SFWA Raises Pro Rate for Short Fiction to Eight Cents per Word

January 17, 2019

Science Fiction Writers of America just announced that they’re raising what they consider to be a minimum professional per-word rate from $0.06 to $0.08 per word, as of September 1st, 2019. The full announcement can be read here. I was excited about this change, just like I was excited to see them raise the rate from $0.05 to $0.06 back in 2014. The way I see it, SFWA is an advocacy group for writers and part of its mandate is to encourage publishers to pay a fair rate for genre fiction. But not everyone was as excited as I am. A writers forum I frequent on Facebook was filled with anguished comments about how SFWA keeps moving the goal post, and how this will only make it more difficult for the new writers to qualify for membership. So are they right? Am I now an out-of-touch elite, resting on my qualification laurels? I don’t think so. Let’s examine the arguments I’ve encountered against this change and then look at the list of affected markets.

  • Will this change will make it too difficult for new writers to qualify for SFWA membership?

Compared to 2018? Maybe. Historically? Definitely not. Thanks to the internet and print-on-demand technologies making publishing cheaper, there are more magazines and anthologies paying $0.08+ today than there were magazines paying $0.03 per word back in 2003. (SFWA raised the qualification rate from $0.03 to $0.05 in 2004.) SFWA has also made it easier to qualify for membership via other means in recent years, welcoming self-published authors and game writers.

  • Can magazines can’t afford to pay the princely sum of $0.08 per word, or will they just ignore the SFWA guidelines going forward?

Inflation is a thing. Everything goes up over time, and we can’t expect writers’ wages to remain the same. Back in the pulp days writers were paid at $0.01 per word, but guess what? $0.01 in 1954 money is an equivalent of $0.08 today. It’s true that some venues will ignore the SFWA guidelines, but that was already true at $0.06/word. Interzone still pays a British penny (roughly $0.015 per word) today. But you hardly ever see venues offer $0.05/word now because the goalpost is so close. I think we will see many, though not all, pro paying venues adjust upward a little.

Here’s the list of qualifying short fiction venues that appears on the SFWA qualification page. Keep in mind that ANY market not listed here that pays the minimum rate will also help qualify an applicant for SFWA, so this is not an exhaustive list. Also for the purpose of this list I’m disregarding venues that are defunct or at least have not sought submissions in the past 1+ year.

Venues that already pay $0.08+, for at least some of the fiction they acquire:

Analog
Asimov’s
Cicada
Clarkesworld
Cricket
Daily Science Fiction
Diabolical Plots
Fireside
Flash Fiction Online (* flat rate per story; some will fall under $0.08/word under current rates)
Future Affairs Administration
Highlights
Lightspeed
Nature
Nightmare
Odyssey
Strange Horizons
Terraform
Tor.com
Uncanny
Unidentified Funny Objects anthologies

Venues currently paying $0.06 or $0.07 per word

Apex
Arc Manor/Galaxy’s Edge Magazine
Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Dreaming Robot Press
Cast of Wonders
Compelling
Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores
Escape Pod
Flame Tree Publishing
F&SF
Grantville Gazette
MZB (Sword & Sorceress)
OSC’s Intergalactic Medicine Show
Podcastle
Pseudopod
Zombies Need Brains anthologies

Not specified in guidelines

Chaosium
Grim Oak Press
Star Citizen Jump Point Magazine

That’s 20 markets currently paying $0.08+ and 16 markets at $0.06-$0.07, with three more I couldn’t find pay rate data for. It will be interesting to see if and how the pay rate landscape changes based on SFWA’s announcement.

#SFWAPro

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StarShipSofa Podcast Open Submission Window

June 17, 2015

starshipsofa-logo

StarShipSofa is one of the most respected science fiction podcasts in the business, and up until now they’ve solicited all of their material directly. So it’s kind of a big deal that, for the first time ever, associate editor Jeremy Szal is holding an open submission window.

He’s looking for previously-published science fiction stories which have not been produced elsewhere as a podcast. There’s only a brief submission window, so send him something soon if you want to be a part of this iconic ‘cast.

Link to Jeremy’s original post.

#SFWAPro

 

 

 


Market Report: Sci Phi Journal

November 18, 2014

sfj

The following is an interview with Jason Rennie, editor of Sci Phi Journal.

Click here for detailed guidelines.

Genres: Any speculative stories with a philosophy bend

Length: 1000+ words

Reprints: Yes

Pay rate: $0.05 per word up to $250 (5000 words) for originals, $0.025 per word for reprints

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How frequently is Sci Phi Journal published and where can the issues be found?

