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Apex Magazine Slush Reader Round Table

November 12, 2020

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Lesley Conner is a writer/editor, managing editor of Apex Publications and Apex Magazine, and a Girl Scout leader. When she isn’t handling her editorial or Girl Scout leader responsibilities, she’s researching fascinating historical figures, rare demons, and new ways to dispose of bodies, interweaving the three into strange and horrifying tales. Her short fiction can be found in Mountain Dead, Dark Tales of Terror, A Hacked-Up Holiday Massacre, as well as other places. Her first novel The Weight of Chains was published by Sinister Grin Press in September, 2015. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters, and is currently working on a new novel. To find out all her secrets, you can follow her on Twitter at @LesleyConner.

The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.

Phil Jackson, Legendary NBA Coach

Behind the scenes of every successful magazine is a team of people who keep the gears of publishing grinding. The slush readers! They are the first stop for every submission, whittling the mass of stories a magazine receives each month down to a manageable bite for the managing editor and editor-in-chief. For Jason Sizemore and Lesley Conner, this task is critical. Apex Magazine typically holds open submissions eleven months out of the year, closing in December to allow the slush team a much deserved break and giving Jason and Lesley the time to catch up on their queues. Each month, we average between 1100 and 1400 submissions. Which is amazing! We want those submissions to keep coming, but there is no way we would be able to consider all of these stories without our slush readers.

Because slush readers don’t seem to be discussed too often, and because it’s always interesting to take a peek behind the curtain of publishing, Lesley gathered the slush team together and asked them a few questions about what it’s like being part of the Apex Magazine team. 

Lesley Conner: I think that a lot of people have an idea of what slush reading will be like, but until you are in it, it’s impossible to really know. What were some of your expectations and how does that meet up to the actual experience?

R. Jean Bell: It is even harder than I imagined and I am barely started. We get some really nice solid stories but they just don’t have that Apex feel and it’s been hard sometimes saying no to them, because I know how it feels to be on the other side getting that first round form rejection.

Vanessa Jae: I was expecting to read a lot more stories like my favorite Apex pieces, but we receive many submissions which, although not bad stories, just don’t have what I think of as “that magical and poetic feeling” to them.

Eva Roslin: This is a good question and I think one that has a lot of possible answers. Some people think reading the slush pile must be the funnest thing ever, which — there are moments when I discover something that blows me away, there is certainly that thrill of rooting for that writer and that piece to make it to the publication stage. For the most part, though, I think there are a lot of misconceptions about what reading slush is like. It’s hard work; there is always that element in the back of my head of not wanting to hurt another writer, or sometimes reading something that has some solid elements, but ultimately falls apart at the end or there’s a major element that stops me from recommending the story to move up in the editorial process. 

My expectations were that I did not know what to expect (laughs). It had been recommended to me that reading slush would help me develop a more critical eye and be a better writer, and I think it has shown me in a practical way why some stories work, but why many stories don’t. I’m still learning that each time I read through the slush pile, but I feel like I have absorbed some good lessons that I can hopefully apply to my own work. 

Lillie Franks: I expected the stories in the slush pile to be a lot more samey than they are. That’s not to say there aren’t some recurring themes among them, but I’ve never seen a story that didn’t have at least something that made it different from what you’d expect. It’s really amazing just how many people are writing and how many different angles and approaches they all find. Even if I don’t like a story, I can always find something interesting or surprising about it. Nobody writes the same as anybody else, and that’s wonderful. 

Mike Baldwin: I think I’ve been in the Apex slush for five or six years now, and was thrilled to be asked back to read again — I’m excited for the relaunch! When I first started I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but I know I was looking forward to reading fresh and raw stories that pushed me to think. Overtime, that has definitely held up to actual experience — there are so many wonderful stories out there, and while there are some common themes, no two stories are exactly alike — and it is so incredibly fun to see where writers are trying to take things. I’ve always expected to find great stories, but what I’ve learned along the way is that sometimes you have to reject wonderful stories because they just aren’t the right fit. The pain of rejecting a good story is eased, and it’s really cool, when I see those stories find their fit in another magazine down the road.

