F&SF’s Writing Workshop

I’ve been asked what my opinion is about the fact that Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine will soon be offering an online workshop. It’s an workshop which offers an interesting twist: for a currently unspecified amount of cash, aspiring writers can workshop with noted SF editor Gardner Dozois — who, if he takes a shine to a story from the workshop, can slide it into the magazine. Dozois can do this up to three times a year, apparently.

This sounds like a good deal for newbie writers hopeful for mentorship and publication, but those of us who are firm believers in Yog’s Law (“Money should flow toward the author”) could quite reasonably note there is a problem here, i.e., it sure looks like writers paying money for access to publication, instead of getting paid for their labor. Compounding this problem is the current lack of real information on the workshop, including apparently any explicit notation that the workshop participants whose work is selected for publication will get compensated for their scribbling efforts.

Fortunately, there’s a simple and easy way for F&SF to avoid the appearance of being skeezy folks looking to screw newbie writers, which is, obviously, for F&SF to pay the writer of any workshop story that Dozois elevates to publication the same rate the magazine pays any of its other writers. This compensates the writer, and resolves any major ethical concern that this workshop is a process for gulling the unschooled.

In fact, I’m sure F&SF was always planning to do this; it’s  just that in all the excitement and hullabaloo, editor Gordon Van Gelder somehow managed to neglect mentioning the whole “oh, yes, and by the way, we’ll pay for those workshop stories we print” business. This was rather silly of him and I’m sure he’ll take steps to correct this oversight as soon as humanly possible, because no one likes looking vaguely unethical any longer than they absolutely have to, especially in a genre where the standard rate for short fiction is as low as it already is.

Other than this unfortunate oversight in explanatory verbiage, I have no opinion about the workshop one way or another, except to note that as far as I know, it’s the only possible way currently to submit an electronic manuscript to any of the “big three” science fiction magazines. This is of mild interest to me because as many of you know one of the major reasons that I’ve never submitted a story to any of the “big three” magazines is that they don’t accept electronic submissions, and I don’t own a printer. However, if I’m not going to bother to buy a printer to submit work to these magazines, I’m even less likely to pay for a workshop simply to get around an arbitrary and increasingly antiquated submission barrier. So, no stories from me in “the big three.” Still.

Update, 10:30 7/3: Gordon Van Gelder notes the magazine will pay “beginner’s rates” from stories plucked out of the workshop.

94 thoughts on “F&SF’s Writing Workshop

  1. Yeah, the website isn’t even up yet. I do love how Sam Hidaka (of Baen’s I assume) comments, pointing out how familiar this sounds (minus the whole it will cost the writers part, of course) :)

  2. Funny, the whole ‘antiquated methods used by the Big Three’ is ringing a bell, but I just can’t place it….

  3. It occurs to me that it would be possible to submit to the Big Three without owning a printer by sending the file electronically to Kinko’s (or FedEx Office or whatever they’re calling it these days) with instructions (which you can also do electronically) to mail it to whatever address you give them.

    The basic idea worked remarkably well when my boss was across the country from me and he needed 50 more copies of the paper he was presenting, though in that case I had them courier the copies.

    (If this is a solution looking for a nonexistent problem, never mind. My mind is looking for a chew-toy.)

  4. No printer?

    Have you considered using cybered paper wasps? I scored some off a disgraced former DARPA employee who now makes empanadas at the local Pink Elephant bakery.

    Their control unit takes input from FireWire, RS-232 serial or Baudot tape. Just enter in the verbage, toss three ounces of best India ink and a yard or so of 2×4 into their cage’s feeding chute, and in ten minutes you’ll have a letter-perfect hardcopy on the equivalent of 16 pound bond paper. Courier, Helvetica or Comic Sans, your choice.

    But if you go that way, try not to use pork for their weekly meat ration. They cotton to it a bit too keenly, and may sojourn from their dwelling to seek out an analogue.

    (waves stump in an off-hand manner)

  5. Beth Friedman:

    I’m sort of constitutionally opposed of paying FedEx Office more per page than I’d get per word from any of the “big three,” especially when there are other outlets who pay more and take electronic submissions from me.

  6. The “have to submit on paper” is an amazingly Luddite attitude…all the worse for a damn Science Fiction magazine.

  7. I imagine, however, that the submit on paper only keeps the submission numbers down somewhat. I mean, I haven’t yet sent them a story, for mainly the same reason Scalzi hasn’t, though I do own a printer. But there are other pro venues that pay as good or better and take email subs, so I haven’t bothered yet. I’ll probably break down and do it once/if my stories all get rejected from the email sub places.

    But really, shouldn’t the so called “big three” be the first line of attack and not the last resort? I do wish they took email subs, even if it might cause them more headache.

  8. Wow, no printer! Dude, I’m impressed!!
    I wonder if you get the same amount of flack I got for opening a bookstore withOUT a fax machine/line? Heh. Rock on.

    To Steve @#6: Gee, you’re right about the Luddites. Good observation.

    Here’s to the anti-Luddites among us -

  9. I’m a little baffled that anyone got up in arms about this in the first place. I mean, the relationship of editor to workshop participant has been around for a long time.

    Every writer who goes to a workshop with an editor knows that the editors sometimes buy stories from the workshop group. That’s one of the reasons you go.

    Heck. I took a workshop last summer from Sheila Williams hoping it would help me break in and lo! She bought one of my workshop stories for Asimov’s. Considering that the workshop cost more than I earned on the story, I paid to have the story published.

