Well, I’m still going over the last few submissions to Life of the Dead, and it is a really hard thing to do. Why, do you ask? It’s because there are so many qualified stories in this batch that could easily find their way into print, but there is only so much room left. The last selections will be made in the next week or two, as I reflect on the entire situation.
This brings me to an interesting topic that I thought I’d discuss briefly. That is, the attitude I adopt when reading through the slush pile. I suppose you could say it is different for everyone, but when I take on the task, I go into with the attitude that I want to like the story. I want to enjoy this and accept it. Later, as I read into the story, it will either prove me right and get accepted, or it will change my mind.
I have heard that some editors do the exact opposite. They read their slush piles with the attitude that they hate every story, and wait for the stories to prove them wrong before getting accepted. I simply can’t buy into this negative approach. Others still claim to have a true neutral position, but that is a hard code to follow. Depending on your mood or the time of day, or what’s going on in you personal life, you’re going to start reading with a particular bias. I suppose it’s easier to be negative for some folks, which is where the concept of “hate everything until proven wrong” comes into play.
This is why I sometimes have a backlog of stories to read. When I am feeling negative or preoccupied, I cannot read slush with the positive attitude that I require to find those stories I truly like. I don’t want to run the risk of passing on a story that I could enjoy, simply because I’m in a bad mood that makes it impossible for me to appreciate what I’m reading. Also, I don’t want to start accepting stories that I’m not enjoying, thinking I’ll like them later. First impressions are often lasting, and the memory of not enjoying something can put a permanent stain on it.
Some people will call my publishing philosophy unprofessional, but it is the entire impetus behind Martinus Publishing. I went into this to publish stories that I wanted to read, stories that may not otherwise see the light of day. I continue to adhere to that business model, feeling that people will either appreciate the stuff I publish, or they won’t. I cling to the hope that there are other readers out there who are thirsting for the kind of entertainment that I myself appreciate. Therefore, I will continue to publish to entertain, above and beyond anything else.