Why You Don’t See More Jewish Horror

THE JEWISH BOOK OF HORROR, the anthology I edited for Denver Horror Collective (DHC) in late 2021, just won a bronze medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, a Silver medal in the 666 Awards, and had previously made it onto the preliminary ballot for the Bram Stoker Awards. Meanwhile, at a recent horror writers conference, I lost count of the authors who told me they loved the book, which sold well at the DHC table, as it has been literally around the world.

While readers are hungry for Jewish horror as a unique exploration of the larger genre, I think I finally understand why THE JEWISH BOOK OF HORROR was one of the only Jewish horror anthologies ever released (all by small presses). And why nearly every working author who also writes Jewish horror tells me they have difficulty getting those stories published.

Because while pitching my Jewish folk horror novel to the editor of a large, established horror fiction publisher, one of my sneaking suspicions as to what’s been turning off so many gatekeepers was finally confirmed.

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The Gatekeeper’s Burden

by Josh Schlossberg

As a horror author who submits fiction to publishers, I often find myself standing in the cold outside the gates of the City of Readers. As an editor who gets submissions for anthologies, I’m also someone who decides who gets to come in.

In other words, I’m both a “gatekeeper” and someone who is “gate-kept.” So a question I’m always pondering is: What is the role (and responsibility) of a gatekeeper?

Over the years I’ve submitted my work to hundreds of editors and agents. In my experience, about half of them never respond at all. Many of the rest send a form rejection, usually months to even years later. Only a small percentage get back to me within several weeks to tell me they’ve passed on my work or not, and a handful of those will explain why.

Turns out, every gatekeeper I’ve interacted with has taught me how to become a better gatekeeper myself, sometimes by example, often by teaching me how not to behave.

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