The first #GenreLitChat this past Thursday went well. The three authors who were on the panel (John Mantooth, Heidi Ruby Miller, and Nathan Ballingrud,) had a good time, and as the moderator I found myself surprised by how quickly the hour went. I had several questions I wish I'd had time to ask. All in all, it's not a bad thing to be left wanting more!
If you missed it, you can check out the Storify transcript below. You can also follow the #GenreLitChat hashtag via Twitter itself, or on Twubs.
Let me know what you think in the comments, and thank you--as always--for reading.
Greetings! Thanks to Beverly, and to you readers, membership on the Facebook Call For Submissions groups is growing every day.
In this week's column, I'd like to bring everyone's attention to the upcoming changes to the SFWA's membership requirements. At present, both the Horror Writers' Association (HWA) and SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) consider professional payment to be $0.05 per word. In order to become a member of the SFWA, one must have three paid sales to a Qualifying Professional Market, for a cumulative total of at least $250. As of July 1, 2014, in order to qualify as a professional market, the minimum payment will be raised to $0.06 per word. The HWA has not announced any plans to change their membership requirements. Note: Any sales made prior to June 30, 2014 at the old rates still qualify.
As with most changes, there will be positive and negative returns. The concern is, of course, that writers should always be paid, and the SFWA requirement for a Qualifying Market means that writers might be paid a little more. This is good news for writers. However, it may (somewhat) limit the number of Qualifying Markets and in effect make membership to the SFWA a little more exclusive. For more information, please visit the SFWA page.
In that spirit, here are a few markets that currently qualify for the new SFWA rates. Be aware, competition is stiff. These are very tough markets. Most have ongoing deadlines, and prepare for a long response time. And yes, sci-fi tends to pay better than fantasy or horror.
Daily Science Fiction. Pays $0.08 per word, 100-10K words. They're especially interested in shorter stories and flash fiction. http://dailysciencefiction.com/submit/story/guidelines (Note, Daily Science Fiction will be closed for submissions December 24, 2013 until January 2, 2014).
Cicada Magazine. Pays up to $0.25 per word. Children's/tween market. Read guidelines carefully, as they publish more than one magazine and have strict guidelines and a long response time. http://www.cicadamag.com/node/110 NOTE: This publisher has several markets. Another upcoming call is for Calliope's "The Life of the Vikings" theme (deadline December 27, 2013).
Now, heat up the computers and sharpen your pencils, because December is going to be a very busy month! Read guidelines carefully before you submit, and I hope some of these listings end up as a happy holiday surprise. Have a great holiday and I'll be back the first week of January with more.
Pro Rate ($0.05 per word) Paying Markets currently accepting fiction submissions:
Shimmer. Looking for "beautifully written speculative fiction with an emotional core." Hard sells: paranormal romance, sword and sorcery, hard SF, space opera. 4k range preferred but will take up to 7500 words. Also looking for artwork. No deadlines listed. http://www.shimmerzine.com/guidelines/fiction-guidelines/
Tesseracts 18. For Canadian writers only. Theme: Wrestling with the Gods (Faith in Sci-fi/Spec-fic). Max 5000 words, deadline December 31, 2013. Pays $50-150 for short stories and $20 for poetry. http://tesseracts18.com/tesseracts-18/
The Midnight Diner. Quarterly publication. Looking for hardboiled fiction, 3000-6000 words, with "a Christian slant." Not interested in hard sci-fi or sword and sorcery. Pays $60 for fiction, $40 for non-fiction, and $20 for poetry. Deadline December 31, 2013. http://www.themidnightdiner.com/submit-your-work/
Rite of Passage: Road to Nicodemus. Steampunk anthology to acompany a feature movie (must be set in their world, so follow guidelines carefully). 3k-10k words, pays $25 on publication. Deadline December 31, 2014. http://chroniclesofharriet.com/2013/10/16/get-ready/
Ruins Excavation Anthology. Hadly Rille Books. Looking for stories (Romance, Sci-fi, Historical, and Mainstream) with an Archaeology theme. Protagonist must be a woman of colour who is also an archaeologist, working in Ruins. 1500-6000 words, pays a token $20. Deadline January 31, 2014. http://ericreynolds.livejournal.com/100520.html
Good Mourning Publishing. Looking for romance stories set in a superhero universe (at least one love interest must be a superhero or villain). Original heroes only, no fan-fiction. Pays $30 and a paperback copy. Deadline December 31, 2013. http://www.goodmourningpublishing.com/call.html
Despumation. Looking for stories based on metal songs (be sure to read guidelines for "metal" definition), 3k-5k. Pays $10 and a contributor's copy. Deadline February 28, 2014. http://despumationpress.com/submissions/
Geek Force Five. I'm including these guys here because they just accepted one of my stories (yay, shameless self-promotion!). Royalty split, 10% of shared sales among five stories from the issue in which your story appears. Looking for speculative fiction (sci-fi, horror, noir, etc., and/or crossover mainstream fiction) with appeal to "geeks." Interests include music, film, pop culture. https://geekforcefive.submittable.com/submit
THE DARK CRYSTAL: Looking for an author to write a prequel novel (50,000 words +) set in the Dark Crystal world, set during the Gelfling Gathering. Major publisher contract, send in 7500-10,000 words. Deadline December 31, 2013. http://www.darkcrystal.com/authorquest/
Friends Of Merrill Speculative Short Fiction Story Contest. $5 entry fee. Speculative fiction stories, maximum 5000 words. Deadline February 15, 2014. First prize is $500 (Canadian). http://friendsmerrilcontest.com/guidelines/
Book Marketing without B.S. is a weekly publicity and marketing advice column for writers and other creators who prefer a realistic, clear, and no-nonsense approach. My goal is to help you cut through the bullshit with direct, understandable advice you won't be embarrassed to follow. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Want reviews? Of course you do! This means that you have to send review copies, and this can get expensive with numerous physical books to send. Many of you are paying for these directly or are with a small publisher whose budgets are as tight as your own. A few of you lucky devils will be with large publishers who furnish all review copies, whether physical or through NetGalley. In fact, this post may not be as useful for you if you're on a major publisher. Check back next week!
