What Sabrina, Mirror World’s Slushie, is looking for in a submission in 2019.

Last week we heard from our editor Robert about what he looks for in a submission, so this week I thought I would ask what Sabrina, our slush pile enthusiast, is looking for when she scours the submission email for our next bestseller. Here’s what she had to say:

What I would love to see this year are stories that are as original as possible. Stories that might not have the person who can save the world, or is the key to ancient powers. Stories where the world is just as important as the people who live in them. Worlds that are fantastic, outlandish, but make logical sense and are internally consistent.

Give me a story that I can chew on and enjoy like a well made meal, leaving me wanting more. If you can’t give a decent ending due to word count, either go longer, or cut something out somewhere else in the story; DON’T BAIL ON THE ENDING! So many books end up having a flat ending because the author believes they have to wrap it up instantly, and it is so frustrating to read a good book only to have a blah ending. Turn that book into two, or three, or whatever, in order to have that meaty delicious story come to a proper dessert ending with a cherry on top. 

I want to see characters who have depth to their lives, and don’t all have tragic backstories. Give your characters flavour and colours that are a part of the story, and not slapped in there because it’s the current trend. Be subtle, so when bits and pieces come out of who they are or what the world is, it’s not abrasive like sandpaper, but a gentle wave caressing the shore. I like seeing build ups to events, to character or world-related revelations, as much as I enjoy seeing action right off the bat. Both have their pros and cons, and if you make it work, it will work!

If you are writing in first person, take the blinders off that person! There is a whole world out there that you can sink your readers’ teeth into, and I’ve seen it done well, (For a great example of this see the Unreachable Skies Trilogy by Karen McCreedy).

If you want to take some historical event in Earth’s history and give it a twist, go for it! Books like the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik (Napoleonic war, with Dragons) were a fantastic read. If you want to take a fairy tale, and give it that unique twist, I recommend checking out the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer (Cyborg Cinderella, amongst others). If you are going to retell a fairy tale though, make sure that it is as an original take on that fairytale as you can make it. If you want to create an entire series and world that has an unraveling mystery and a unique history, I would read up on the Pern series by Anne McCaffery (Dragons, Science, Fantasy).

What I don’t want to see.

Dystopian worlds. The person with all the gifts and is amazing right from the get go. The person with the super tragic backstory and has to avenge their family or such. Vampire love stories. Terrible first person blind perspectives.  Stories with great beginnings and middles, but with flat endings. Generic retelling of fairy tales or other stories. Illogical story progressions, character actions, etc. Telling people what and who the characters are because it’s ‘the thing’ to do these days, but has no real bearing on the story (therefore, forced diversity). 

And lastly, drop those flowery words, unless your characters speak with those flowery words, it’s unnecessary! 

Thanks for reading and we look forward to going through the slush pile, starting November 1st, 2019! If you would like to submit to us during this year’s submission season, please see our submissions guidelines. 

3 thoughts on “What Sabrina, Mirror World’s Slushie, is looking for in a submission in 2019.

Add yours

  1. Many thanks for sharing this. Your submission criteria is on point. I am an aspiring author and avid reader of all things science fiction and fantasy. From what I have seen while shopping for my next read, the market is saturated with retellings of great original stories.

    Recently, I have read numerous apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic series to study how other writers set up and facilitated their apocalyptic event, and from what point of view. Additionally, I watch for science and story gaps so I can avoid these errors.

    I’m currently writing the first book in my post-apocalyptic science fiction series, “Phazed World: A New Beginning.” My story concept is unique and has never been attempted before. Many amazing authors have reviewed it and provided great feedback and encouragement, like David Brin (The Postman), T.A. Barron (The Merlin Saga), SM Stirling (The Emberverse and Nantucket Island series and The Peshawar Lancers), and Nicholas Sansbury Smith (Extinction Cycle and Hell Divers).

    I’m taking my time writing this first book to get it right the first time. I have many incredibly talented friends who are published authors and subject matter experts in specific fields that provide technical advice as I write. My acknowledgement and thank you list will be extensive.

    I haven’t decided whether to go the traditional publishing route or self-publishing. I will need to decide soon.

    Anyway, many thanks again for sharing your submission criteria and for all that you do!

    Now back to the writing and world-building. 😁

    Allen V. Cheesman

    On Twitter as @AllenVCheesman

    On Instagram as @Allen.V.Cheesman

    Liked by 1 person

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