Kai Delmas: We were told to try and read 40 stories a month and I expected that to be a challenge, but doable. However, it turns out that the slush pile is quite addicting and I read more than 40 in the first two weeks. There are a lot of good stories out there, no wonder I wanted more.

Marie Croke: My expectations going into slush reading were that there would be clear delineations between what to pass up to the editors and what not to, but that was quickly blown out of the water on my first day. There are obvious stories that aren’t quite there, yes, but a huge amount of stories that come into the slush are good, have something about them that is incredibly positive. But we can’t pass them all up; our job is literally to help the editors by not passing every good story up. So we have to search for reasons why a story wouldn’t work and very often it will come down to a piece just not feeling like an Apex story despite there being nothing intrinsically wrong.

Jane Pinckard: Slush reading is being a gatekeeper, and I take that responsibility really seriously. I try to read every story I encounter with critical sympathy — sympathy for where the writer is coming from, but with an analytical lens. Before I started, I was worried that it would be really difficult, that I would be agonizing over stories and whether to send them on or not. It turns out that, while of course there are some stories that I think about a lot, and spend quite a bit of time on, most of them are pretty clear right off the bat whether they’re a fit for Apex or not. Sometimes the writer’s craft just isn’t there (and in those cases I often wish I could send a little personal note of encouragement!) but often, the craft is quite accomplished, but the story doesn’t have the right feeling for the magazine.

Keturah Barchers: I wish I could say that I was forward-thinking enough to have some articulated expectations, but I’m not. I do think I expected to be working in more of a vacuum, with very little contact with Lesley and Jason, and no contact with my fellow slushies.  I’m delighted to be able to have so much interaction with the team and it’s easy to ask questions if I’m feeling insecure.  I did expect to read a lot and love it (that expectation has been met).

Rhian Bowley: I was a bit intimidated to start with, imagining hours of onerous reading for a strict editing team who didn’t know me. Imposter syndrome was high. What I found instead was that having a long list of marvelous new stories to read was absolutely the best way to escape from 2020 (you know why), and getting to know Lesley, Jason, and the other slush readers, through the magazine’s Discord, has been a delight.

Mike Bell: The experience has been lovely in the trust that Lesley and Jason afford us. I also expected a lonely journey of reading in solitude, but the slush team has been actively communicating and sharing impressions of different stories throughout.

Marissa van Uden: Two very wise mentors told me that slush reading would be super rewarding and a great way to learn and grow, but even so, I didn’t quite realize how rewarding or how much I’d learn. I love talking about stories with people, so it’s also a lot of fun — especially with this team.

Kira Parker: I didn’t have a lot of expectations to start with: this is my first time in slush! I knew I would be reading a metric ton of stories and I had a decent idea what made a great fit for Apex. The sheer volume of submissions are exactly what I thought they’d be, but the depth and breadth, variance and color of everything we read always staggers me.

Lesley Conner: What is the most surprising/unexpected thing about reading submissions for Apex Magazine?

Rebecca E. Treasure: The number of submissions that do not follow the submission guidelines! Standard manuscript format is easy to follow, so the huge number of stories that don’t follow those guidelines surprised me. Similarly, the vast differences between cover letters. A huge number of cover letters have a long bio or a synopsis of the story — totally unnecessary.

Eva Roslin: I think the most surprising thing to me has been how common it is for writers who seem to think that submission guidelines don’t apply to them, or that they’re exempt, or who feel the need to write 10-page cover letters. I can feel that energy leaping off the screen from some writers who think their story is gold and that it’s going to be so brilliant that the slush team and editors are going to gasp with admiration, and offer them a contract on the spot. I hope that didn’t come across as too harsh or cynical, but yeah — for me it is still staggering the amount of people who do not follow submission guidelines. 