Currently the plan is to try to do monthly publication, but I may move to every 6 weeks. The main issue is money, I pay for the stories (5c a word plus 5c a word bonus if we sell 5k copies in 90 days), but currently the magazine is still running at a loss. If I can get the magazine to at least break even you can expect to see it come out monthly.It is available through Amazon, Castalia House and Smashwords in Kindle, MOBI, EPUB and PDF.

To your mind, what makes the short story a “philosophical” story suitable for the magazine, as opposed to not? Doesn’t almost every good science fiction story ask some of the fundamental questions about the nature of existence and mind that are typically associated with philosophy?

Every good science fiction story will ask questions of a philosophical nature because philosophy is the “love of wisdom” and it seeks to ask the big questions of “life, the universe, and everything”. So anything potentially is a good candidate. I got started doing Sci Phi stuff as a podcast (http://sciphishow.com), but that show tends to use movies and television for its inspiration. I think the particularly philosophical sci phi tends to have a “big idea” in the background that the characters are interacting with, or struggling with, as opposed to stories about what the characters are up to. I guess it can be difficult to explain.

If you could discover and publish any one science fiction story first, what would it be?

I think I may already have done this. In Issue #1 Josh Young sent me the story Domo and on the strength of the story a small publisher asked for his contact details and is working with him to publish a collection of his short stories and a novel. It was exciting that I was able to be part of making that happen. It would be great if I could repeat that. It is always a good feeling when you can be a part of that.

What other authors and stories or novels are among your favorites? Whose work would you love to feature in your magazine if you could?

So many to choose from. One of the most “sci phi” authors I’ve ever read is Robert J. Sawyer, and I’ve interviewed him in the past and approached him about a story but he doesn’t do shorts anymore, sadly. There are lots of authors whose work I love, it is so difficult to narrow it down. I’ve approached a few different “big name” authors and have met with some success. John C. Wright has been in both issues so far and it was good working with him.I really enjoy the work of Joe Haldeman, Larry Correia, Mathew Mather (Atopia Chronicles is perfect sci phi), I’m sure I could just go on and on.Probably my all time favorite series is by the author Harry Turtledove, his World War and Colonization series of books is among my favorite of all time. I’ve enjoyed a lot of his other stuff too, but that is the book series I recommend to everybody. I should approach him about writing something, it can’t hurt to try my luck, can it?

Your guidelines ask for stories of 1000+ words, yet flash fiction seems (to me) like the perfect medium for the sort of stories you might want. Why did you choose not to consider flash?

I’m actually willing to consider pretty much anything. A few authors have approached me about shorter and longer pieces and I’ve bought one of them so far. I should probably amend the guidelines, I’m still learning how to do all of this.

(Editor’s note: Since this interview was conducted, Mr. Rennie posted on his site that he welcomes flash fiction submissions)

How about humor? Would you consider a funny story for publication?

I think I would. I have a piece coming up in Issue #3 or #4 that had me laughing the whole way through. Comedy can be difficult to write and I’m guessing mixing comedy and philosophy might be tricky, but if someone reading this succeeds I’d love to take a look.

How strict is your definition of “science fiction”? Would you consider fantasy or slipstream stories?

My definition of “science fiction” is probably about as loose as you could imagine. I’m not sure how well fantasy as a genre will lend itself to the philosophy part of the equation but there is no real restriction on submissions. The philosophy component is more important than strict genres I think. I think science fiction, broadly understood, lends itself well to the sort of thought experiments that make something sci phi. It is a loose restriction though.

What rights are you asking for when you buy a story? (Length of the period of exclusivity, audio rights, etc.)?

12 months exclusive from publication date with an option to include it in a “Best of” collection in print or audio during that time.

In the guidelines you ask for the Food for Thought questions to be included. Can you describe in a bit more detail what you’re looking for — should it literally be a set of questions? A short essay? And why not ask authors whose work is accepted to do this rather than asking all submitters?

It varies from submission to submission. Normally the “Food For Thought” section at the end of a story is a short essay with some questions in it that make explicit some of the themes found in the story. I normally write the section myself but I have used ones authors have submitted. Where I have used them I have included them in the story word count. It can just be a paragraph or a few questions submitted with the story.The purpose of asking for it was to give me some indication as to the idea the authors was trying to explore. I usually read them before the story itself so I know what ideas to look for in it. It also indicates the author has considered this question before submitting. The questions submitted probably won’t be used directly in most cases but they do provide insight into the story being told and make it easier for me to assess the story for fit for the magazine.

