Thursday, August 6, 2009

Attrition

Jim Baen's Universe is closing. Geez. The SFWA Pro markets list was small enough already; now a fantasy writer is down to five markets that accept fantasy and are open to submissions. Five!

Not that I'm particularly keen to join SFWA. But I'd like the option, so I can sneer and refuse to join.

Look, here's the list, with my notes in bold. The italicized markets are ones that are open and accept fantasy. Note also that even if all these markets were accepting subs, there are still just seven that accept fantasy (although several of them say they accept dark fantasy, which means they're horror markets).

Analog Science Fiction and Fact [sf]
Asimov’s Science Fiction [sf]
Apex (starting with June 2008 issue) — NEW Added July 7, 2009 [sf]
Baen’s Universe [closing permanently]
Brutarian [horror]
Cemetery Dance [horror; closed to subs]
Clarkesworld Magazine
Chizine [horror; closed to subs]
Cosmos [sf; closed to subs]
Dark Wisdom [horror; on indefinite hiatus]
Dragon [takes all rights; I'm frankly shocked they're considered a pro market]
Fantasy Magazine [closed to subs]
Flash Fiction Online NEW added Feb 2009
Grantville Gazette (starting with May 2007 issue) NEW added Feb 2009 [specific alt-hist world]
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
Odyssey – Adventures in Science [sf; for children]
Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show
Pedestal Magazine [lit magazine, will accept genre work if it meets their criteria for lit]
Realms of Fantasy [closed to subs]
Strange Horizons
Subterranean Magazine [invite only]
Tor.com — NEW Added July 27, 2009 [invite only]
Writers of the Future Anthology [contest]

The sad fact is that very few markets can pay pro rates--set by SFWA currently at 5 cents a word, minimum $50--because they're just not getting enough subscribers. Jim Baen's Universe is closing for that very reason. Sometimes I wonder if non-writers even read these magazines anyway. I think they continue to exist largely because wannabe pro writers buy them to study the stories, in hopes that one day they too can be published in a pro market, at which time they'll be read by a new generation of wannabe writers.... Not that they don't publish good stories, but the audience seems kind of limited.

I dunno, I've had a cruddy day--one of those "if anything can go wrong, it will" days, and tomorrow isn't going to be any funner. I'm being even more cynical than usual. BUT! I did get my comp copies of two magazines that I have stories in: New Fables #3 and Beyond Centauri #25, both of them very pretty magazines produced for people who buy them to read for enjoyment. I know because New Fables is a furry magazine (they pay 1/2 cent a word) and Beyond Centauri is for kids (they pay a flat fee of $2, $3, or $6 depending on story length), and both furries and kids are sincere consumers of fiction. It's sort of refreshing, although it's not exactly paying for my trip to DragonCon.

18 comments:

Aaron Polson said...

"but the audience seems kind of limited"

I'm with you there...maybe that's why markets are drying up. SFWA has a very narrow doorway to join. At least the HWA is open to any market that pays enough, not just the "master list".

Short fiction will always be with us, but I see more pro payers going the way of the dodo. It just doesn't make enough money. I love to write shorts, but people shell out their dough for novels.

Man. I'm cynical, too.

K.C. Shaw said...

Cynical is catching, sorry.

I mostly buy and read novels myself, so I'm part of the problem, I guess. It's funny that in a time when people are supposed to have such short attention spans and so little time, novels are selling far better than short fiction. You'd think it would be the other way around. On the other hand, it's hard to immerse yourself in a short story the way you can with a novel.

Danielle Ferries said...

It feels like the market is narrowing at a horribly fast rate. I too admit that I read more novels than short stories, although do love to write short stories.

BT said...

Thanks for the heads up on this one - a growing trend unfortunately.

I think mags who include short stories will go back to being pulp type things and ezines who pay minimal amounts. It'll be significant only because it's been around for a while and has good stories in it - of course the writers of those stories will get bugger all in compensation...

But, there never was any money in writing shorts so it's either a stepping stone to novel writing, or done just because a writer has to get a story out of their head.

Still, I'm with you, I'd like the option to be able to join one either the SWFA or HWA one day - not likely, but I'd still like the option...

K.C. Shaw said...

Danielle--I was really shocked to see that Baen's Universe was closing. It seems like so many of the big, established magazines are folding.

BT--I like the quick gratification I get from short story writing. Novels take so long to write and edit, and then there's the horrible waiting times for agents/publishers to respond. At least with short stories I can feel like I've accomplished something. It'd be nice to make more money from it, but that's never going to happen, alas.

