Posts Tagged ‘SF/F’

Awesome Props for BCS

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Over the weekend, my magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies got two wonderful recognitions.

First, SFWA, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, deemed us an official SFWA pro market. Because we’ve met the qualifications since our first issue, any story in BCS in the past or future can be used to qualify the author for membership in SFWA. The magazine of course was designed to meet SFWA’s requirements from the start, and now it’s great to have their official stamp of approval.

Also, reviewer and editor Rich Horton gave BCS a glowing review in his year-end summaries of F/SF magazines. He said we “routinely publish fine adventure fantasy” and “have become a really important source of fantasy.”

He also noted that BCS is “the fourth largest source of new fiction among magazines and webzines, behind only the traditional ‘Big Three'”, which are Asimov’s, Analog, and F&SF. That is really astounding. I knew we had published over 350,000 words of short fiction last year, but I didn’t realize how that compared to other magazines.

I am delighted at both of these recognitions. The magazine is a joy to run, but it’s also an immense labor, so it is great to see it getting more and higher-profile recognition.

Et tu, IROSF?

Monday, January 4th, 2010

The Internet Review of SF, perhaps the best review and non-fiction F/SF ‘zine going these days, has announced they will be ceasing publication in a few months.

I’m bummed to hear that.  Lois Tilton, their legendary short fiction reviewer, reviewed every issue of my magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and I really appreciated that.  Her reviews were sometimes a bit grumpy, as they are known among writers to sometimes be, but she was always fair and honest, and when she praised a story, you knew that that praise had been earned.

I hope that short fiction reviews in general and Ms. Tilton’s in particular will keep going in some form, in this age of unclear business models for online F/SF both fiction and non-fiction.  Non-fiction and short fiction reviews are a vital if less glamorous part of the field, and it would be a shame if they dried up.

2009 Submission Stats

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

My fiction submission stats for 2009:

50 submissions (all short fiction; three more than 2008)
49 rejections (three more more than 2008)
0 new sales
1 reprint sale (audio)
1 story published

It was yet another trying year, even moreso than 2008. My stories continued to get passed up to editors at pro mags, and they continued to get a lot of “almost” rejections. Exactly like the two last years.

For the first time since I’ve been submitting, I went the whole year without selling a story. Calendar years, of course, are arbitrary demarcations, but that still was quite disappointing.

I did make my first-ever reprint sale, an audio podcast of my Weird Tales story “Excision” to Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine. Which is very cool, and I look forward to hearing their podcast.

My story “Ebb” in Space and Time #107 got two glowing reviews in “mid-list” online SF/F review magazines (here and here), which was extremely cool. But, even though Space and Time is a well-designed magazine with a known name, “Ebb” didn’t garner any other interest and has not yet sold as a (audio) reprint.

Overall, this year was pretty much the same as the last three. My brand of character-driven, secondary-world fantasy isn’t a priority for most all magazines. Editors at major mags have said that my stories are too swords & sorcery for them; editors at S&S mags have said that my stories are too character-centered with endings that are too dark. So I’m caught in between.

But I can’t blame it all on that. I’ve written several stories in other styles, and they’ve gotten the same “almost” rejections. Which suggests I still haven’t made a leap in the quality of my fiction.

In the past two years’ Stats posts, I mentioned I was working on improving a specific element in my fiction. I think I made progress on that this year, but the jury is still out on whether it’s made a difference. I unfortunately only got two new stories out the door this year, one for the Homeless Moon chapbook and the other only recently sent out, so I haven’t yet gotten editorial reaction to it.

The coming year will tell whether or not I have made a significant improvement. I’m already working to get more new stories out the door this year, while also rewriting several older ones based on pro editors’ comments. We’ll see if that makes a difference.

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! :)