Award winning short story author Barb Goffman is the guest on episode 19 of The Author Biz podcast.

Barb Goffman with her Macavity Award

Barb Goffman with her Macavity Award

I’ve got a confession to make. I LOVE reading short stories, especially short mysteries. I’ve subscribed to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock’s Magazine for years now because they are such great sources for short stories.

Are you familiar with the world of short stories from the author’s perspective? I’m not, and I’ve always wanted to learn more, so I invited Barb Goffman, an award-winning author who specializes in short mysteries, to spend some time giving us an education.

Barb has seven Agatha Award nominations, two nominations each for the Anthony and Macavity awards, and one nomination for the Pushcart Prize. She won the Macavity Award in 2013, and in 2014 her collection of short stories, DON’T GET MAD GET EVEN, was awarded the Silver Falchion Award for best single-author mystery-short-story collection published in 2013.

She is scheduled to be featured on the cover for her story A YEAR WITHOUT SANTA CLAUS, in the next issue of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, which is a HUGE coup for any mystery author.

In this interview we’re going to be talking about the mysterious world of the short story author, and since Barb is also a highly regarded, and much-in-demand editor, we spend the last quarter of the interview discussing the different types of edits. Things like developmental edits, line edits, copy edits and even proofreading.

I’ve noted some other interview highlights below for people looking for information on specific points.

  • Barb has three new stories that have been or are in the process of being published. We’ll discuss those stories, including her upcoming cover story for the next edition of  Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine.
  • What is a Call for Stories? Barb explains the process, which is unique to the world of short stories, and how those story calls can serve as inspiration.
  • How she might adapt an existing story to meet the requirements for a story call.
  • What’s the submission process like for Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazines? Barb tells her story of dealing with them.
  • Why did she decide to focus on short fiction, rather than novels?
  • Barb tells the story behind her Macavity Award winning, and brilliantly titled short story, THE LORD IS MY SHAMUS, which is available in her collection of short stories, DON”T GET MAD GET EVEN.
  • We discuss the importance of titles in the world of short fiction. Barb believes a good title is important, especially around the time of award nominations.
  • When it comes to the rights for short fiction, every publication works differently. Barb suggests that authors review the rights before submitting their work. Most publications will ask to retain rights for 6 – 12 months from publication, but there may be longer lockups.
  • Price ranges for traditionally published short stories run from zero (exposure only) to several hundred dollars.
  • We discuss the publication life cycle of a short story, using Barb’s MURDER AT SLEUTHFEST as an example.
  • Barb shares her thoughts on the differences between short fiction and novels.
  • What is Barb’s advice for story length? Write the story that is meant to be, rather than shooting for a certain target.
  • A discussion on the different types of edits begins at the 38:30 point in the show. We discuss developmental edits, line edits, copy edits, and proofreading.
  • Barb is on the Small But Mighty panel at Bouchercon on Thursday, November 13th, at 4:00.

Interview Links

Barb Goffman’s Website

Barb Goffman’s Editing website

Barb’s Amazon Author Page

Barb’s Facebook page

Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine website

The Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime website

Yahoo Short Mystery Fiction Society website

Sponsor Information:

This episode is sponsored by  Listeners can get a free audiobook by signing up for a free, no-obligation, 30-day trial from Audible.  To sign up for your free trial go here.

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(Photo by Catriona McPherson)