Recently I took on yet another unpaid gig as an associate editor for Dark Moon Digest. ‘Associate editor’ is a lovely euphemism for ‘slush pile reader’. I applied for this position for various reasons, one of them being that I have always been curious about what it’s like to be on the other side of the slush pile. It’s not the first time I’ve read slush – I helped to shortlist stories for the sixth and seventh Glass Woman Prize and for the “Make Ready” short story competition at AussieCon 4. And I have years of experience critiquing short stories from my involvement in various writers’ groups. But this is the first time I’ve wrangled slush for an ongoing publication.
Managing Editor Stan Swanson has put in place an eminently fair and sensible process. Each story is read by three associate editors, and each editor provides Stan a brief comment on the story and assigns it a percentage rating. Stories that receive an average score of less than 60% immediately receive a polite rejection, otherwise they go out to another one or two readers. If there are widely disparate ratings, he’ll also send it out to another two readers to reach some kind of consensus.
Dark Moon Digest is a non-paying “for the love” publication, so I have to confess to feeling some trepidation at taking on this job. It turned out that I had good reason to be concerned about the quality of submissions, not because so many of them were eye-stabbingly bad, but because so many of them were gobsmackingly good. These are the hungry new up-and-coming short fiction writers who are going to be taking my place in the paying markets if I don’t raise my game.
Dark Moon Digest doesn’t just publish short fiction. It’s a 100 plus page quarterly that also includes horror poetry, columns, book reviews and other features. Issue number 1 is now available. Right now you can purchase the paperback edition from Amazon, with e-publication and PDF versions coming soon on the Dark Moon website.