What made you decide to launch this publication? Have you been involved in the industry previously as either an editor or an author?

I’ve been doing a podcast called The Sci Phi Show on and off since 2004 and this originally started as a spin off idea from that. I’ve only ever been “in the industry” as a reader until this. I did try this idea a number of years ago and sold a total of 7 copies, it sort of killed the idea dead at the time, but it seemed worth trying again.I’ve tried writing short fiction in the past and I’m horrible at it. I should probably stick to editing. I’m still learning an enormous amount but it is fascinating and I’m enjoying it.

Does the fact that you’re based in Australia make any part of your job running the magazine more difficult? Easier? Or is it largely irrelevant in the Internet age?

It probably matters in ways I don’t recognize yet. I’d like to go to conventions and meet people and that sort of thing and all of the big ones are a long expensive plane ride away. So Australia is a problem for doing things in person, but other than that it isn’t really a difficulty except for timezones.Thanks to the internet and e-books the barriers to entry as a publisher are so low and publication and distribution are so easy that I don’t think there is any great hurdle there.

What are you excited about most in regards to Sci Phi Journal in 2015?

Excited or nervous? The magazine is still getting up to speed and I hope to get to the point of breaking even or better. As strange as it might sound, the most exciting prospect is having to declare the magazine as a source of income on a tax return. That sounds rather mundane, but it would indicate that the magazine is running at a profit and people are enjoying it. What more could I want?I hope to keep publishing interesting stories and I have some ideas for some “value added” stuff for the magazine that I would like to try. The whole thing is still a big experiment and a learning opportunity at this point, so perhaps the most exciting part is that it is still all an adventure.

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If you’re an editor of a new speculative magazine or anthology paying semi-pro or professional rates and wish to be interviewed for the Market Report column, please contact me.

 

 


Market Report: Grimdark Magazine

June 11, 2014

The following is an interview with Adrian Collins, editor of the recently-announced pro-paying market for gritty fantasy and SF, based in Australia.

Click here for detailed guidelines.

Genres: Epic Fantasy, SF. Stories must be “grimdark” (Gritty, dark style reminiscent of Game of Thrones, Warhammer 40K, etc.)

Length: 1500-4000 words

Reprints: No

Pay rate: $0.05 per word (increasing to $0.06 per word as of July 1). Payment in $AU. (Currently $AU1 = $US 0.94)

 

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 You mention on the site that the inaugural issue of the magazine will lunch by September. What sort of publishing schedule do you expect to adhere to afterward? How many stories will be published per issue, and what format(s) will the magazine be available in? Will the stories be available to read online for free, or will they be distributed as a for-purchase e-zine?

We’re going to get knee-deep in grit once a quarter. There may be an anthology at the end of it. We’ll start out with three stories, one interview, and one review per issue.
So far the formats we’re going for will be available electronically (as an ebook and also via an app we’re currently at the wire frame stage of developing), and in print. Further formats will depend on how much we can achieve in this first year, but we’ll announce those as they come. We’ll be distributing the issues as a purchase only product.

The authors you mentioned among your favorites are generally known for writing long. However, you cap the submissions at the relatively humble 4000 words. Could you talk a little bit about the thought process behind the specific word count range (1500-4000), and perhaps name a few short stories that size published elsewhere that you would have bought, given the chance?

The limit was a mixture of budgeting for sustainability and a firm belief that a great deal can be achieved in a 4,000 word short story. I have forty or so sitting in the inbox right now as prime examples. While I’m not sure on the exact word counts, have a look at some of the works in Dangerous Women and the upcoming Rogues, or the Swords and Sorcery anthology (Joe Abercrombie has one in each). Some eclipse the limit, such as GRRM’s, but others would be under.

On the flip side of that, why not consider flash fiction? There’s some really great dark fare under 1000 words out there.

That’s a fair call. I think our guidelines might need a bit of updating.

The guidelines specifically mention medieval fantasy and science fiction. But what about gritty urban fantasy, steampunk, or mild horror? Would you want to see any of that on submission?

At some point, yes. Right now, for the first release, I’ll be sticking to the subject matter that appeals the most, having the highest number of big-hit authors.

While most readers and writers have a pretty good idea of what grimdark fantasy is (thanks, GRRM!), could you go into a bit more detail as to what sort of science fiction stories you would like to see?

