Mar's Market: Interview: Edmund R. Schubert

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Vision 67

Mar's Market: Interview: Edmund R. Schubert


Margaret McGaffey Fisk

Copyright © 2012, Margaret McGaffey Fisk, All Rights Reserved



The latest interview is with Edmund R. Schubert, fiction editor for Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show (IGMS) since 2006. The online magazine can be read here:  .


--Margaret McGaffey Fisk


Edmund Schubert is the author of one novel, Dreaming Creek, and over thirty-five short stories, about half of which can be found in the collection: The Trouble with Eating Clouds. He's held a variety of editorial positions, currently serving as editor of Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show. An anthology of IGMS stories, co-edited with Card, was published by Tor in 2008, followed by a second one in 2012 from Spotlight Publishing. His non-fiction book, How To Write Magical Words: A Writer's Companion, is a collection of essays about the craft and business of writing by the members of the writing blog Schubert still insists, however, that his greatest accomplishment came during college when his self-published underground newspaper made him the subject of a professor's lecture in abnormal psychology.


Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show is a bi-monthly, online fantasy and science fiction magazine that released its first issue in October 2005. The magazine includes fiction from both established and talented new authors, along with weekly columns and reviews that cover everything from writing advice to books, movies, and video games.


MF: Out of curiosity, how does the submissions email process work? IGMS is rather unique in its form request to generate an email.




On the submissions page of our website is a form that generates an automatic response that sends out an email from our system to the author, which the author can then reply to and submit his or her story. It was set up that way primarily to keep spambots from harvesting our email address and flooding us with emails from Nigerian Princes who need our help getting $18 billion US out of Africa. We like a good story as much (or more) than most folks, but we've heard that one a few too many times.




MF: For IGMS, how many stories per issue come through slush on average verses other means?




 We have three main ways that stories come to IGMS: the regular slush pile; through a special pile reserved for authors who have been through Orson's Writer's Boot Camp and other SF/F specialty workshops (such as Clarion, Odyssey, and Writers of the Future); and directly from more established authors (like Peter S. Beagle) who I know. At the moment, we publish five new stories each issue (new issues published bimonthly), and I would estimate that between one and three stories in each issue come from the regular slush pile. We love working with writers of all levels of experience, but one of the primary ideas IGMS was founded upon was a real openness to working with and publishing new and emerging writers. I'm very happy to say that nearly seven years since IGMS was first published, we're still doing exactly that.



MF: What's one (or more) of the interesting things you learned from getting the behind the scenes stories from authors for Side-Show Freaks?




 I love the behind the scenes stories--always have, ever since I first read some of Asimov's short story collections back in the early '80s. I think the thing I've found most interesting is how much many of these stories have evolved between the first and final drafts. Also, especially with the newer writers, I always find it interesting how personal some of the themes are to the writers. It takes a lot of courage to open yourself up to the world that way, but at the same time, that courage makes for some compelling fiction that readers can relate to.



MF: Over your editorial tenure, you have put out calls for submissions of one genre over another. What makes you feel it's time to do this, and how much of an impact does the call make on your submission pile?




 Sometimes I have a lot more science fiction than fantasy being submitted (though usually it's the other way around). And sometimes I need short-short stories (under 2,500 words) for our audio story. It's just a question of those moments when there's not enough time to get what I need through the normal process, so I tell writers exactly what I'm needing. The response is always great, sometimes even a bit overwhelming, but I always appreciate it. In these situations, they're helping me out as much as I'm helping them.


MF: How do you feel the paid access model affects your readership?




 To be brutally frank, I think it hinders us somewhat, and I'm actively exploring a variety of other options. So much of the content that's available on the internet is free, which makes it challenging to get people to pay for anything. But at the same time, we pay our writers, our artists, and even our slush readers, and that money has to come from some place. That's been an ongoing challenge from day one.



MF: The provision of excerpts to encourage subscriptions is more often seen in the book market than magazines. How do you think this helps you gain readers, and if you track the clickthroughs, what do you learn from which articles/stories catch the readers' eyes?




 The excerpts are designed to give prospective readers a sampling of what they can find in the magazine. Obviously the hope is that people will be curious/interested enough in the excerpts to be willing to buy a subscription so they can read the rest of the story. In that same vein, we also periodically make entire stories available for free--usually stories that have won or been nominated for an award of some sort. (If you're going to tempt people, tempt them with our best, no?) That same reasoning is what led us recently to publish an anthology collecting the winners of the 2010 Reader's Poll. It's called the InterGalactic Awards Anthology, and the first four stories are the reader's favorites, again with the idea that this anthology, serving as a sampling of the best of the magazine, will serve as a gateway to the larger magazine.