    To me, the only thing that’s really different here is that Gordon Van Gelder has said that he’s definitely taking stories and he’s said how many.

    And until you mentioned it, the idea that an author wouldn’t get paid for a story in F&SF hadn’t even occurred to me. In the absence of other information I assumed the default, which is that they are paying .05 – .07 cents a word.

    At least, that’s the way IGMS does it when they pick up stories from OSC’s Literary Boot Camp.

  10. I’m not sure “up in arms” is the right term… the post about the workshop has actually very little info in it (it lists a website that leads to an under construction, check back type form) and says they’ll be taking only 100 people at first while implying there will be fees.

    I think we’re all just curious what the exact fees will be and if the mag will pay if it takes stories out of the workshop (which so far I think we’re all assuming that it will…)

    I was merely pointing out that Baen’s has been doing something like this for free for a while, and that it seems to be working fairly well for them. (Which the comments on the original announcement imply)

  11. Now there you go…I’m not the only one who says that this old paper thing is ridiculous these days. Bad for people, bad for the environment, bad for magazines.

    As for the workshop–it does indeed sound nice, but…welll…it could very well be that the editor doesn’t intend to pay. He’s pretty obsessed with the whole “people giving away stories online” thing, maybe this is his way of getting a piece of it?

  12. I think that the second problem (“current lack of real information on the workshop”) works against the first problem (“it sure looks like writers paying money for access to publication”). There is enough obvious, explicit malfeasance in the world that we don’t need to look for more in the shadows.

    I find the idea of publishing a story without the magazine paying for it so absurd that I would be tempted to say that suggesting such a thing will occur with no supporting evidence borders on… well, something I’d rather no say since I would necessarily be accusing our fine host of it. If there is something that makes non-payment even plausible I certainly would not know of it.

  13. I suspect that the workshop Mary went to, which gave her access to Sheila Williams, had fewer than 100 participants. Indeed, I am absolutely sure of it.

    Like everyone else, it never occurred to me that workshop participants wouldn’t get the going rate for short stories. It would just be that rate minus the workshop fee. If the fee is low (which, with 99 other people lobbying for time and attention from the facilitator, it had better be) no big deal since word counts change in the editorial process anyway. At $10, for example, the margin between MS Word and printer’s rule will probably take care of the fees.

    If the fee is along the lines of the in-person workshops in the field, it’s a rate cut and it’s pay-to-play. (And it becomes less a workshop proper and more of an exercise in writing for a single individual for three slots, mainly because the draw of this workshop is the three slots. It’s not the editor, not with 99 other people in the virtual classroom anyway.)

    Literary journals do it all the time, but literary journals are often non-profits. Why is a for-profit magazine trying to monetize the slush pile? Presumably it’s because attempting to find and cultivate an audience is more difficult.

  14. The whole concept worries me a little. I have been working on a short story that I planned on submitting to F&SF. Except for a brief stint at a newspaper I have no published credits.

    They probably wouldn’t have bought my story as it is. Hard market to break into. Does this make it even less likely that they are going to buy my story because I wasn’t part of their workshop?

  15. If we’re talking about the online workshop of Baen’s Universe, as I recall, there isn’t a professional editor working with each author. This is what F&SF is doing different and that makes it worth paying for. Not that I’m going for it. I don’t think a workshop would be anything but a waste of time and money for me.

  16. Nick said: “It becomes less a workshop proper and more of an exercise in writing for a single individual for three slots.”

    I get a chuckle there. Each class, 100 hopeful writers. How many classes will there be a year? Could wind up being several hundreds of hopeful writers, all competing for one of the three slots.

  17. Why is everybody thinking about this in terms of “writer paying for publication?”

    In my opinion, a workshop is a place where students learn and practice a certain craft. You pay some money – if the workshop requires it – and you learn. Am I wrong?

  18. I’ve had a workshop with Gardner before. In fact, it was the predecessor to the workshop Mary did with Sheila. There were less than 20 people (13 at mine).

    I am baffled at the sense that there isn’t payment if the story is selected. That would have never occurred to me.

    I’ll admit, when I first went to the workshop with Gardner, my thought was it was all about networking. The feedback that I received on my writing and what I learned from reading and hearing feedback on the other writers’ work was invaluable.

    So, if anyone is going into this with the thought that it is pay to play is missng what it’s really worth. That may be the initial appeal and thought, but it’s worth it for the feedback – and the possibility of finding a critique partner at the same level as yourself.

    Not sure why Yog’s Law is being invoked here…

    Christopher @ 14 – No.

    Nick @ 13, why is 100 people in a virtual classroom taking away the value/appeal of personal feedback from Gardner? Likely they’ll break it up into 10 groups of 10 since you will be required to read other writers stories and provide feedback as well – or something along those lines. I suppose I am biased because I have paid for feedback from Gardner before though… The 3 slots establishes the relationship between Gardner and the Mag.

  19. I think this is different from other workshops where an editor might buy a story she sees–other workshops, no one has said up front “The editor may choose three stories from among you!” The chance to be published by Famous Editor Instructor may be part of why you’ve signed up, but it’s not an explicit part of the deal, when it happens, it’s a bonus. That’s what makes this different from most workshop setups.

    This strikes me more as essentially a contest with an entry fee. I myself have mixed feelings about contests with entry fees, but I don’t consider them necessarily skeevy. And I have to admit it never even occurred to me that F&SF wouldn’t pay any workshop “winners” their regular rate until reading this entry.