Growing up I was a huge 40K fan. I loved the grim slave-like lives of the Imperial citizens and the bloody battles of the guardsmen. The Horus Heresy, Gaunt’s Ghosts, and Eisenhorn series were three that I really enjoyed. Give me depressing settings with anti-heroes I can’t put down. Give me individuals trying to make the best out of humanity at its worst. Or don’t. Come up with something better. Show me Grimdark Sci-Fi like I’ve never imagined it before. I’ve already received some amazing stories that are beginning to expand my appreciation for the sub-genre.

Can you share a little about yourself? Any previous editorial experience, or publishing history as an author? What made you launch Grimdark Magazine?

My professional background is in business: process development, project management, website content creation and management, proposal and tender writing. I’ve always read anything I could get my hands on. Grimdark fantasy and sci-fi has managed to hold me captivated ever since I read David Gemmell’s Rigante series at uni. As an author, I’ve been submitting to paying markets for a year now and have become well accustomed to the rejections and “nearly there” emails that are the less fun part of running a magazine. I’ve also self published two books. I like to call them my learning books. Those are the two that should have stayed in the desk drawer, but I wouldn’t hand back the experience of doing it if I had the option.

Grimdark Magazine is the realisation of something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. It’s the result of my personal obsession in the genre and the realisation I couldn’t find a pro-paying market for it. Now felt like to right time to give Grimdark Magazine a go, while my personal commitments in the way of children and mortgages are few.

I love that you’re committed to paying authors a reasonable wage, but can you go into a bit more specifics about the rights you’re asking for. The web site just says exclusive rights for a year; does that mean you’ll be wanting foreign language rights? Audio rights? Will you make exceptions for Best Of anthologies?

Paying authors a pro wage just feels right. Up front my bank account may not agree with that, but I’ll go to sleep with a smile on my face when I pay authors properly for the right to sell little pieces of their their imaginations to a hungry audience. At this point we won’t be after foreign language rights, but we will hold on to audio rights. Provided the best of anthologies are printed three months after our publication, there’s no problem with those works being re-snapped up, nor a contract being entered into prior to that three month period ending.

What sort of marketing and promotion do you plan on doing to get the stories you publish in front of as many readers as possible?

As anyone who’s marketed themselves will know, this is always the hard part. We’re not an imprint of Gollancz or Tor, and can’t ride those coat tails. It’ll have to be a lot of hard work across a lot of platforms and a cracking first issue to build reader trust. That, and perhaps a piece or two from some of the premier authors in our genre.

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If you’re an editor of a new speculative magazine or anthology paying semi-pro or professional rates and wish to be interviewed for the Market Report column, please contact me.


Market Report: Fantasy Scroll Magazine

April 5, 2014

fantasyscroll

#SFWAPro

Click here for detailed guidelines

Genres: Speculative Fiction

Length: 1 – 5000 words

Reprints: Yes

Pay rate: $0.01 per word ($5 min for microfiction, $10 min for flash fiction)

Fantasy Scroll Magazine is a new semi-pro market launching later this month. My story “Seven Conversations in Locked Rooms” is in the first issue line-up, along with many other authors. I interviewed the zine’s editor-in-chief Iulian Ionescu.

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When does the first issue of Fantasy Scroll Magazine launch? What sort of publishing schedule will you adhere to?

In our first year we aim to publish four quarterly issues, with the first one scheduled for mid-April. As a fledgling publication we didn’t want to stretch ourselves too thin in the first year; we want to establish a good process, a steady readership, and grow our presence in the social media. We want to analyze the data from year one and use that to tweak our efforts in the years to come.

During the following years, we will focus on growing the number of issues, hoping to get to a monthly publication by year three. This is a conscientious decision that works hand-in-hand with our other goal, which is to become a pro-market who can pay writers what they deserve.

I am also planning to issue an annual anthology containing the best stories from that year, and the proceeds from those publications will be used to achieve the goals above.

What niche do you expect Fantasy Scroll to fill among the speculative markets? What will make a Fantasy Scroll story different from what’s being published elsewhere?

I actually don’t want this magazine to be labeled into a very narrow niche, and that’s not to say that we won’t be focused at all. I gave a lot of thought to the magazine’s mission statement, and it came to me after many nights of staring at the blank ceiling at night. The mission statement says that the magazine will publish high-quality, entertaining, and thought-provoking speculative fiction.

The high-quality aspect of it leads the sentence because we are going to constantly look for those diamonds in the rough, those gems that rarely come through the slush pile. And when we find one, we’ll work closely with the author to make sure we bring that story to its best possible shape. So far, I have to say, the experience of working with writers one-on-one has been extremely positive, and a definite win-win. Being a writer myself, I knew this to be true, but now I can confirm it from the dark side (read editor’s desk): writers are awesome (and very modest.)

