making us care about and/or believe in the character or characters and making us believe in the situation and world.
10. Any last advice for submitters to this market?
They should definitely take advantage of the freebie we give away with every account to get a taste for what we have actually published. They should skim the teasers for an issue or two to get a feel for the breadth of what we publish. Reading the reviews we do of small press publications should also give an idea for how we think and what we’re looking for. Beyond that, they should send us the best they’ve got and let the work speak for itself.