    What does slightly concern me–not to the extent that I’m “up in arms”–is the idea that this would be the main way newbie writers will be published in F&SF. The number of currently unpublished writers who make it through the slushpile and into the magazine is very small. F&SF only has so many slots to begin with. And now three a year are taken up by writers who have paid money in order to be considered for those slots. I can hardly blame people for interpreting this as F&SF telling new writers that if they want any serious chance of publication they need to pay a fee.

    Full disclosure, Gordon was one of my Clarion West instructors, and has never bought a story from me. I absolutely do not think he’d do something dishonest, or fail to pay writers. I would be very surprised if he intended to institute any kind of pay-for-play. I strongly suspect he’s trying to monetize the slushpile, as Nick says. But I’m not tremendously sure that’s a good idea.

  20. It is a vendetta generated by the same people who have had issues with Gardner and Gordon in the past. And I have to be honest, as someone who is interested in the workshop, the opportunity to get Gardner’s feedback on a story project far outweighs the issue of, “Gee, I might get published in Gordon’s magazine.”

    I’m paying for the critique. That is all.

    Lastly, the whole payment issue is also a non starter. An established writer is going to get far more for their story than a brand new writer and I think the five cent per word standard stiffles and blocks far more than it helps.

    Besides that, plenty of crap makes it into the magazines anyway. I, for one, would be happy to have Gardner making a few picks again.

    S. F. Murphy

  21. Patrick M:

    “I am baffled at the sense that there isn’t payment if the story is selected. That would have never occurred to me.”

    The lack of clarity on the payment issue is the first thing I noticed, personally. And while I think it’s sweet that everyone else is assuming there’s payment involved if a story is selected out of the workshop, speaking as a professional writer recently inundated with people asking for free work, I find that assuming payment is involved for anything is a fine way to be unpleasantly surprised after you’ve done a bunch of work. Here’s a good rule of thumb: Find out up front if there’s payment, and how much it is. To be clear, I also believe F&SF always intended to pay. I believe that should have been explicitly noted.

    Re: Nick’s point, I think the workshop needs to make clear that it’s not a science fiction writer equivalent of American Idol, and that Dozois is not obliged to publish three stories, nor is the intended goal of the workshop to be a backdoor to F&SF — rather, it’s to help writers improve regardless of whether or not Dozois selects them for publication.

    Unfortunately, given Gordon’s various comments on the matter, it seems that he’s pushing the “magic door to publication” angle while simultaneously being annoyed that people are speculating about the workshop in the absence of information. What would have been smarter to do is make a public announcement of the workshop with more complete information (like, for example, a notation that workshop stories picked for publication would be paid for), while emphasizing that the focus is on helping the writers improve, rather than acting as a second slush pile for F&SF.

    SF Murphy:

    “It is a vendetta generated by the same people who have had issues with Gardner and Gordon in the past.”

    Really? What’s my vendetta, then? I’m curious. I’m especially curious since in the last week I’ve had a story published in an anthology Dozois has edited.

    And since I’m not referencing anyone else’s issues with the workshop — or had indeed implied anyone did have issues with it, the only one who could possibly have a vendetta here would be me. So, please, explain in detail what that vendetta might be. I really want to know.

  22. I agree that the paper submission is antiquated, but I still think there are some good reasons to own a printer. On more than one occasion, I’ve been asked to sign and return a contract ASAP–same day if possible. Because I have a printer (and a scanner) I can do this with no problem. I would say about once a month I find it convenient to have a printer, and they are cheap–less than $100, I would say. My son can type his homework, for example.

    I think the F&SF workshop is a nice opportunity for new writers to get some feedback, and I, too, would assume that they will be paying the same princely sum for stories purchased through the workshop that they do for stories submitted through regular channels. (LOL)

  23. I’m with Ann on this point: “What does slightly concern me–not to the extent that I’m ‘up in arms’–is the idea that this would be the main way newbie writers will be published in F&SF. The number of currently unpublished writers who make it through the slushpile and into the magazine is very small. F&SF only has so many slots to begin with. And now three a year are taken up by writers who have paid money in order to be considered for those slots. I can hardly blame people for interpreting this as F&SF telling new writers that if they want any serious chance of publication they need to pay a fee.”

    If it does make it harder for new writers to get into the magazine, it’ll actually have a negative effect on acquiring work from new writers, over time. Which would mean the next generation is going to get its pro start elsewhere (which is probably already happening anyway).

    I also think Gordon is a fundamentally decent person who just doesn’t do a good job of presenting information to the public.

    John–it’s sadly hilarious that this is in fact, as you point out, the only way to submit electronically to one of the Big Three.

  24. Hmmm. I wasn’t bothered at all by the lack of financial info (cost of the workshop/whether published stories would be paid for) because all they asked for was an email address so they could contact interested parties with full details when they had them.

    I figured, as I usually do, that I’d make an informed decision about the value of the exercise once I’d actually been informed.

    This did violate the rule of ‘announcing before you have something to sell’ (which I think Doctorow pointed out was a generally bad idea – wastes the promo buzz), but the ‘Big Three’ seem to have issues with getting their hands around the internet, so even that’s not all that surprising.

    Nick @13: if someone wanted to semi-legitimately monetize the slush pile, I think the way to go would be to charge a small fee for a ‘fast-track’. Rejection is guaranteed a critique letter (no form) and the allowed number of fast-track submissions is limited within a time period (x per week). I say semi, because it is still subject to ethical considerations, and more so if nothing is ever purchased out of that category.

  25. Jeff VanderMeer:

    “Which would mean the next generation is going to get its pro start elsewhere (which is probably already happening anyway).”