Anyhow. I digress.
For the rest of you, this means you're thinking about ebook review copies. For some writers this is a stressful idea, bringing on fears of piracy and the death of sales. First this post will look at how to prioritize physical vs. electronic review copies, and then I'll discuss piracy fears and why you probably shouldn't worry too much about it.
How should I prioritize who gets physical review copies and who gets ebook review copies? Generally it's good to prioritize this with a simple cost/benefit analysis. If a site or publication is higher-traffic or is heavily influential, seriously consider a phsyical copy--if that's their preference. Some actually will prefer an ebook. If it is a lower-traffic or a less influential site/publication, then it is most cost effective to see if they will accept an ebook version to review. This applies to comics as well as prose books. The final choice is between you, the reviewer, and your publisher; these ideas are simply decision-making tools.
You can determine priority by checking site traffic using a tool such as alexa.com to compare statistics among the places you want to review your book. A lower number is better (i.e. a higher rank), and if you can get sites better than a 500,000 rank, it's a great start. I can't suggest that you only decide with site statistics, however. You should be aware that some sites might have lower traffic ranking, but are influential. A good example of this is Weird Fiction Review. It's a site with strong influence among many authors and readers in genre circles, but its Alexa ranking is so-so at over 1.8 million. Still, it would be a plum spot if you wrote the type of things that they like. Try your best to strike the balance between web traffic stats and less measurable aspects of influence. And, as always, take the time to read submission policies, reviews, and articles so that you get a good feel for what the site is looking for. It always benefits you to ensure that it's a good fit for your work before you approach them.
One other note: if you send a physical review copy unsolicited, make sure it comes directly from you or your publisher, and includes a one-sheet. If you've corresponded with the person on the other end and they're expecting it, it becomes solicited and this is when you can consider having it shipped right from the source (without the one-sheet) if you're doing print-on-demand.
What about ebooks and piracy? First, let me be completely, unequivocally clear: I want creators to be paid for their work. If you don't get paid, I don't get paid. So read this with the understanding that I am firmly on the side of your intellectual property rights.
OK, all that out of the way, I want to say that piracy is not likely to be a big deal for a majority (though not all) writers and comic creators. Let me explain: chances are if you're looking for marketing advice you are in need of audience growth. Audience growth will result from reaching more readers. Reaching more readers happens with word-of-mouth and well-placed advertisements. Ads are really expensive, so the majority of your marketing, especially early on, will be reviews by professional reviewers, and reviews by readers who share their thoughts on Amazon, Goodreads, and other similar sites.
Reviewers to whom you send an electronic review copy are nearly all good, ethical people who will not share the ebook with anyone. The few who may leak it can't be helped. If the book gets out and gets read by people who then discuss it with others, some of those people will end up with a pirated version; but, some of them are going to buy your book. If you somehow are lucky enough to go viral on torrent sites, you're going to get more sales and more fame even with people illegally downloading your work. This will ultimately translate into more money for you down the road. And really, the chances of your book going viral are quite slim anyway, so your lost revenue is negligible, if anything at all.
One of the best ways to get more readers for your work is to keep writing. The more you write, the more you tend to sell. So focus as much of your energy on writing and creating as you can, and over time it is most likely that you will get better sales.
One other thought about piracy is that it's difficult to measure the impact. Are the people pirating your ebook the kinds of people who would have bought your book in the first place? It's impossible to say, really. I suspect that in many cases they wouldn't have bought it anyway. I know, I know. I don't have evidence, but going on the principles of word-of-mouth marketing and the effectiveness of samples as a sales tool, I think it's rational to conclude that over time a few pirated copies will ultimately benefit you.
So send review copies, ebook and paper, as you need. Don't worry about it. Don't fuss over DRM. (Unless, of course, you're with a larger publisher and don't have a choice. In that case you can use NetGalley, or send plenty of paper review copies that aren't out of your own pocket. Lucky devils indeed.) Keep those questions coming, and sign up to get my posts sent directly to your email by clicking here. Thanks for all the support!
Tonight don't forget to join #GenreLitChat with John Mantooth, Nathan Ballingrud, and Heidi Ruby Miller. Tomorrow is Calls for Submission #2.