Lillie Franks: Before doing slush reading, I always thought that “I liked your story but it’s not really right for this venue” was just a generic blow-off, but you definitely encounter a lot of stories that are great and would not at all work for Apex. I think I was also surprised by how many different identities are represented among the authors, and how many fascinating ways that was represented in their stories.

Ruth de Haas: How many people don’t seem able to follow the Shunn manuscript format properly! Please consider our poor tired eyes and make sure you double space your lines.

Mike Baldwin:  I love reading, and am a lifelong fan of sci-fi, fantasy, and speculative fiction. I really got into the slush as a way of getting to read a lot of free stories. I expected I’d be recommending good stories, and passing on less than good stories. I’ve really been surprised, and didn’t expect, that I would care about the stories. When I find a story that I connect with, and want others to read, I get invested. This will sound a little silly, but I feel so excited and proud if a story I found makes it through the gauntlet and makes it to print.

Kai Delmas: Honestly, a part of me thought there would be more bad writing in the slush pile. Sure, there are a lot of stories that still need some extra work, but a large portion of the submissions are quite good. That makes choosing the stories that get sent up the pipeline much harder.

K.W. Colyard: Definitely the community! Most of us, if not all, are writers as well as readers, and that’s a lonely profession for sure. I think we’re sort of used to feeling like we’re pitching our stories into the Void. They go out to these faceless editors, these names on a screen who decide if our work is good enough, and then get back to us in a few weeks or months. I thought the slush-reading process would maintain that sort of editorial distance, but Apex has a Discord for its slush team! We can chat and discuss stories at pretty much any hour of the night, and we can get to know Lesley and Jason as actual people, rather than figureheads.

Marie Croke: My first day slushing, I searched through the online list of submissions and in the results of the first three pages I found a total of three female-gendered names. There were a couple of ambiguous-gendered names among the rest, but it meant that out of thirty stories, only a small amount were from women. Now, that ended up being a fluke and most pages will have one to four submissions that look to be from women, but that first day really brought home just how homogenous the slush can be sometimes, not just according to gender, but in other demographics as well.

Jane Pinckard: That it’s really fun, actually! I love reading people’s stories, I love seeing the breadth of imagination and experience out there. Please keep sending them in!

Rhian Bowley: With hindsight, I don’t know why I was so surprised at the international diversity of submissions, but it’s been a characteristic that has stood out for me. And I am constantly surprised at how wildly different stories are. When I pull something from the submissions queue, there is no way I could ever tell what I am about to read. 

Another surprising thing, though it shouldn’t have been a surprise, it’s just how many submissions there are. SO MANY. So many writers working on stories for hours and hours and being bosses at sending them out. As a writer myself I know how much time, hard work, and courage this takes; it is awe-inspiring. 

Mike Bell: What’s been so surprising and refreshing for me has been the incredible range of creativity in plot and voice. While there are certain tropes that we see again and again, there are just as many original approaches. It’s a joy to see!

Marissa van Uden: Probably how emotionally invested the whole team is in the submissions. There’s genuine anguish when we fall in love with a story but one small thing doesn’t quite work or it’s just not quite right for Apex. We readers understand there’s no time to send everyone personal notes, but it’s still wild to realize that some writers will get form rejections and never know how much we adored their work.

Gabby Shriner: There are so many! It’s definitely been crazy to see names that I recognize in the slush - authors and writers I follow and more rarely acquaintances or writers/editors at other mags. I don’t know, it can be surreal. The rush of finding a really amazing story in the slush and passing it up to Lesley is also a feeling I never imagined could be as impactful and exciting as it is. The feeling of finding something awesome and really rooting for the writer of the piece is a special kind of thing, for sure. 