    Definitely is happening; I noted some time ago that the last Campbell winner to have a short story published in the “big three” before they won their Campbell was Cory Doctorow, and he won in 2000. Mary Robinette Kowal, who is the current tiara wearer, just got published in Asimov’s, which is great, but conforms to the recent trend (nb: Elizabeth Bear had a poem published in F&SF prior to the Campbell).

    The point about the appearance of the workshop being the only way for new writers to get published in F&SF is well taken, especially if in the minds of the editorial brain trust of F&SF the workshop takes up the mindspace of “taking care of new writer acquisition,” so they unintentionally begin discounting works from new writers in favor or older, more established “name” writers. Basically Gordon, et al will have to work twice as hard to avoid statistical data showing that the majority of their new writers are coming from workshop, effectively making it, as Nick notes, a “pay to play” endeavor.

    Steve Davidson:

    “I wasn’t bothered at all by the lack of financial info (cost of the workshop/whether published stories would be paid for) because all they asked for was an email address so they could contact interested parties with full details when they had them.”

    My problem is that F&SF fronted all other sorts of details — “Look! Gardner Dozois will run the workshop! Look! You could get published in F&SF!” — at a sufficient level of granularity that the payment issue became notable by its absence.

    It’s entirely possible I pay more attention to payment than other folks, but I really see that as a feature rather than a bug, you know?

  26. I sort of lost interest in the “Big Three” when I realized that the only people who read those magazines are people who have hopes of being published in them.

  27. Scalzi — I guess it seemed clear to me, that if the other 97 writers were free to submit their work to Gordon after it had been workshopped – because Gordon will not be reading – that it seemed logical that Gardner’s selections would be paid. Otherwise, I think I would rather come in fourth. :)

    To me, the thing missing from the announcement is the cost. To me, that’s even more important than the .06-.09 payment. It’s clear that it is a workshop. I’m surprised he stated that he’s planning to run 3 selections per year. I suspect that he really means he’s just holding 3 slots open, not that he is guranteeing 3 ‘winners’.

    I guess this overreaction just seems really premature to me. Once the cost and signup is posted, I’m betting any contract info on the submitted story would be clearer. And if you don’t sign anything when submitting to the workshop, then you are free to not accept the ‘winning’ slot.

    Personally, I do think you have a little bit of a grudge against ‘the big 3′, because you are saddened by their impending demise(because of your love of SF history) and wish they would take steps that you feel is necessary. Why yes, I do read way too much into your comments. :)

    Otherwise, why do you care? This clearly isn’t for you, Mr. Viable Paradise instructor, yet you seem to be explaining why you wouldn’t do it.

  28. “Basically Gordon, et al will have to work twice as hard to avoid statistical data showing that the majority of their new writers are coming from workshop, effectively making it, as Nick notes, a “pay to play” endeavor. “

    Yeah, that’s true. They should try to avoid the appearance that professional guidance helps new writers. They should avoid VP and Clarion writers, too. It has nothing to do with story and all about appearance…

    Why yes, I am overreacting to suggesting statistical analysis of editor choice of story. :)

  29. Patrick M:

    “I guess it seemed clear to me, that if the other 97 writers were free to submit their work to Gordon after it had been workshopped – because Gordon will not be reading – that it seemed logical that Gardner’s selections would be paid.”

    Than — no offense — it’s bad logic on your part. It could just as easily be that as a condition of participation, F&SF reserves the right for publication of all materials submitted, without additional compensation, for the duration of the workshop, and at the end of the workshop, all unselected materials have their rights returned to their owners.

    To be clear, this would be stupid, but it’s as logically consistent as your scenario would be.

    “Why do you care? This clearly isn’t for you, Mr. Viable Paradise instructor, yet you seem to be explaining why you wouldn’t do it.”

    Well quite obviously I care because as someone who makes his living writing, I believe writers should be paid, from their very first accepted work to their last. As should every writer.

    “Yeah, that’s true. They should try to avoid the appearance that professional guidance helps new writers. They should avoid VP and Clarion writers, too. It has nothing to do with story and all about appearance…”

    Bad logic again, I’m afraid. VP and Clarion do not have as a putative selling point the come-on that manuscripts in the workshop can be directly pipelined into publication.

  30. “Than — no offense — it’s bad logic on your part.”

    Bad logic on my part? Sure. But both our assumption are equally valid. The difference is, having little information, I gave two long time professional editors the benefit of the doubt. Maybe that is because I have personally met Gardner and had him tell me Yog’s Law.

    I agree – writers should be paid for everything.

  31. “Bad logic again, I’m afraid. ”

    Yes, intentional, too – but misunderstanding that I am opposed to statistical analysis of story selection based on criteria such as gender or workshop attendance because it wrongly assumes that all stories are created equal.

  32. Patrick M.

    “The difference is, having little information, I gave two long time professional editors the benefit of the doubt.”

    Whereas I believe that two long-time editors should not be so stupid as to leave an obvious and detrimental ambiguity in the information they’ve initially placed into the public sphere.

    Elsewise, I don’t think your intentional use of bad logic is making your points very well. You should try a different tack.

  33. Scalzi:
    “What would have been smarter to do is make a public announcement of the workshop with more complete information (like, for example, a notation that workshop stories picked for publication would be paid for), while emphasizing that the focus is on helping the writers improve, rather than acting as a second slush pile for F&SF.”

    You know. I think you are overlooking something here and I don’t often think that.

    The editorial is in the September issue of F&SF which isn’t due to hit the newstands or readers for another two months. The news about the workshop came from an advance reviewer.

