Guide to submitting to Bastion: a Duotrope interview
Duotrope rates us #4 on their "Most Personable Fiction Markets" and I've done an interview there as well to help you submit. However, if you don't have a Duotrope account, here's the interview to help you when submitting.
Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.
A: golden age sci-fi
Q: What other current publications (or publishers) do you admire most?
A: Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Daily Science Fiction
Q: Who are your favorite writers?
A: Hugh Howey, Arthur C. Clarke, Stephen King, Max Brooks
Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?
A: Bastion focuses on one thing, and one thing only: science fiction short stories. We don't publish reviews, interviews, non-fiction, fantasy, horror, novellas, essays, or anything else. By not fracturing our content among other formats and genres, this allows us to focus on one thing, and one thing only: pure, uncut, science fiction. We also don't have any advertising of any kind, either on our website, or in our issues. Like a good story, we want as little as possible to get between the reader and the action. Each issue is also packed to the gills with content: 7-9 original stories in each. Finally, we're a contributor oriented publication. Part of this means that each submission received gets a personal, meaningful response in a reasonable amount of time. No waiting weeks on end without a response. If we reject your story, you're going to know exactly why. We also work hard to promote our published authors in social media and elsewhere around the web.
Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?
A: Your story needs to be compelling. That's a polite way of saying: don't send us something boring. We want stories with thought behind them. Science fiction is about imagining what could be, so in other words, don't send us cliched tropes without any weight behind the plot, characters, or dialog. Your characters should also be emotionally engaging. Make us hate them, love them, cheer for them, or root for their downfall. And for the love of all things holy, do not send us anything having to do with time travel/manipulation/looping or anything else that has to do with fussing with time. Please review our submissions guidelines on our website, as violating them will unfortunately result in an automatic rejection of your story.
Q: Describe the ideal submission.
A: The ideal story is one that engages us in ways we didn't expect. There isn't any particular sub-genre of science fiction that we're looking for, and we're intentionally vague about this. The truth is, we're looking for good stories where sci-fi is at the core. Maybe that means a detective noir, something with more of a horror twist, or even a story with a steampunk vibe to it. The best stories have details that don't just describe characters or settings, but details that have meaning. Protagonist Smith has blue eyes in your story? Who cares. Protagonist Smith has blue eyes but is the only person on the entire space station with such a feature, making him both reviled and adored in a semi-cult-like fashion? Now that's a little more interesting. An ideal story will also be one that is so exciting to read, we're stumbling over the words to get to the next one to find out what happens. Don't give us boring. Give us thoughtful characters with engaging dialog. Finally, good science fiction has to have believable. We're not looking for you to break down the mathematical constructs that makes faster than light travel possible, but at the same time, "quantum" is not a substitute for "magic." There's only so much hand-waving that we're willing to accept.
Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?
A: Sending stories with anything other than "[Title] LastName" in the email subject. Secondly, sending stories outside of our 1,000-5,000 word limit. Those are strict.
Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?
A: You can provide a cover letter if you feel compelled, although this will have no impact on the evaluation of your story. All we really care about it the body of the email is your name, story title, and word count. The last one is super helpful.
Q: How much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?
A: All stories are read from start to finish. If the first paragraph was poor, but the rest of the story great, then where would we be if we just stopped at the first paragraph? We've published stories before where this actually happened. Therefore it's valuable for us to read through a story in its entirety.
Q: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go though before it is accepted?
A: If a story makes it past the first round slush reader, all Bastion staff members read the story and discuss its merits. Ultimately, we ask ourselves the following:
- Is it compelling?
- Is it a good story? (Yes, we realize this is subjective)
- Is science fiction at the core? If the sci-fi element were to be removed, would the story break? No? Reject.
Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?
A: As editor-in-chief, I oversee all the slush readers, our social assistants, assistant editor, and other staffers. I also interact with the authors and manage the final edits and composition of each issue. I handle contracts, advertising, site maintenance, and cover art selection. Typically when I start work in the evening, I'll go through any stories in the short list pile. This includes discussing the stories and interacting with the other staffers about them. After that, if there are any staffers who are waiting on new slush assignments, I will distribute those. Other miscellaneous emails (interviews, comments, review requests, etc.) and social interactions (Twitter, Facebook) will also be managed. I'll also perform any edits that stories may require before sending them back to the authors for review/approval. There isn't so much a set agenda each day I work, these are more like items that I just have to address and do so as they arise.