Second of all, we want these stories to be entertaining. I want to publish something that can drive lovers of speculative fiction to turn off their TV, shut down their Facebook, and sit down to read just because they enjoy it. And when they’re done, I want them to call their friends and tell them how much they loved it. If I can accomplish that, then I’ll call this magazine a success.

Lastly, we are looking for thought-provoking stories, the kind of stories that linger in your brain long after you’ve done reading them. I want people to feel the same way as ten-year old me felt when I first read “The Invisible Man,” and for days and nights I kept thinking what if?, is it possible?, can it be?

If I could turn this upside-down, I’d say that my goal is to publish stories that entertain, make you think, and touch the soul on an emotional level – and that is what I call a quality read.

During our Kickstarter Campaign, in order to entice the readers and let them know about the kind of stories they would see in our magazine, we launched a teaser issue that includes two sample stories. I invite you to read them.

Despite the magazine’s name, you are open to science fiction. What about horror, slipstream, any other stories that can’t be strictly defined as SF or fantasy?

In the magazine’s description I declare that we accept fantasy, science fiction, horror, and paranormal stories. This really opens it up to a very wide area of speculative fiction. I think the most important aspect here is the speculative element. I want that to permeate the story – I don’t want to have a regular story where an alien pokes his head at the end and says hello. The unusual must ooze from the story.

This, of course, puts a hold on some of the horror stories, because I am definitely not looking for the next Texas Chainsaw Massacre story. What’s funny is that I LOVE and enjoy watching gory, slasher movies, partly to annoy my wife, but I truly HATE reading those stories.

Just to show the confusion that exists among writers as well: I’ve seen a lot of stories in our slush that were qualified by the writers as horror, but I considered them dark fantasy, and stories that were qualified as fantasy, but I considered them pure horror.

I definitely accept slipstream; I actually like to see stories that nicely break the genre boundaries and take me to an unexpected place. The weirder the better.

We recently accepted some stories that border literary fiction, but the speculative element was strong enough that we felt they were appropriate.

Will you publish lighter or outright humorous stories? What sort of humor works or doesn’t work for your tastes?

I definitely don’t want the magazine to be totally dark; there will be some humor sprinkled here and there. I enjoy humorous stories, like the kind included in your UFO anthologies. The problem I find with humor, and verified statistically through the magazine’s slush pile, is that good speculative humor is hard to write, especially when it starts to be stretched out. As a successful writer who published a lot of funny stories, you probably know this better than me, but here are my thoughts about it.

Some of the funny stories we’ve accepted are very short—they made the point, made us laugh, and moved on. Those that started out nicely, but lingered on, trying too hard to be funny for a long time, eventually got nowhere. The problem is I like a story with a plot. What I’ve seen in some funny stories is writers mistaking being funny for plot. To have a truly funny story the writer has to do double-duty – the author not only has to create convincing characters that play in a good plot, but humor must also pervade through that somehow.

At the end of the day, we are looking for high-quality speculative stories, and if they happen to be funny too, we’ll never say no.

What’s your slush process? Will you read all the submissions yourself, or rely on slush readers? What is your estimated response time?

I think any publication is as good as its team, and I am working with a nice group of professionals who read slush, provide feedback, edit, and proofread. I read a lot of the stories, and definitely all of those that pass the initial slush process. At the end of that process we have editors that work directly with the authors to make sure the stories are in the best possible shape for publication.

Being a writer myself, I know how important it is to get a quick response from a magazine, and therefore I try to send all rejections as soon as possible. Our general rejection period has been about 10 days, and my goal is to shorten that even more.

For acceptances the timing might be a little longer, especially if the stories require work, but I am doing my best to notify the writers that their story is in a shortlist. We aim to notify writers of their acceptance or shortlist within 30 days.

How many stories or words of fiction do you anticipate publishing per issue?

We started boldly with twelve stories per issue, or approximately 25,000 words (we accept lengths from 100 through 5000 words). The first year will be a market test for us as well. We’ll run reader surveys and polls, we’ll analyze the traffic and reading patterns of our magazine readers, and take the pulse of the social media.

Based on these results, in the years to come, we will probably alter the content to match the market demand. One of our goals is to become a pro-market, so that analysis will also come into play when deciding how many words to include in future issues.