    Given the lead times on magazines, I think it’s fair to guess that GVG was planning on doing exactly that and didn’t think about a reviewer posting about his editorial.

    Nick Mamatas
    “I suspect that the workshop Mary went to, which gave her access to Sheila Williams, had fewer than 100 participants.”
    True. There were 20 in that workshop. Two problems with your arguement there. 1. it’s not the only workshop she does per year. 2. The ratio does nothing to change your pay-to-play objection.

    Ann Leckie
    “This strikes me more as essentially a contest with an entry fee.”
    That’s an interesting way to look at it. I’m having a hard time seeing it that way myself because in a contest, if you don’t win, you get nothing for your entry fee. Here, people are paying for the workshop and there’s the added carrot that your story might be one of the three. But even if it isn’t you’re still getting something out if it.

    To me all Gordon has done here is make explicit a relationship that has always existed between writer and editor at workshops.

  34. Yeah, apparently my nack for condescension in person by replying to stupidity with sarcastic stupidity is heavily dependent on vocal tone, which isn’t coming across online.

    Sorry about that.

    Congrats on calling Gordon stupid!

    I should also note that my way of calling someone stupid in a friendly argumentative way while smiling in person, doesn’t really come across online as well either. :) does the smiley face help?

    Oh, and I have bad grammar, too.

  35. MRK:

    “Given the lead times on magazines, I think it’s fair to guess that GVG was planning on doing exactly that and didn’t think about a reviewer posting about his editorial.”

    He should have, then. I see your point, but what you’re also saying is the GvG intentionally released information out to people without restriction, and is somehow surprised that someone singled out a specific thing that will undoubtedly be of interest to the SF/F community. I’m having trouble understanding why this should be a surprise.

    I mean, look: It’s 2009, now. The magical power of the Internet to find and disclose information should not be any great discovery anymore, especially when one intentionally releases that information. If this is still news to GvG, he really needs to have someone sit down with him and explain the Internet in greater detail.

    Patrick M:

    “Yeah, apparently my nack for condescension in person by replying to stupidity with sarcastic stupidity is heavily dependent on vocal tone, which isn’t coming across online.”

    It also helps if you’re actually replying to something stupid. Asking if writers are going to get paid for their work isn’t stupid. I find it interesting that you appear to think it is.

    “Congrats on calling Gordon stupid!”

    I think it’s sweet that you’re outraged on Gordon’s behalf, but yeah: He did something stupid here, and he should have known better.

    “If this website http://www.fandsfworkshop.com/ had more details by the time the editorial actually hit – this is a BIG non-issue”

    And yet, it does not, and the editorial has actually hit. So it is an issue.

  36. “It also helps if you’re actually replying to something stupid. Asking if writers are going to get paid for their work isn’t actually stupid.”

    It also helps to note that I was sarcastically replying to statistical analysis of story selection – not writers getting paid. “Gordon, et al will have to work twice as hard to avoid statistical data “

    My mistake about writers getting paid was benefit of the doubt for Gordon.

    “I think it’s sweet that you’re outraged on Gordon’s behalf”

    Well, me too. It’s clear he isn’t internet savvy and you are and tend to pile on him – IMO. Good for you.

  37. Patrick M:

    “It’s clear he isn’t internet savvy and you are and tend to pile on him”

    GvG has been on the Internet for roughly the same amount of time as I have, Patrick M, and he and I are roughly the same age and intellect. He has very little excuse for not grasping the Internet at this point.

    Also, please stop trying to be sarcastic in this thread. It’s really not working for you.

  38. You know – I think the worst part about this initial post is –

    No matter what Gordon does now, the perception could be that initially he never intended to pay the ‘winner’ because that’s how you chose to interpret the lack of information one way or the other.

    So, when Gordon does post the details, even if (as I assume) payment was intended all along, due to your post and internet presence, it appears that he is only doing it because of you.

    And that makes Gordon – and Gardner – look a little bit sleazy.

    So yeah. I’m sorry for being offended for Gordon – and Gardner, but I am…

  39. Not as strange as saying you expect the next novel to be published in the coming summer, when your previous one took five years to write, but still a puzzling set of facts.

    The kinds of questions that John raises are exactly the ones that you’d figure out before publicizing an event. Aren’t these folks the pros?

  40. Patrick M (@18): Is it likely that’ll it’ll be ten groups of ten? Other online workshops tied directly to a publisher, such as Zoetrope’s old system and Amazon’s contest, didn’t work that way at all. They were essentially free-for-alls with rounds for voting, and then only some portion of peer-reviewed stories ever passed under the eyes of an editor for feedback or acquisition.

    100 people with one story is 100 stories. That’s going to be managed by a single individual facilitator how? And depending on the fee structure—is it per person, or per story—there may be many more than 100 stories.

    I don’t disagree than ten groups of ten would be a good way to handle it, though if participants had to pay for each story that could rather quickly turn the workshop into an income driver more significant than newsstand sales, which might have hilarious unintended side effects. However, there’s nothing all the likely about your suggestion coming true, well, unless Gordon reads your comment and quickly starts sketching out a new system for the workshop.

    Mary @ 33: the ratio is vital to play-to-pay as the ratio impacts how the workshop is run. In a workshop with 100 people, as opposed to one with, say, ten, and one facilitator either a) the critiques by the facilitator will be much less in-depth in the larger group or b) only some of the work will be seen by the editor, or c) the waits for a critique from the facilitator will be longer than in a smaller group.

