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From reading that I know they accept sci-fi, but only if it has some sort of edgy political/activist slant to it. Others specifically exclude horror or time-travel or other genres and subgenres that I might or might not otherwise have considered sending.

That's a good first step, but it's also important to read a couple of issues of each the magazines that you submit to. It's not uncommon for an editor to say what she wants, and then when you read the magazine, you realize she wants something else (based on her acceptance history).

Before submitting to any magazine, I would highly suggest grabbing a couple back issues from a library or other source and just reading their material, then ask yourself, "Does my stuff fit in with this?"

The last thing you'd like to see is to end up talking to an editor on the phone (hey, it happens) because they find a piece interesting but not quite what they want, and they reference a previous issue or their magazine and you have no idea what they're talking about. This happened to a relative of mine. From what she told me, the conversation went like this:

<editor> We thought your piece was really good, but it doesn't quite match our style.
<her> Hmmm, what do you mean?
<editor> For example, you know our Crime Series, right?
<her> Uhhh....
<editor> The column written by Alfred? It's in every issue, about the science of crime stopping?
<her> Oh, um, yeah.
<editor> Well, which of those did you find most interesting?
<her> Uhhh....

And it kind of went on like that for 5 minutes before she fessed up that she had made the submission blindly. The editor rarely gets offended, but it really does look bad.

The typical excuse is "I don't have time to read all that stuff!" And I think the typical editor's response is "Well, I don't have time to read YOUR stuff, but you expect me to, right?"

Libraries, learn to love them =)

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