(No, this blog is not about to turn into a sordid and prurient confessional.)
There was a conversation this morning on Twitter that involved users @jasonsanford, @SFDiplomat and @lavietidhar and myself. Beyond the interesting content (which I'll summarise in a minute), what struck me was that as more people became involved and were CC'ed in the comments, there was almost no room left in the 140 character tweets for any argumentation. This also highlighted for me how, although you *can* get sophisticated ideas across in this short form, it is also highly prone to misunderstandings and violent agreements.
This conversation began with the concern that many small short fiction venues have very few readers (except for hopeful authors, who to be fair should not be dismissed from the legitimate audience), leading to a perception that short fiction publication means very little to a writer's career/reputation. I wondered if the solution (in the fantasy world in which any of us could execute such strategies) would be to make publications more selective--and therefore smaller--or to reach out further to a new readership. A third option was offered: to stop considering short fiction as marking a "published author", but rather something that any hopeful can do. This led to a side argument, based I think upon some misunderstanding of the tone of that suggestion, about the value of short fiction, and this is about as far as the conversation got so far.
I think this is a valuable discussion (although not, of course, a new one), and I hope we'll get the chance to take it forward sometime. The question is not that short fiction is worthless, of course (at least, we'll not waste our time on anyone who argues that), nor that we should be policing who is a serious author or not. I'm not too concerned that people with lots of publications in tiny venues have resumés that look more impressive than they are (I think we can all tell the difference, even in the rare occasions when we need to look at such indicators). But if there really is a problem with the genre short fiction market being "saturated", then the solution is either to increase capacity (potential readers) or reduce flow (publish less stories). The first is more desirable, but obviously hard. The latter would involve more selectiveness (no bad thing), but is actually impossible, since the Internet allows anyone to publish anything and everything.
Selectiveness would have to take place at the point when we look at the resumé and decide what we think it means. We could apply rules such as the SFWA do: that only certain venues qualify as "professional" (although I'd prefer to see a rule involving how selective a venue is rather than how much they pay--or is the size of readership a better metric). Coming from an academic background, I instinctively cringe from all such metrics, knowing as academics do how meaningless they are. A self-published essay or blog post can be just as important and influential as a peer-reviewed and print-published chapter, and no metrics can take account of that. So we're back to where we started--we judge an "author" by what they write, not where they've been published. I mean, do we need to judge or label "published authors" at all, anyway?
Thursday 28 October 2010
Rachel Kendall writes:
HEAR YE! HEAR YE! Sein und Werden is rattling her chains, knocking on her coffin lid and screaming YOUR name. She wants out. She'll take a Pheonix-rising or a zombie-calling. Whether dead or alive, Sein is about to be re-generated, re-animated and re-frigerated for your visual pleasure. The deadline for submissions is 20th December 2010 with a plan to re-launch in January 2011.
Sein und Werden has been through a slew of changes, has tried on various different hats, and has enjoyed a number of dance partners since its inception in 2004. The only difference now is that from this forthcoming issue the zine will be numbered by its correct volume, beginning with vol 7 in 2011, as the 7th year Sein has been running (not counting the 2010 haitus) and this first issue (January to March) will be called, yes you've guessed it, issue 1. There will still be 4 issues a year , published in January, April, July and October both online and in print.
Tuesday 26 October 2010
Message forwarded for Brandon H Bell (feel free to recirculate):
Open Letter to my favorite bookseller/library (and a heads up to fellow readers!)
Hadley Rille Books is about to celebrate it's 5th year as a small press publisher. With anthologies edited by Gregory Benford and Jay Lake, this publisher is on the vanguard of genre fiction's "Indie scene".
And like Indie music, some of the best novels and story collections come from small publishers like Hadley Rille, who labor, certainly in hopes of financial success, but foremost out of love for and aspirations toward producing great genre fiction.
Here's a chance for you to give this small publisher a chance to shine.
November 29th marks Hadley Rille's 5th anniversary and on that day they are releasing The Aether Age: Helios anthology.
This is an exciting and innovative shared world/ Creative Commons licensed project that imagines an industrialized ancient world, circa 600-100BCE (with more surprises). It includes a detailed time-line, era quotes, and a book club guide to accompany the stories. Each story has an illustrated title page, including some by the cover artist M.S. Corley.
Please consider ordering the anthology in either trade paperback or hardcover versions. Available through Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and Follett (as well as direct from the publisher), fully refundable and with standard discounts. Set up an order directly with the publisher at firstname.lastname@example.org. Pre-orders available now.
One of YOUR fans...
ISBN # ----------------------------------------
978-0-9827256-7-2 Trade Paperback
Wednesday 20 October 2010
Terry Grimwood is circulating the following announcement:
While helping a friend clear out her parents' effects, recently, I stumbled on a tatty old pre-war tome called "The Monster Book for Girls". It was adorned with pictures of jolly school lasses wielding hockey sticks and was full of “thrilling adventure stories for girls”. I loved the title so much I’ve stolen it for a new Exaggerated Press anthology.
First it is not a book for teenagers or children.
What I’m looking for are stories inspired by the title, whatever (within the realms of decency, the title does, I’m afraid lend itself to a bit of nudge-nudge, wink-wink- sordidness) springs to mind and kick-starts the creative engine.
It doesn’t even have to be of the horror/fantastical genre. What is a monster anyway? Slipstream, thriller, romance, a mixture of genres would be interesting, whatever floats your (and my, of course) boat
Be warned; I don’t want (or like) teenage vampires, vampire angst or zombies or any other over-their-sell-by-date beasts. High-ish fantasy might be okay as long as it is original and features no grumpy dwarves or ethereal elves. Please don’t hurt children or gratuitously torture women (or men come to that).
Length: 5000 words max, but I will negotiate if absolutely necessary. Pays: Royalties only. Once publisher's initial expenses are covered, 100% of takings will be divided between the contributors. Submission deadline: 27th February 2011.
Submit as an RTF attachment to email@example.com