    All of those alter the value of the workshop for the price paid. What doesn’t change is the actual selling point: Dozois is buying three stories for F&SF! You can finally get in if you write how he likes and edits in the way he thinks you should! Just pay him to find out what to do!

    Also, re: contests, a fair number of literary contests do give something of value other than a chance for publication and a prize, such as subscriptions to the magazine running the contest, free or reduced-price books, and indeed, even editorial feedback. (Heck, my subscription to Bomb was two bucks cheaper than it would have been if I hadn’t sent a short story along with my subscription check.)

  41. I’m somewhat with Nick Mamatas on this, just because of the sheer size of the workshop. Assumptions that it’s going to break into smaller groups don’t quite ring true for me, because that’s an assumption based on data we don’t have. Is this going to be like other ongoing online workshops, where participants get to pick and choose? Or will this be a 1-2 week sequential workshop of 10 to 20 participants?

    Cost is also a factor given the workshop size. I’m not about to hand out my e-mail blindly when I lack data on the original signup for cost and organization. If it’s a small amount, then good. If it’s equivalent to other, smaller-sized workshops, then I have a problem.

    As others have said, this is the sort of project which shouldn’t be leaked until they’re ready to put out all the details. Otherwise, it reeks of poor organization, and would make me (and hopefully others) worry about getting my money’s worth out of it. I already deal sufficiently with poor organizational strategies in other aspects of my life. I don’t need another contributor to that sort of stress.

    Those who want to repeatedly post that this is all about personal vendettas against Gordon and Gardner also need to step back and do some observations and independent thought about the issue, as well. Critique of a poorly-thought out introduction of something like this workshop is not evidence of a vendetta. It’s just observation of poor organization and planning.

  42. 25. John Scalzi: “My problem is that F&SF fronted all other sorts of details — “Look! Gardner Dozois will run the workshop! Look! You could get published in F&SF!” — at a sufficient level of granularity that the payment issue became notable by its absence.”

    But even if Gardner is “required” to choose three stories a year, new authors paying for this workshop thinking it will increase their chances of getting published in the magazine are going to be disappointed. Gordon also said that he won’t be reading the workshop stories and authors are welcome to submit the stories to F&SF regardless of what people at the workshop said.

    It sounds like a workshop to me. That door to publication is so narrow it hardly matters. I think an author would be better off submitting directly to the magazine if all he’s not interested in the workshop but just wants to be in the magazine.

    Though I agree the announcement is lacking information and like someone up in the comments said, it also sounds like a contest with an entry fee. And it was made too soon, linking to a site that isn’t ready, so we still don’t know all the details.

  43. Rob Darnell:

    “That door to publication is so narrow it hardly matters.”

    Yes, but we live in a nation where millions play the lottery because “someone’s got to win, right?”

    I agree 100% that the workshop should be positioned as a workshop, not as a back door to publication.

  44. Nick @ 45 – Yeah, lots of assumptions on all parts that we are all reading way to far into.

    To me, this reads a more of an endeavour for Gardner – with association to Gordon/FSF. Gordon is not reading any stories, unless submitted through standard channels, which is still an option for workshopped stories.

    Working editors often do workshops(as Mary noted), but explicitly state that though stories could be purchased there is no guarantee. It’s still an incentive that they might buy. Suprisingly, many writers have egos and don’t think they need the workshop, but that they need the secret handshake.

    With Gardner not actively editing a magazine at the moment, the connection to FSF brings it back to par(sort of) with what the hopeful egotistical newbies are thinking.

    You’re right. There are all sorts of examples of ways that they could do this, some better than others.

    My assumption is if Gardner is running the show – since I have attended an in-person workshop with him – I simply put forth how he could accomplish a similar format online. That may or may not be what he intends. Not to mention that this is also being administered by Lisa Rogers. Who knows what her input is as well.

    To me this is very much a ‘More Info To Come’ thing. I’m surprised at how many people are thinking the worst.

    I agree that Gordon stinks at making announcements. :)

  45. I find it depressing that people assume that I’m willing to take part in a scam to rip off new writers by accepting their stories for publication without payment, even though I’ve spent a forty-year career doing everything I can to help new writers, from all the way back in the day when the “new writers” were George R.R. Martin, Joe Haldeman,and Connie Willis. In fact, I’d never participate in a workshop that was set up in this “pay-for-play” manner, and I don’t for a moment believe that this was the way that Gordon intended it to be set up either. This is an unfounded conclusion that’s being jumped at, and it boggles me that it’s generated so much controversy. If people wanted clarification of the details of how the workshop was going to be set up, why didn’t they email Gordon and ask for them, as, in fact, the editorial requests that they do? That would have quickly put all this to rest.

  46. Gardner Dozois:

    “I find it depressing that people assume that I’m willing to take part in a scam to rip off new writers by accepting their stories for publication without payment”

    As I noted in the entry, it seemed likely that the writers would get paid. But it would have been nice to have had that made explicit, thus avoiding any ambiguity. As long as GvG was going to into details about other things.

    As for why people didn’t contact GvG, maybe they did. I personally did not; I was commenting on the information that GvG made available online, after he was made aware that people were talking about it. I suspect he probably should have added more information to the editorial.

  47. Well, Gordon’s said he’ll pay, so that, at least, is put to bed.

    The thing about the workshop being a path to publication is that it just isn’t much better than the open alternative. F&SF accepts unsolicited manuscripts and usually replies within the week. A 3% acceptance rate is better than the average (which I’m guessing is about .5%?), but then writers going to workshops submitting critted stories are probably at least level 7 slush killers, so it’s very roughly comparable.