Since I’ve been reading for Apex for, I think, over two years now, it is interesting to see similar threads running through submissions at different times. What’s fascinating, though, is that it isn’t really what you’d expect at all: not typically obvious or aligning with current events, or anything like that (though that does happen). I’ve only read one or maybe two COVID-related stories since we reopened for subs in July, and even calling them COVID stories would be a bit of a stretch. *breathes in a sigh of relief, crosses fingers* But I have definitely read 2-3 werewolf stories submitted by people from Australia since July, and a couple stories that focus on the idea of plotting overlords that are actually just creepy crawlies in meat suits? I don’t know what to make of that last one. 

Lesley Conner: Are there any tips you’d give to writers to help make their stories standout in the slush pile?

Rebecca E. Treasure: Beyond following submission guidelines and writing a short, simple cover letter? The first few paragraphs have to hold the reader’s attention. The prose and the plot have to work together right away for me to read the entire story, otherwise I’ll read the first five pages and then move on. Typos, awkward language, a meandering opening, no discernible plot, these are all reasons I’ve moved on from a story. The ending has to land as well — there have been amazing stories that didn’t land the ending, and I wanted to reach out to the writer and beg them to finish their story!

R. Jean Bell: The obvious one is follow the guidelines.

But the less obvious one — work on developing the voice of your piece and bringing an emotional connection in early. If a piece has a strong, compelling voice and it is pulling me into the piece emotionally, it has the best chance of making it through. I’ve seen a lot of stories that work mechanically but just don’t have enough voice and emotional depth to have me want to send them to the next step.

Vanessa Jae: A gripping first scene that makes the reader look forward to the rest of the story and a meaningful ending.

Eva Roslin: I know this is going to seem hackneyed or eyeroll-inducing, but I encourage writers to really take the time to make sure they are submitting the best possible version of their story to us. Get the story critiqued. Go through multiple rounds of edits. I know there’s a temptation to just submit and “see if it sticks.” I think it’s very important now more than ever to remember that readers’ attention spans and tastes have changed drastically. It has become so much more difficult to grab their attention and to hold it — to offer unique stories that aren’t the same pseudo-medieval Western European setting or the same spaceship or the same haunted house we’ve seen a million times before. There are some writers who are inverting these tropes in brilliant ways and using readers’ expectations to create completely new experiences, which I think is brilliant. My main piece of advice would be to echo the above, and to remind folks to please follow the submission guidelines, not just for Apex but for all publications. They’re there for a reason. 

Lillie Franks: For me, what always tips a story over is the big picture of it. There are a lot of stories that feel like they have a really interesting picture or idea but when I think about the overall story, I find that the story didn’t really draw out that idea. So my big advice is make sure that whatever the most interesting idea in your story is, that it’s also the one at the center and that the story is telling us something about it, that it’s at least trying to answer the questions it raises. That cohesiveness really makes a story stand out for me. Also, voice. Stories that have an interesting narrative voice always grab me. They make me excited to unfold the story in a way that a simple 3rd person narrator or an undistinctive first person doesn’t.

Ruth de Haas: I’ve read a lot of stories that are beautifully well-written and packed with clever ideas, but what really makes something stand out is the strength of emotion. The best stories make you feel like you’ve been punched in the guts (in a good way)!

Kai Delmas: Have something to say. Give the reader food for thought that sticks with them for days. Emotions are key. If you make the reader feel something deeply then your story will stand out.

K.W. Colyard: Have at least a passing knowledge of the major conventions and texts in your genre. The well-written stories I reject tend to come from writers who don’t seem to know what people are writing today, and they mostly fall into two camps. Some try to channel classic authors and wind up sounding dated, for lack of a better word. Others try something that’s already been very, very done — think “mad scientist builds a body out of corpse parts” or “it was all a dream” — and they don’t do anything exciting or new with it. We already have an Isaac Asimov and a Frankenstein, and they’re great. What we need are new writers and new stories.