Jameson T. Caine said...

Since I've made a serious attempt at being a writer, I read a lot more short stories than I did before. I think you're right that a large portion of those reading these magazines are hopefuls like me. I know that if I ever got to the point where I graduated to a successful novel career, I'd probably read such publications much less.

And sorry about the cruddy day, but yay for kids and furries!

K.C. Shaw said...

Kids and furries are so cute. Except when they're gross.

Catherine J Gardner said...

I sigh everytime I see the SFWA list - I'm never getting in. And I've started using the 'what's new' page on Duotrope to find somewhere to send stories too, the search function is so depressing when all you see is... Temp closed... Temp closed.... All we can hope for is when one magazine sinks another resurrects in its place.

Congrats on the publications.

K.C. Shaw said...

'Never getting in' pfft--you're partway there already! I don't even have one qualifying sale.

There are a few newer markets that will probably get added to SFWA's list once they're a year old. Beneath Ceaseless Skies meets their payscale and undoubtedly has the circulation by now, for one. Hopefully SFWA will actually add them, and others, instead of letting the list shrink and shrink and shrink.

Aaron Polson said...

I'm back, just like a bad penny. I love short stories, and truthfully, I probably read from my various anthologies and collections more than novels. I think this makes me the odd man out; maybe it has to do with kids (my attention span wanes).

I don't know. Most "big time" anthologies (filled with bestselling "name brand" authors) usually suck (in my opinion). But I teach short stories, I love to read short stories, and I definately love to write them.

I have to realize that the economics of it all trend to the novel. Short stories will always be there, though. God I hope so.

Sorry this turned into a blog post of it's own. Actually...it might.

Angela said...

Frustrating, isn't it? Ugh.

Jamie Eyberg said...

The closing of Baen's saddened me. i just thought to myself,'another one bites the dust.' (and another one down, another one down, another one bites the dust . . .)

K.C. Shaw said...

Aaron--I'm sure you're not alone in really liking short stories. I'm a novel reader myself, although I do really like a good novella.

I haven't bought a big-name anthology in years. I'm like you, I'm never really happy with them. I like smaller anthologies because the range is usually wider and the ideas fresher.

Angela--definitely frustrating, and a bit worrying too.

Jamie--I'm starting to wonder ghoulishly now which big market will bite the dust next. (And that song always reminds me of the fair when I was a kid. It was always playing.)

Diana said...

If you have any suggestions on how to increase sales of the short story publications, I'm all ears. I'd like to pay writers pro-rates and add a Fantasy magazine to my line-up, but can't until I get a decent sized sales base to support it.

Anyone reading can send a suggestion to: diana@scribblersandinkspillers.com

Jeremy D Brooks said...

Sad sign'o'the times...

The odd thing, to me, anyway, is that modern short attention spans seem to be more attuned to short stories (when you find yourself skimming tweets because they're too long, the end is nigh), but the increase in popularity is going the opposite direction: toward voluminous stories like Harry Potter and Twilight. But I guess a lot of that is more marketing than actual reader preference.

Ultimately, it seems to point to the de-institutionalization of literature, kind of like what's happening to music. This is the dark part of the forest; some smart business person will figure out a new way to monetize it, and the markets will pick up again. I hope.

K.C. Shaw said...

Diana--Back in the 1990s I briefly published a (not very good) music zine. I sold ads to fund it, and if I'd tried even slightly harder than I did, I could have made a killing. I don't know what the music scene is like now (probably hurting a lot more than publishing), but I've always thought that to be really successful, a magazine ought to be music-themed and throw in at least one music review per issue, and sell ads to small labels.

Jeremy--Yeah, I see the de-institutionalizing (wow, that was hard to type) of writing happening in small ways that seem to be getting bigger. I'm of mixed views on that. I do think it's great that publishers aren't the only ones holding the reins now; on the other hand, there's so much badly written stuff out there being thrown up (sometimes, it seems, literally) on the net that I don't want to make the effort to find the good stuff. At least publishers are gatekeepers for quality, even if they tend to narrow the field a bit too much for my liking.

Rick said...

I had just heard about them closing via my publisher, who said, "Magazines are dying. It was only a matter of time."

K.C. Shaw said...

That's a scary thought, but I can see it happening too. It's a shame, really, since some writers are short storyists and not novelists.