    Frankly, I think it more likely that people would submit novels to Viable Paradise hoping to shortcut the two-year wait to get slush read at Tor. Not unreasonable, even though Patrick has never promised to buy novels from participants. (Nor do I think he ever has, although he did buy one short story.)

  48. Gardner, why e-mail the sources when you could launch an attack designed to strangle the workshop in the cradle?

    Which is pretty much what Nick and a few of his pals (Scalzi not included and I should have made that point in my previous post) had in mind.

    For everyone else, I’ve said it elsewhere and I’ll say it here. My primary concern as a published writer is to regain access to Gardner’s feedback on stories. If they were purchased by Gordon then that’d be just splendid but that is not my primary motivation and frankly it shouldn’t be any one else’s either.

    I suspect what folks like Nick and others would prefer is that Gordon and the other two mags go out of business so the online markets (Baen, IGMS and Apex aside, most of the paying ones are substandard anyway). Better yet, they’d prefer it if Gordon and Gardner were out of the short story game period.

    And if it wasn’t such a big deal (as was made in ref an entry at my blog, that these two were DOOMED) then why expend the effort to misinterpret and imply unethical behavior?

    Frankly, it reminds me of the incident a summer or two back where a prominent wannabe accused Gardner of sending improper responses in his rejection letters. No proof was ever offered by the person making the charge and no real apology was ever extended by that individual either.

    This is just another cycle of that vendetta. As such the players involved in this attack should be answered, which both Gordon and Gardner have done, and then disregarded.

    S. F. Murphy

  49. Ah, there’s S.F. Murphy, spinning yet another paranoid fantasy.

    Here’s a pro-tip, as one “published writer” to another: think first, then write. To wit:

    I suspect what folks like Nick and others would prefer is that Gordon and the other two mags go out of business so the online markets

    …so the online markets WHAT? You went immediately into a parenthetical comment, but never actually, you know, finished the thought.

    I realize that after years of dumb flailing around, you got some feedback from Gardner Dozois on a story, and then when for some reason that didn’t work out you renewed your attack, very explicitly, on the “women and homosexuals” in the genre. This means you are, in a word, crazy. As you are a crazy person, there is very little reason to respond to anything you say, except insofar as some naive third party might stumble upon your comment and think they were something other then the scribblings of a nut.

    Further, as a crazy person, you have somehow integrated Dozois into your hysterical narcissistic self-narrative—”that is not my primary motivation and frankly it shouldn’t be any one else’s either”—is a particular hoot. Pretty unfortunate for Dozois, I guess, but I’m sure he’s dealt with kooks looking for father figures before.

    Why did I find the workshop dubious? Simple: monetizing the slush pile is done most commonly in not-for-profit literary journals with no readership outside of its pool of submitters. The secondary reason was the projected number of participants. The third reason was tying the workshop to publication in F&SF. There is Slush Pile A, in which the costs of submission are limited to the price of printing and stamps and Slush Pile B, which has an associated fee and some participation in a workshop with as many as 99 other people…to start. SPB doesn’t sound like a deal to me, but then again my appreciation of Dozois’s editorial skills are limited to just that, and being one of 100 to get some feedback (if indeed everyone gets feedback from him instead of from nutters like you) doesn’t sound all that interesting. So, to increase interest we have the three slots a year for publication. A bit of a lottery, innit?

    (Aside: I think Scalzi was way off in wondering aloud if the workshop attendees would be paid if their work was published, and said as much, as did pretty much every commenter who responded to Scalzi’s point. Gardner’s huffing @51 about “people” who “assume that I’m willing to take part in a scam to rip off new writers” is a dog that won’t hunt, period unless “people” is a new word for “Scalzi only” and “assume” a new word for “wonder aloud.”)

    Sorry, I don’t see Dozois as some personal genie who really will make me rich and famous so I can one day rub it in the faces of all the homos and bitches who did me wrong. You do, Murph. The gap between your delusions and what some normal people think is the cause of your anxiety and anger here, nothing else.

    Finally, some of my pals did email the sources. The results were fairly interesting, actually, and not what you’d think they were.

  50. Hmmm. The two of you are going places with this conversation I’m not entirely sure the rest of us need to go. Port the personal eye-stabbings elsewhere, please.

  51. Nick’s just being honest, John.

    And he is also wrong. About a lot of things.

    I’ve made my point and I’ll leave it at that.

    S. F. Murphy

  52. Nick, you seem to be of the opinion that the workshop is intended to divide the slush load, as if F&SF’s slush readers aren’t on top of it. The stories that go to slush pile B can end up going to slush pile A after they’ve been workshopped. So how exactly does the workshop become a slush pile B?

    Scalzi, I know you’re big on writers getting paid and I respect you for that. I’m glad you’re here to sound off when something seems afoul, but it occurred to me today that maybe Van Gelder didn’t mention pay rates in his announcement because he was actually talking about a workshop and not so much about publication. It might have saved him some trouble if he’d mentioned pay rates, but he probably didn’t think about that because it says on the website what you would be paid if your work is accepted for publication in F&SF.

  53. I think the workshop needs to make clear that it’s not a science fiction writer equivalent of American Idol

    I, personally, would be all in favor of such a thing – complete with singing and costumes and stuff – although we would have to institute a “Mieville Rule” to keep anyone from winning two years in a row.

  54. The stories that go to slush pile B can end up going to slush pile A after they’ve been workshopped. So how exactly does the workshop become a slush pile B?

