Archive for the ‘SF/F’ Category

Endless Payrate Debate

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Wow–it’s amazing how these blogosphere debates in the SF/F writing community go viral like Sauron’s army sweeping over Middle Earth. Here’s what I think about this endless “payrate debate,” in case anyone out there in radio-land is listening (I DJed enough 2AM college radio shows to know that it’s often dead air out there :) ).

I think the fact that short fiction pay rates are not a “living wage” is irrelevant. Short fiction is a dying industry with a tiny consumer base; it can’t pay a living wage anymore. Genre novel publishing pay for mid-list writers is getting smaller every year; even with “high” advances like $50,000, novels can’t pay a living wage either. Connie Willis, at a workshop I attended, said that the era when the majority of writers could make a living at it is gone. I agree.

The only point I see in the wage debate is that if this magazine Black Matrix is spending lots of money to produce a slick glossy magazine but only paying 1/5 cent per word for fiction, their budgeting priorities are way wrong. The biggest expense for my magazine by far is paying the authors, and that’s how it should be. Isn’t the fiction the priority?

It also saddens me to see these same-old endlessly circuitous debates between pro writers and aspiring ones, like similar arguments over self-publishing. The gifted pro writers who’ve never struggled through hundreds of rejections don’t understand what it’s like to be struggling like that, and the aspiring writers don’t understand that publishing is not an elitist system that’s stacked against them. Neither truly understands the other’s point, so they argue endlessly.

The saddest thing to me is all the time they both sink into it–time that would be better spent writing! :)

Cover Letters and Low-Level Credits

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

The current wildfire blog topic in SF/F short fiction circles has been very low-paying magazines and whether it’s worth it for an author to submit to them. One of the suggested benefits of submitting is for young authors to get publication credits, which they then can cite in their cover letters to other magazines in order to impress the editors.

I read a blog post by Ann Leckie, Associate Editor at Podcastle, which pretty much completely epitomizes what I feel about fiction credits in a cover letter when I read submissions for BCS.

I do glance at credits in cover letters, and they do have some impact on how much time or length I will give a story to let it impress me. But by far the most important thing is the quality of the story. By far.

And I share her admission that there are a very few credits that can have the opposite effect. They would never make me discount a great story, and they would never put me off on reading future submissions by that author. But on occasion, they can have a negative impact on how much time or length I will give that story to impress me.

So I share her admonition: write as well as you can. In the case of BCS, where I include comments in all rejection letters, perhaps spend a few moments thinking about why I said your story didn’t work for me or for BCS. Then please send me a better one.

Nebula Award Nominations

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

It’s Nebula Award nomination season again, when any Active or Associate member of SFWA can nominate works for the Nebula Awards.

My short story “Ebb,” from Space and Time #107, is eligible. It’s a neat little story, with an interesting protagonist and a subtly fascinating world, and it garnered glowingly positive reviews from both Tangent Online and

Should you feel it worthy, I would appreciate your nomination.

I also direct you to my magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies.  Because of the date range for Nebula eligibility, all the stories BCS has ever published are eligible.  For a shortlist of our best-reviewed stories and the Nebula categories they fall into, click here.  For a full list of all stories and their Nebula categories, click here.

Thanks very much!

“Excision” to be a Podcast

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

I recently received word that my story “Excision,” which appeared in Weird Tales #347, has sold as an audio reprint to Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine. Woo!

Dunesteef isn’t as well-known yet as the top podcast ‘zines, like Podcastle etc., but they have very good production and an impressive back-catalog of stories by neo-pro writers whose work I’ve enjoyed (Ian Creasey, to name one). They stage their podcasts like an old-timey radio drama, with sound effects and different voices for each character, so it will be very cool to see what they do with “Excision.”

They also have an Author’s Notes segment after the story audio, where the author explains the inspiration for the story. I recorded that segment in my home studio and sent it to them. So even if you’ve already read the story, you can still check out the podcast to hear my reflections on what went into it.

I don’t know yet when they plan to release it–I’m guessing early next year. When I find out I will definitely post here.