You are offering a combination of original stories and reprints from established authors. This is a model several new publications have adopted, most notably Galaxy’s Edge. Is this a long-term plan for FS, or is it just the way to fill the early issues, with more and more original fiction in future volumes?

We do accept reprints, but most recently we have restricted the reprints only to those that are not still currently available online for free. One of our core goals is to become a platform for new, unpublished authors, looking to launch their writing careers. From that perspective, our magazine will always include a majority of new, original content. But, being a reader and a fan of the genre myself, I see it as an homage to my favorite writers to be able to include their works in my magazine. I take pride and joy in sharing their work with our readers, resurfacing old works in front of new eyes.

I think one of the hardest parts of editing a magazine is putting the pieces together, matching the stories inside an issue for the best overall experience. Grouping reprints and originals under one roof is a part of that process. Whereas we will continue to accept reprints, our emphasis will always be on original works.

There’s lots of non-fiction scheduled for the first issue, such as interviews and reviews. Are you looking for non-fiction submissions too, or will that be handled internally?

For the time being the interviews are conducted by me personally, and I intend to continue doing that for one reason only: I really enjoy it. However, I will open the gates to interview requests from writers and agents, and an acceptance will depend on our schedule and the nature of the interviewee’s work—it needs to somehow be related to speculative short fiction.

As a last minute thing, I introduced one movie review and one book review per issue, and I’d like to continue doing that. So far, I am reaching out and requesting permissions to reprint, but in the future, I will probably open the submissions up to some of these non-fiction categories. This will not be our main focus, obviously, but I do see it as nice added bonus.

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Fantasy Scroll Magazine is currently on Kickstarter. Please check out their crowdfunding campaign!

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If you’re an editor of a new speculative magazine or anthology paying semi-pro or professional rates and wish to be interviewed for the Market Report column, please contact me.


Market Report: Waylines

January 30, 2014

Click here for detailed guidelines.

Genres: Speculative Fiction

Length: 1000-6000 words

Pay rate: $0.06 per word

Market report column usually features brand-new markets, but Waylines, which has been around for a year now, is in the midst of a crowdfundung campaign to help fund it’s second year, and I would like to take an opportunity to promote and support this fine market by featuring them here. To that end, I have interviewed editor-in-chief Darryl Knickrehm. In a funny bit of coincidence, I’m running this post on his birthday. Happy birthday, Darryl! #SFWAPro

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You’re based in Japan. How does the Japanese SF/F fandom differ from the British and American communities?

In Japan, the sci-fi and fantasy communities are kind of rolled in with the anime community (or the general ‘otaku’). While there is an active SF fiction community here, my Japanese isn’t really good enough to read a whole novel, so I’m not familiar with that side of sci-fi in Japan. I think the more well-known sci-fi here comes from manga (Japanese comics). Visual stories, like comics, don’t have the stigma here that they do back in the States. Manga are stories for everyone, and practically everyone reads them. While series like Gantz and Attack on Titan are really popular here (being made into animation and feature films), those aren’t really my cup of tea. My personal favorite is Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo.

There are a number of English-language science fiction writers who are perhaps more popular in Russia than they are in their home countries (kind of like David Hasselhoff is more popular in Germany than he is in the US). Who are some of the most popular English-language SF/F writers in Japan? Any surprises on that list?

To the best of my knowledge there aren’t any David Hasselhoffs in the sci-fi fiction world here, but like I said, I’m not good enough at Japanese to really be considered a reader here. Translations of the sci-fi gods are easy to find in any book store, writers like Dick and Bradbury. And the larger bookstores often have a decent imported book section, usually carrying a healthy selection of the most current spec fiction authors. I have a feeling, however, a majority of the books being read are by Japanese authors. I rarely see someone reading a ‘western’ book unless they are studying English. The are the rare exceptions, like “The Da Vinci Code”, Harry Potter, and other international phenomenons.

What are some of the most unexpected lessons you’ve learned from running Waylines for the first year? Will you change anything for year two, and how?

There were a number of things that both David and I were unprepared for in the first Year of Waylines. One was the amount of submissions that we received. We both expected a large amount of submissions, as we had researched how other online magazines were run. But we didn’t quite expect the amount that we ended up getting — well over 2000. And since one of the things we wanted to do with Waylines was to provide some feedback to readers, it made things a bit of a challenge to say the least. For Year Two, we’re preparing ahead. We’ll be making the submission windows smaller, so that we can better deal the deluge of stories. Also, Dawn Bonnano, Waylines’ new Managing Editor, has proven to be very organized, ahead of the curve, and has been creatively coming up with solutions the last few months. We’re ready for all those wonderful subs!

