Thursday, April 30, 2009

Another one down, but not out

I read on Apex magazines blog this morning that Jason Sizemore and crew are putting the magazine on hiatus for a while. How long they are not sure. I am saddened to see a quality professional market do this, even if it is temporary. I hate to say this but we are running out of professional markets to submit our stories to and in them we are competing with the established writers. The semi-pro markets are looking to be the new pro markets. I hope this economic turn-around happens sooner than later. I know people are pinching pennies, but this is ridiculous. I think we are down to *counting on fingers* 7 or eight pro markets (strickly pro not a set fee that could take a longer work down to semi-pro) in the horror genre and in the science fiction genre we have 15 markets listed under duotrope that are not flash only. For horror writers I find this alarming. Many of those markets only accept a few pieces a year and many of those markets are the same for both genres. There is some pretty stiff competition for these markets.

I don't envy the publishers at this point. It is tough. I understand that. Even a free online magazine has a hard time, with quality pieces, gaining an audience that is anything other than other writers. I don't know what to do about that. I am always suggesting stories for my non-writer friends and they seem to enjoy them, but they don't seek them out on their own.

Still, I consider what I do to be necessary for myself. Even when I was working full time and didn't have time to write stories, in full anyway, I would jot down ideas on scraps of paper and sneak into the office in the middle of the night to get a few paragraphs down every once in a while. I even kept a notebook when I worked so I could tap that spot in my brain after I ate, while I waited for the others to get back from whatever cafe or gas station they were eating at.

I would write if I wasn't published and I would seek out new stories and new authors until I die. Just the way I am wired I guess.

By the way, Editors that I have stories out to, you still have 15 hours to get that rejection or acceptance (even a hold) to me to be included in the end of month blog that I will post tomorrow. Hurry, this offer won't last.


Aaron Polson said...

People just aren't reading (fiction) like they used to. Our limited attention spans are being drawn in other directions, and I'm not sure what to make of the landscape.

A writer almost has to diversify into other forms of media to have any sort of voice. Maybe that is the model of the future.

Jameson T. Caine said...

I hope they get back in the game someday. While limited markets and story slots can make for better writing from those competing for them, it can also mean some folks can get overlooked. Sort of a double-edged sword kinda thing.

The decline in reading often worries me. I'll always consider myself a writer, but if there is no one left to entertain, some of the fun is removed from the equation.

Fox Lee said...

I blame "The Hills."

Cate Gardner said...

Some days life is pants.

K.C. Shaw said...

I counted a week or so ago, and SFWA's pro market list only has seven markets right now that accept fantasy for grown-ups and are also open to submissions. It's really sad

Jamie Eyberg said...

People wrote off fiction in the 1920's as well, then along came Hemmingway, Faulkner, et al.

I think Aaron is right, we need to follow a different model and novels could be it, screenplays could be it, comics, novellas, children's tie in products. Who knows.

It has never been a feast for everyone involved. Some people, no matter how good, will be left behind, as in any business model. do you really think Windows is the best operating system out there. No, but 95% of computers run it because no on want to put in the time to figure out what will work better for them. Maybe that is the model we need to look at as writers and package ourselves.

Sorry, rambling again.

Barry Napier said...

Awesome post. And odd that it comes today of all days when I planned on sending out about 8 subs....

Danielle Birch said...

I just found the same thing with Demonminds. I was going to submit something to their Halloween anthology and when I went to check on something there was a note saying it had been cancelled. I'm going to either find another place for a Halloween story or rework it.

BT said...

Going through my market hive at AHWA, counting only markets that accept dark fiction, or speculative fiction (SF/F/H), and only pay above 5c/word minimum, I currently have 18 markets listed - whoops, make that 17 now Apex is on hiatus. I have 26 markets that pay semi-pro in the same categories.

It's not quite as bad as lots are making out, but I have noticed a definite trend toward the advancement of semi-pro as the new breeding ground for excellent shorts. And a proliferation of exposure markets. Unfortunately these exposure markets tend to come and go, but there have been a few College Review-type mags start up recently which tend to hang around a while.

The thing is, you can cut the numbers in half when looking at who is open for submission, and then cut that in half again when assessing guidelines, and knock a few more off on length restrictions. This normally leaves a writer with 2 or 3 markets to send a submission at any one time. This isn't all that different to the way it has always been since the net became the main area to sell short fiction.

I suggest you don't just rely on Duotrope. Check multiple market guides as I've not found one that has all the markets listed (accept maybe mine...), but that's because I check lots of market guides.

Personally, short fiction is somewhere to hone my skills and pick up some writing credits while improving enough to move onto novels. Having a need to increase my ability to gain those credits due to shrinking markets is a challenge, but isn't a challenge a good thing to make us strive harder, which in turn makes us better writers?

As for the future model. I think when ereaders are sold everywhere, with inbuilt web access, the ezines will take off again. Electronic media will be the place to be. And people will always read. Book sales go up and down, but they never dive to really worrying levels.

The 20's had Hemingway and Faulkner, but we have Gardner, Polson, Sin, Eyberg, Caine, Ferris, Dowker, Shaw, Napier and Tomlinson - just to name a few (and in no particular order of merit), 2010-2020 will be huge!

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