Jane Pinckard: Ha, yes, if you mean, tips I’d give to myself, since I’m also a writer with stories on submission! The momentum of the story is so, so, so important. Every sentence has to pull the reader to the next. This can be done in a variety of different ways, IMO. A compelling voice can make me keep reading to learn more about the character or the story world, even if not much plot is present. A story question posed in the first paragraph that demands an answer. A mystery that I can’t wait to learn more about. Make the reader unable to stop reading!

Keturah Barchers: The submission guidelines are your friends and are meant to help you succeed.  A good title is important and that title should foreshadow your story in some way. The first three lines need to be powerful — make them shocking, make them mysterious enough to elicit curiosity but not confusion. The last paragraph, if it doesn’t tie up all the story’s promises and mysteries it fails as an ending. If you are trying to go for the shock factor, the language in the ending needs to be dramatic and sudden. 

Rhian Bowley: I know how many times has been said already, but please follow formatting guidelines. When one is reading lots and lots and lots of stories, for hours, the recommended layout makes reading on the screen the most comfortable, & the ones don’t use it really stand out. I have a newfound love for Courier! 

Beginnings and ends matter. Don’t start your story with a character waking from a dream, and do take time to be sure the end of your story is the right one. I first heard that advice about endings from Wendy Wagner, and now I understand it. Quite a few times I have been reading a promising story where the end was either rushed or didn’t match the promises the start of the story made. 

Mike Bell: I’ve said this before and I stand by my cardinal rule of writing: the opening is the most important part of the story. If you want to stand out, your first line/paragraph must as well. It must jump off the page and shake me by the shoulders! The right first lines make readers hungry for more. Miss this opportunity and your reader may quit before page two.

Kira Parker: Have some through-line cohesion for your story. You need to have enough of a connection between elements to see the beginning from the end: be precise, be clear. No matter the results, your finale needs to feel earned. 

Gabby Shriner: Absolutely! I might be repeating some other slush readers in this, but I want to emphasize the importance of reading submission guidelines, reading them closely, and following them. You don’t want not following the guidelines to be the reason your story was passed up. To some extent these next may be subjective-ish, but strong worldbuilding and voice/tone of the piece (length of your story depending, too) are important in determining an Apex story overall. Reading current and back issues helps out with this like you wouldn’t believe, in terms of realizing what makes a story a great fit for being published in Apex. My big things tend to be strong characters and character development in a story, and if I’m not rooting for your protagonist or at least on their side/empathizing in the smallest way, it is going to be a no-go or an incredibly hard if not impossible sell. 

Lesley Conner: I know many of you are also writers. Has seeing the submission process from the other side changed anything about how you submit your own work?

Rebecca E. Treasure: I don’t know if it’s changed the way I submit my work, but as I’ve written stories since beginning reading slush for Apex I’ve really focused on those opening pages. I don’t want to give first readers any excuse to close that window! It’s also given me a better perspective on getting rejections — sometimes a story is good, but isn’t the right fit for Apex, and sometimes a story only has a few minor flaws. It really has to be the whole package!

R. Jean Bell: I will be making some changes, yes. Definitely in what I feel is “ready” to go on submission. I need to work more on that voice I mentioned. I will continue to be paranoid about sub guidelines — that won’t change. But I’m going to be stressing less about those dreaded cover letters and I’m going to be working harder to study what I think a market is looking for. And knowing how hard it really is to make that cut to second round— I’ll hopefully be beating myself up less about the inevitable rejections.

Vanessa Jae: Yes, I used to think cover letters were way more important than they actually are.

Eva Roslin: Oh my goodness, yes. It has made me understand and appreciate the intricacies of the editorial process so much more. I have even more sympathy and understanding for the work that editors do, and why it’s so difficult to get that elusive “yes.” There are many perfectly good stories in the slush pile — there’s nothing technically “wrong” with them or no major “ah, there’s the flaw.” But they just don’t click. So much is dependent and subjective on taste. It has encouraged me to be less afraid or hesitant about submitting my work, but also has helped some rejections sting a little less.

