Thoughts after attending a panel with the editors of Clarkesworld and Card's IGMS.
|Neil Clarke, editor of Clarkesworld, served on a panel recently at Capclave (October 2011). His Hugo award-winning magazine in both 2010 and 2011 receives about 800 submissions a month for what had been twelve slots for new authors a year. Neil did an analysis of submissions and found that there are 14,000 new sci fi/fantasy authors out there seeking to get published. Clarkesworld has 20,000 subscribers and has Hugo awards for best semipro magazine. He publishes two short stories a month, one from an established author and one from an unknown. The growth of his ezine is now allowing him to expand to accepting 24 new author pieces a year. Even with his volunteer acquisition editors helping him read the submissions, and the expanding number of sci fi/fantasy competitors across the Internet, all of us seeking to turn professional are facing an uphill battle in getting our work published.
The Sci fi/fantasy world is turning more and more digital, which is turning around the market. The panel I attended included Edmund R. Schubert, the editor of Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medical Show, who stated that with Asimov’s going online it went from 4,000 to 5,000 subscribes. That is the largest jump in their audience in years. Edmund also told the audience that IGMS has not yet followed the growing trend of selling digital back issues on Amazon. He cited rights issues as one of their particular challenges.
What is clear is there are now a lot of electronic sci fi/fantasy ezines for wannabees like me to submit to, whether pro, semi-pro, or markets that help us build name recognition. And there are a lot of us out of there, making it extremely important for us to put out quality work. Neil and Edmund both agreed that ten percent of what is sent in ignores their writer’s guidelines and is automatically rejected unread (often this is a simple case of receiving stories in formats their PC's can't read). They both felt that if quality work is not sent they move on to well written, better proofed work. Both IGMS and Clarkesworld are paying markets and are looking for the best stories to feature. Clarkesworld pays $400 per story on average and pays more from royalties from the chapbook versions they produce for sale every year.
If you are looking to become professional, rule one is not to give up your day job… Getting published is not winning the lottery. Clarkesworld or other markets seeking to buy 24 stories a year, paying a few hundred dollars is not going to make any of us rich. Also, in these days when publishers have no choice but to reduce print runs due to less space on bookstore shelves – the loss of Border’s is really taking its toll – there are small presses digitally producing ebooks and offering books-on-demand, trying to fill the vacuum. Of course, there is also the self-publishing route, but the key to success is in building and maintaining an audience.
We are writing in an print age in transition – and if you are like me, writing every day, honing stories and novels, and trying to do all the right things to build an audience, knowing we are not alone and getting an idea of what editors are seeing in terms of sheer volume of stories being submitted is an insight worth sharing.
Write-on and submit! I’ve got a growing number of rejection letters and emails that I look on as just another opportunity to submit to the next market on my list (which is growing a little larger every week). My mantra is: Dare to believe, in yourself and your stories and one day others will too!
About the author
Highmage has serialized his novel Highmage’s Plight on Writing.com. It has appeared in the ezine Separate Worlds (www.separateworlds.com) in its entirety. He is currently serializing another novel in the series, Human Mage, which will be completed by summer 2012. To learn more, visit his website: www.dhr2believe.net. The author lives in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. He can be reached at dhr2believe at writing dot com.