The one thing that was most difficult for me, was the amount of artwork I had to do. I guess I just never thought about it before we started, but I had to draw 6 covers, illustrate 14 stories, and arrange 18 film page designs. And I’m just learning how to do this! It’s been a great experience though. I’ve been studying art in my free time since I was a kid, but doing the magazine has forced me to advance rapidly, which is great. For Year Two, I was originally hoping to open submissions for cover illustrations (and I still may), but nixed the idea as it would make the budget even larger than it is. I’ve also been trying to get ahead of the game and have done a number of illustrations in the past 6 months which I may be able to use for covers.

How would you describe a “Waylines” short story? What do you feel differentiates what you publish from stories that can be found in other magazines?

Our stories seem to diverge in two directions: really dark, or really light. I guess that is a direct influence of the material that has had a huge influence on me (things like the original Twilight Zone and the original Heavy Metal Magazine). And I think that is what makes our choices slightly different from other magazines out there — Waylines is the baby of US, European, Japanese and British Sci-fi in every format, from novels to films to comics. So it’s a bit of a strange place. It’s a bit of a walk on the weird side. There’s only one place like the Waylines.

It’s taken a while to get the Waylines vibe down for stories, however. When we started, David and I knew what we wanted but just couldn’t put it into words. But there have been a number of things I’ve always looked for in stories. First, and most important, is a good story. The story needs to be structured in a creative way, yet needs to keep the plot moving. Equally important is the concept. It needs something that is intriguing, entertaining, or moving. Lastly, and certainly not least, is a certain depth to what’s being said with the story. If it has some kind of insight in to the human condition, society or greater issues, then, well, it’s going to be right up our alley.

Do you publish lighter, or outright humorous stories? What sort of humor works or doesn’t work for your tastes?

Humor is an important part of Waylines. From Jeremy Sim’s “Fleep” in Issue 1 to Andrew S. Williams’ “Best Regards” in our last issue, I love to have a little bit of humor in every issue. But I don’t think every type of humor is a right fit for Waylines. I’ve always thought timing is what makes things funny, so low-brow humor or obnoxious jokes probably won’t go over to well in our Slush Rooms. Things that are subdued, subtle, or dry-witted might be a good fit. Things that go to the limits of the opposite direct, things that are way over the top, but also jab at a certain topic, are perfect for us too.

Your editorial staff is spread all over the world. Who else is on the Waylines team? How do all of you collaborate to put the magazine together?

Technology is great. Because of it Waylines has a dedicated staff around the globe. From our headquarters here in Japan, to The States and all the way to England, we are everywhere (our ulterior motive is world domination, after all). And because of email and Facebook we can stay in touch, talk about stories, and do everything else we need to do to get Waylines out on time each issue. Ironically, I’ve not actually met any of the other staff! Man, I can’t wait for transporters to be invented.

For Year Two, our staff has expanded and decreased, shifted and stayed as is. For one, David has sadly left the magazine. So I’ll be handling the editor-in-chief position alone. Dawn Bonnano, has moved up from a first reader to the Managing Editor. She started out on Issue 6 and has done an amazing job so far. Year Two will be even better I’m sure. Also, Beth Cato has moved up from the first reader ranks to becoming our first Poetry Editor.

And last, and certainly not least, is Alisa Alering, in charge of The Writers Room. She’ll be back again, along with the rest of our first readers (plus 2 more, coming soon).

What’s your slush process, and what is your estimated response time?

Stories go to a First Reader. If the piece has something that we might be interested in, then it gets sent up to the 2nd Round. I then take a read through all the stories there and the ones that really pique my interest go up to the Final Round. From there, the 3 stories that go into an issue are chosen. Our goal is to read first round stories within 2 weeks and let the author know if we are interested in the story or not. If the story is bumped up to the next round, we let the author know and hold on to the story for a few more weeks. We like to have a decision on most stories within 30 days.

Is there anything you wish you saw more of among the submissions (Be specific — “more great stories” isn’t a valid answer! 🙂 )

I’d love to see more space-related stories. Not space operas as such but stories of exploration, either in science or in the soul. Something like The Message Between the Words by Grayson Bray Morris. I’d also love to see more unusual fantasy tales. Think Videodrome or Cronenberg-level weirdness.

Other than Waylines, what other projects are you working on currently?