Lillie Franks: I joke that I’ve learned from reading the slush pile that I am neither the best nor the worst writer to ever exist, and since those were the only two options I had considered, it’s been an important experience for me. The slush pile really gives you an idea of the sheer quantity of submissions a magazine gets and why it is that, unfortunately, not every story that deserves the platform of a particular magazine can get it. So it’s helped me deal with rejections and I think it has helped me be a little bolder because I no longer worry that I’m going to stand out and embarrass myself as a bad writer; maybe I won’t get it this time, but I have confidence in my work. 

Ruth de Haas: Submitting a story has always felt a bit like yeeting it into an unknowable void. Now I understand more of what happens inside the void, why some places might take longer to respond than others, what sort of things they’re considering, and so on. I don’t think I’ll necessarily change anything in how I submit my own work, but it’s good to know more of how the process works from the other side. Also, I now understand that, if a market says “this wasn’t quite right for us” that’s not an empty platitude — I’ve seen several stories which were excellent, but just not quite right for Apex.

K.W. Colyard: Embarrassingly yes. I am talking to myself, six months ago, in the above. I grew up reading “head-hopping” writers, and I didn’t find out until recently that that’s something most contemporary editors and readers hate. I’m much more critical of how my prose sounds and what I do with perspective now, because I pull so many great ideas out of the slush pile, only to watch them fall victim to issues of word choice and flow. Reading slush is sort of like being in a giant workshop where you can read other writers’ unpublished works, but can’t comment on them at all. It has a way of reflecting your own flaws back to you.

Marie Croke: I’m a writer too and now, seeing things from the other side, it really slams home how matching up a story to a magazine is paramount. Some of these stories are going to go on and be published elsewhere, as well they should be because they weren’t poor stories, they just didn’t embody the feel Jason and Lesley are looking for. It helps to receive rejections knowing that the flavor of that particular story may have just not been the one those editors were searching for.

Rhian Bowley: My newfound love of Courier! I am possibly more paranoid about submitting now, having read such a high standard of the competition. But I also understand better the difference that active, vivid sentences make, and will spend more time trying to ensure my endings pay off.

Mike Bell: Reading slush has certainly changed my process. It has helped me to better identify common pitfalls, to understand what works and what doesn’t. Not only has it improved my writing, it’s improved my outlook. Submitting work can feel so defeating, especially when the response is a form rejection. But readers are real people and we find so many things to love in your work, even when it has to be rejected.

Marissa van Uden: Seeing how crazy good many of the rejected stories are has definitely made me less afraid of rejections. I also have a deeper understanding of how important it is to know the publication you’re submitting to. It’s made me a way more active and conscientious reader.

Kira Parker: I have a better idea of what makes a story “tic.” Reading slush has given me a finer eye for detail and a better gut instinct for where a story exists on the sliding scale from good to great. I wouldn’t say it has made it easier to write them, because I have a higher bar for myself than I used to, but I can recognize whether or not one of my stories is solid with all the right elements. I feel much more confident sending them out! 

Gabby Shriner: If I’m being honest, I haven’t submitted any of my fictional work to a magazine probably for at least a year or two. I’m trying to avoid being too hard on myself about that (especially this year), but reading so many subs for Apex has made me realize that, when it comes to my own writing, I am far more interested in the short story format than I used to be. I read anthologies and short stories in addition to longer novels and comics nowadays, and with that have come to realize I don’t have to write “a book.” I’ve been working on several interconnected stories/chapters of a larger work about virtual reality that take place in different points in time, in different worlds and involving a cast of characters (some of which intersect, cross over into others, and others that don’t), and I’m feeling way more confident about those stories, as standalone pieces that may not necessarily become a larger work. When I can dedicate more time to writing, these may indeed be things I try submitting! And once I take the time to sit down and write more, edit and submit, I like to think I’ll be more confident and careful in doing so, having been steeped in the back end of goings-on at Apex. 

