We've started working hard behind the scenes on the new issue. I've been going through a lot of slush and it occurs to me that you all might be interested in some tips about what we like or don't like or what we're looking for at our 'zine.
Of course, every fiction market is different. So, my comments will apply to Electric Spec. First things first. We publish science fiction, fantasy, and the macabre--also known as speculative fiction. Hence, the name "Electric Spec." :)
What are we looking for? We want a fresh take on any of these genres. For example, "Lest They Drink and Forget the Law" by Malon Edwards is a fantasy with an environmental twist. In a water-starved world, the protagonist has a special power to control water. Neat! Personally, any story dealing with climate change issues will get my attention.
Combinations of genres can work great. For example, "10,000 Bones" by Joe Ollinger is a spooky science fiction detective story. Neat!
Humor can work great. "In the Belly of the Beast" by Larry Hodges is a fantasy in which the dragon is killed in a unique anti-hero way. I'm smiling just thinking about it.
So, the bottom line is: we want unique stories.
What do we like? We like well-written stories of any type. In this day and age every story has to have a well-developed character. Electric Spec stories have to have a plot, by which I mean: the protagonist has some kind of problem and act to try to solve it. This almost always means some action and some dialogue.
As far as more specific likes and dislikes, these do depend on the editor.
I think Editor Dave most enjoys a good epic fantasy.
I think Editor Betsy most enjoys something dark and twisted.
I enjoy everything. :) But, if I had to narrow it down, I enjoy stories involving time travel and/or quantum mechanics.
I do have to say I dislike stories in which men torture and/or kill their wives or girlfriends. Gratuitous violence is not interesting. You'd be surprised how many of these we get under the guise of macabre.
So, anyway, there are some tips. Good luck with your writing and submitting in 2013! I'm rooting for you!