I have big plans this year. First off, I’m releasing The Citizens of Oblivion series. TCoO is a series of dystopian novellas I’ve been working on for the past 5 years that chronicle the fall/rebirth of a utopian city in a distant future. The first novella, In Dreams, was released on Jan 14 to Amazon and other outlets. The next installment, Sympathy for the Devil, is coming out on March 3 and the other books in the series will be released in 3 month intervals after that. More details about the series can be found at http://citizensofoblivion.com.

In addition to TCoO, I’m working on various SF illustrations, hoping to build up my portfolio. I’m also trying to get back to the two novels I’m working on: one a Japanese horror tale about a haunted tunnel in an isolated country town; the other is the epic, novel length sequel/conclusion of The Citizens of Oblivion chronicle. And lastly, I’m planning on releasing The Adventures of Squid Sensei, a bizarre/humorous comic about a squid that travels to Japan to teach English.

Which, based on the “author photo” you provided for this post, must be an autobiography! Thanks for answering my questions, Darryl, and Happy Birthday again!

darryl

A filmmaker now exploring novel-writing and illustration, Darryl has 8 short films under his belt. In 2013, in addition to co-founding Waylines Magazine, Darryl was a finalist in The Illustrators of the Future. Twice. At the beginning of this year he released the first book in his dystopian series, The Citizens of OblivionIn Dreams. For more information on his current projects, check out dariru.com or his blog.


Market Report: The Dark

August 6, 2013

8/27/13 Update: Stories under 1000 words are no longer considered. Sean Wallace has joined the editorial team.
8/25/13 Update: Please wait at least 1 week after receiving a rejection to send another submission.
8/18/13 Update: Mr. Fisher is no longer considering reprints for “The Dark.” Please send original submissions only.

Click here for detailed guidelines.

Genres: Dark science fiction & fantasy, magical realism

Length: Up to 5000 words (query for longer)

Pay rate: $0.05/word

Rights: First North American Serial Rights

Editor: Jack Fisher

The Dark is a new magazine from an experienced editor Jack Fisher. The magazine’s web site is not up yet as of this writing, but he is already accepting submissions and is responding promptly. There’s an IndieGoGo campaign to help raise additional funds for the magazine.

Mr. Fisher answered some questions about The Dark, below:

#SFWApro

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You’ve been an editor and publisher before, when you ran Flesh & Blood magazine over 10 years ago. What prompted you to start a new magazine now? Why start a brand-new publication instead of resurrecting Flesh & Blood?

I’ve been mulling the idea of “coming back” for a few years now. I missed the work, the scene, the people. F&B had its run as F&B – it was time to start something fresh and new.

In your IndieGoGo campaign you describe _The Dark_ as the “dark fantasy and dark SF magazine” that is “not necessarily horror.” What, in your opinion, separates dark SF/F from horror?

I believe there are many variations of horror. What may be “horrific” to some, may not be to others. I so happen to like the softer side of horror, the more subtle horror. Like the supernatural, for example, or anything with a dark bend to it, not necessarily blood-and-gut horror.

Can you name a few published short stories you would have loved to discover first and print in The Dark, given the opportunity?

I’ve been out of the field for so long, I really can’t say. I had been reading a lot of China Meiville’s work (I especially loved his short stories in “Looking For Jake: Stories”), and a lot of mainstream, non-genre stuff.

What’s your take on flash fiction? Do you enjoy very short stories, and do you anticipate accepting that length for The Dark or do you prefer longer tales?

I think that flash fiction can be very powerful if done right. Those little stories have the power to pack a lot of punch.

Will you consider dark humor?

No, I have no desire to laugh when reading dark fiction.

Will you consider reprints that are more than a year old but are still available on the web site of the original publication?

Yes, that is fine, but it should be noted that despite considering them, they’ll still be a hard sell. They’ll have to be exceptional.

What’s your slush process? Will you read all the submissions yourself, or rely on slush readers/associate editors? You’ve been responding very quickly to the early wave of submissions. Do you expect to be able to maintain that pace in the future?

I read everything myself. If I’m on the fence with something, I reach out to others for their opinions. Sean Wallace of Prime Books is one of my go-to-men, for example. He provides valuable feedback and opinion. I try to keep up on submissions as they come in otherwise I will drown. I expect to maintain swift turn-around’s.

So far, is there any one thing submitting authors commonly get wrong? What is it, and how should they fix it?

Study the guidelines, study the magazine. I have a precise vision and idea in mind, and I think I make this crystal clear in my guidelines. You will also see this reflected in the fiction I buy.

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If you’re an editor of a new speculative magazine or anthology paying semi-pro or professional rates and wish to be interviewed for the Market Report column, please contact me.