When I do these interviews, I feel as though I am at a writer conference, sitting down with an editor over a cup of coffee, as they spill out their likes and dislikes–information beyond the printed submission guidelines to give you a bit of a heads up on submitting. Another great thing about this interview is that Suspense is also a book publisher and John Raab, gives us some insights into the process for both. Oh, and they also have a radio show! Good People to get to know!
John says, “I typically say exactly what I feel and don’t pull punches. I tell the truth to a fault, but feel that is the best way an author will grow. So sometimes I’m a little brash, but it’s only because I really want every author to sell a million books.”
Here is the interview:
Joan: Please tell us a bit about the history of your magazine and about the magazine’s goals present day? Particularly, can you define how your magazine differs from other crime magazines out there?
John: We started the magazine back in 2007. We saw a need for authors to be able to showcase their work, not just the big authors, but all authors. In the world of self-publishing many places don’t take these authors serious, however we take all authors serious in the genre. This is one of the ways we separate ourselves from other magazine. We also wanted to add an art aspect, which is why we don’t put authors faces on the front cover, we choose to incorporate what we deem suspenseful art, like a book cover. Most all magazines you see in the genre will have authors on the cover, and to us that’s pretty boring. We feel that we stand out. Goals are something that I don’t really think about. We just focus everyday on trying to make sure that every author has a voice and an opportunity to reach more fans.
Joan: What are you seeking in general and what especially delights you in a manuscript submission?
John: With our book publishing arm, Suspense Publishing, we look for great writing. The one number problem that we see with manuscripts are they are not edited. I’m not sure that inspiring authors take editing serious. We see about half the query letters we get have some misspellings or grammar errors. This does not excite us about reading the manuscript and many times we stop at the query letter and say no thank you. Great writing leads to great character development and great plots. When an author focuses more on the story and not the writing, several mistakes are made. If the writing is top notch, the rest seems to follow.
Joan: What is an instant turn-off in a submission?
John: I sort of answered this question in number 2, but it’s worth repeating. EDITING! That’s the number one thing an author needs. When I say editing I don’t mean your mother, father or other family member. They can read your work, but an author probably won’t get the truth. It’s like I say all the time on our radio show, we are living in the American Idol generation, where the contestants say “My mom thinks I’m a great singer.” The truth? You aren’t and need to work on it. Find an editor that doesn’t care about your feelings and will give you the straight story with your manuscript, that is the only way you will ever become a great writer. Learn to be flexible and take criticism graciously. It’s like what Mark Cuban and Warren Buffet say, the best investment you can make is on yourself. By investing some money on a good editor, you will be rewarded ten times over when you sell your book.
Joan: What are some of your favorite journals/magazines?
John:Good question. I’ll mention magazines that I like to read outside of the genre and have great writing. I like Forbes and Guitar Player magazine the best. They have some fantastic writers that give the reader some really great articles. I love music and read a lot of music websites. My favorite is Blabbermouth.com. They cover the bands that I listen to and give me some great news relating to them.
Joan: How can writers contact you with questions and find out about submission calls?
John: Anybody can always email me anytime. I typically start my day around 7:00 am and stop checking my email around 10:00 pm. I will always write back to everyone that asks for help or just a simple question. I feel it’s important to answer everyone back, since they took the time to find our magazine and email us. I don’t care if it takes me 20 hours to answer every email, I personally answer every email sent to me. firstname.lastname@example.org is my email address. To contact someone on the radio show, you can email email@example.com. Because of the volume of books we get each, over 10,000 a year, we can’t review every book we get, but we try. I do however try to place every excerpt we get from authors in the magazine and I really try to schedule authors on the radio show so they can tell fans in their own words about their book.
Joan: Is there anything else you would like to say to writers who are considering submitting to you?
John: Keep the letter or email short. Just let me know what you wrote and when it comes out. Sometimes I don’t schedule an author interview because I don’t want to interview four authors that basically wrote the same book. We like to give variety, so we don’t have six authors in the magazine or on the radio show that only write military thrillers. I feel that is pretty boring. We love it when fans who normally read in one genre email us and say thanks for turning them on to another author outside of their comfort zone.
Joan: Thank you for sharing all of this with us!