Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I was at an Irish SF convention recently called Phoenix Con. In one of the panels, about magazine fiction, a fellow writer propounded the theory that anyone serious about writing should only submit to markets that pay professional rates. Albedo One has survived for sixteen years in part because it does not pay pro rates - we have the assets to cover about one full issue at pro rates and that's only because we're pretty flush at the minute. We feel we provide exposure and a voice for writers and artists. We get thousands of short story submissions a year form writers who would be proud to feature in our pages. Does that justify our existence?
I have sold stories all over the show and few of them were at the pro rate. But I'm proud of these stories and will continue to write and continue to accept payments that often amount to no more than a token.
My latest sale is to Nemonymous edited by the estimable Des Lewis where stories are published anonymously (I can tell you I've got a story in the Cern Zoo anthology but not what it is called). I love the idea, but it is probably not commercial - you'd have to ask Des. I feel this is where the small press is at its strongest - trying something different, experimenting, encouraging writers to try something different. Good on you, Des. And thanks for existing.


  1. Nice post. I will push news of the translation project.
    I agree with your point about small press having the freedom to experiment and take risks.

  2. Writers who hold a view such as the one expressed by the person at your panel are invariably naive and frequently only starting out as "professional" writers. Need it be pointed out that the professional paying spec fic markets are dying, and that even if one sold a story to Asimov's each month, it's a well known fact that this would barely earn you enough money to live on. Apart from the Big Three magazines (Asimov's, F&SF, Analog... arguably dying for a long time now) there are many magazines that start out with a big splash, paying pro rates, and dissapear after a few issues. Is it better for a writer starting out to be published in a magazine that pays pro rates (which in effect are pretty meagre) but then dissapears from existence and memory, or be published in mags paying lesser or even token rates, but which are long-established and known in the spec fic world, that have the attention of an established readership? I think the answer to that is pretty clear.

  3. I agree with Frank Ludlow.And then, even if a writer wishes to be paid at "professional"rates (this means in the 3Big American easy is it for him/her to succeed?
    Actually, it is almost impossible.
    In the summer, I wrote an article for Galaxies magazine in France, where I am a co-editor. The article was about British and Irish magazines and included the decline in circulation of the three Big mags in the US AND the difficulties for a new author to get published there.
    A few well known authors, such as John Scalzi, awarded by the Campbell Award and many other authors rewarded by the same award, simply refused to submit anything to the "3Big". They were aware that they had no chance to be published there. Jeff Vandermeer saw many of his stories rejected by the 3Emperors;one of those rejected stories won a World Fantasy Award. And it took more than 5 years to Will McIntosh to get published in Asimov's. McIntosh is a wonderful writer published in Albedo One, Interzone, Postscripts, Strange Horizons;nominated for a BSFA award. WHY did it take so long to Asimov's to discover him? Note that McIntosh still publishes much more in British magazines than in Asimov's.
    Even well-known, prestigious American writers like Norman Spinrad, Mike Resnick, Rudy Rucker and many others prefer publishing in web-site or printed "semi-prozines"than in the BIG 3.
    The "semi-prozines"follow bolder lines and encourage much more the publication of new writers and new styles. And a writer has also the right to publish in a magazine that s/he likes and where he/she feels comfortable.
    There is then no argument left to prefer the limited and narrow-minded "professional"markets, which don't seem to do so good either anyway.