Lesley Conner: What are your hopes for Apex Magazine in 2021?

Rebecca E. Treasure: I would love to see a story I recommended make it into the magazine, but mostly I am excited to see the amazing stories that Apex publishes go into the world.

R. Jean Bell: My unrealistic hope — I would love to see Apex up for awards again. The support of the Kickstarter, the flood of submissions from opening day — the speculative fiction world has missed the magazine. 

More realistically, I hope the magazine succeeds enough in 2021 that it can financially continue in 2022, be it from advertising and subscriptions alone or other support if those aren’t enough this first year.

And I’d love at least once to be the one who found that gem in the slush that makes it into the mag.

Vanessa Jae: More dinosaurs, always. Also, for emerging writers to submit their weird stories no one else seems to like.

Eva Roslin: My hopes for Apex Magazine are for the publication to receive many more subscribers, more eyeballs, more attention, and more support. I hope more people in the speculative fiction field will recognize Apex’s excellence as well as all of the hard work that goes into each issue. I also hope readers can discover amazing fiction and be wowed by some of the things to come, and for Apex to thrive for many years to come.

Lillie Franks: That we’ll keep seeing all of the wild, fascinating ideas people have and that we’ll share as many of the best of them as we can! If the slush pile keeps looking like it does now, we’ll have some excellent material for you! 

Ruth de Haas: To see some of my personal favourite stories appear in the magazine and be able to say “I was the first person to read that!”

Mike Baldwin: My hopes for Apex 2021 — I hope that we will continue to push the limits with our storytelling. There are a lot of good venues out there for story-telling, but I think Apex really fills a void for some incredible stories that just don’t fit anywhere else.  I love this magazine and the range of strange beautiful stories it tells that make you feel and wonder. I really hope a lot of new readers will find and get excited about the Apex vibe. 

Kai Delmas: I hope we get more and more great stories. You write them and we’ll read them.

K.W. Colyard: I just want to read some really good stories and help them make it to print. I applied to Apex to be part of the SFF publishing community, and I’m looking forward to what the new year has in store for us.

Marie Croke: My hopes for Apex Magazine in 2021 are that the magazine delivers stories that make readers feel the flaws in all of us, the flaws in our societies and culture that sometimes feel as if they’re holding us back, but also to celebrate all the hidden hopes and dreams that come through from those dark places and make us keep working our best for the change we want to see. That’s how I see Apex stories, ones that welcome all the darkness in so we can acknowledge and grow from it.

Keturah Barchers: I’d like to see it surpass Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine’s audience :). 

Rhian Bowley: More issues, so we can publish more of the fantastic stories we are receiving.

Mike Bell: My hopes are for new authors to join the Apex ranks! I’m so excited for readers to see the stories that have already been accepted, and I’m excited to discover even more!

Marissa van Uden: After the terrible confusing mess that was 2020, the world really needs good art, and I can’t wait to see what stories we tell as we begin to draw together again, find our feet and get this planet on a better path. 

I have no doubt that Apex will keep publishing original and diverse voices, and that the stories are gonna be dark and strange but filled with beauty and compassion.

Kira Parker: I want each issue of Apex Magazine to feel like the moment right before a leap of faith. I want readers to hesitate before they open their new issues: they know something lurks inside that will profoundly affect their hearts and their minds, and I want us to prove that trust by upending tame reality into terrifying, curious, speculative wonder.

(And I hope the slush team continues to get plenty to read!)

Lesley Conner: Thank you all for answering my questions. Being the front line of the Apex Magazine submissions process is critical to our success! You have our turnaround time for hearing back about initial submissions down to just a few days and you’ve whittled the submission mountain down to a much more reason submission hill. Jason and I are incredibly grateful. You’re all amazing! 

FOR WRITERS

FOR WRITERS is a bi-weekly feature from the Apex Magazine editorial team covering various aspects of writing. Visit our archive to read more FOR WRITERS content!

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