    You realize that question assumes slushpile B exists, right?

    Well, the answer to the question is simple: you already agree that slushpile B exists. That one can sub a story via A as well hardly matters if one has already paid for entry into B with both the fee and the time and energy spent in participation.

  55. Maybe a good idea would be for F&SF to announce that the subscribers get free access. Maybe that would increase the subscriber base :)

  56. John,

    Way back at #25 you said ‘its possible you pay more attention to payment than other folks’

    Don’t get me wrong – I pay attention to the details too (I even read the entire cell phone contract – tiny gray print on yellow paper – before signing):

    Maybe I’m being pollyanna, or maybe I’m just not overly impressed with “come on” language through long exposure to it.

    Sign up – details to follow. When I get the details is when I’ll waste my time, but in my case it was ten seconds to add my email address and then move on.

    The thing that struck me about the whole enterprise was not the lack of payment information, it was the seeming lack of a coherent plan: if the detail wasn’t ready to go, it wasn’t the right time to launch this thing.

    F&SF’s apparent (and perhaps willful) inability to deal with the ‘new world order’ becomes more and more evident as time goes by. It’s probably just not high enough on my ‘pay attention’ radar to get in a huhu over.

  57. Nick – I think in context Rob is using ‘slush pile B’ as a naming convention that you started for the workshop.

    In this case, ‘slush pile B’ – the workshop stories – could easily go to any publication’s slush pile next.

    I would anticipate that most will go to FaSF so they can put in their coverletter – “from the workshop” – though, I can’t see why they wouldn’t put that in for Asimov’s too.

    Rob- He didn’t need to mention pay rates. He didn’t mention cost either. Scalzi would probably have been appeased had this –

    “he’s going to have the option of selecting stories from the workshop for publication in F&SF.”

    said this –

    “he’s going to have the option of purchasing stories from the workshop for publication in F&SF.”

    Other things not mentioned in the brief description would include who is allowed to the workshop. Is the like WoTF or Baen’s Introducing?

    I signed up for the email notification to satisfy my curiosity.

  58. Yes, any story in pretty much any slush pile can go to some other slush pile afterwards. That doesn’t mean that the world is one big slush pile and that we cannot differentiate one slush pile from another.

    One presumes that Gordon used the word select because Gardner would be selecting, not offering a contract, countersigning it, and opening up his pocketbook. The “They didn’t say pay so maybe they weren’t!” thing was extremely silly from the get-go.

  59. Nick – I think you know you are stretching here by calling the workshop a slush pile. Unless you are considering the workshop that Mary attended with Sheila a slush pile since Sheila ‘had the option to select’ stories from the workshop.

    Use of the phrase ‘option to select’ indicates to me that it isn’t a slush pile/ FSF Idol competition, though.

    I agree more details on the format would be useful because 100 concurrent is a daunting number and, as you hint at in post 62, it may not be something that I envision.

  60. But, Patrick M, the workshop Mary went to didn’t advertise Sheila’s possibly selecting students’ stories as part of the deal. It wasn’t part of the deal. It was total gravy.

    The various workshops–Clarion, Clarion West, VP, etc–don’t say anything even remotely like “And maybe three lucky students will have their work published by Famous Editor Instructor!” I’m sure it’s true that nearly every student has a secret fantasy that their instructor, overwhelmed with the student’s literary brilliance, will immediately whip out the checkbook, but I’m also sure that most students realize that’s a fantasy, and not anything particularly likely, whether or not it’s happened in the past.

    On the other hand, the F&SF workshop has specifically said that for their workshop an editor will, indeed, be looking for stories to publish in F&SF. This is very different. It’s explicitly offered by the workshop, and essentially means that every story subbed to the workshop is also subbed to an editor for consideration for F&SF. This is not true of, say, stories turned in at Clarion West.

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable to argue that the F&SF model looks like it’s a sort of slushpile.

  61. Ann Leckie @ 73

    Very good point.
    I think it’s likely that Dozois only included the info about possible publication as an enthusiastic “Hey, cool things happening, right here!” aside, but of course writers will batten on to that aspect and run with it. Publication is what all the workshopping is for, after all.

  62. I’m claiming that the workshop is a slushpile because Gardner Dozois will be selecting up to three stories per annum from the workshop for publication in the magazine run by the workshop. That is a specific value-added perk of attending this workshop rather than OWW or Critters or Clarion or an MFA program or a group at one’s local library.

    This really just isn’t difficult to understand. Anne Leckie has it 100% correct.

    Incidentally, this is not even a new idea. Zoetrope did the same for a while, except that of course only one story ever was plucked from the slush/workshop to be published, and participation was free.

  63. Ann Leckie @ 73

    Exactly right. And depending on the workshop, it may actually BE likely that an editor will like a story enough to request to see it again for their publication/publishing house. But again, that’s not the point of most workshops. They do not exist to funnel stories to said editors, they exist to help students improve their craft. This is the major difference I’m seeing here.

  64. Ann Leckie – Out of curiosity – how familiar are you with the advertising of the workshop that Mary went to with Sheila – the active editor of Asimov’s – where her story was purchased? I’m just asking, because I attended the same workshop when it was Gardner, so I am very familiar with it. I almost went to the one with Sheila.

    As Mary said @ 9 – “Every writer who goes to a workshop with an editor knows that the editors sometimes buy stories from the workshop group. That’s one of the reasons you go. ”

    In this case, Gardner isn’t currently an acquiring editor – unless Gordon explicitly states that he is – which he did. That also cements the relationship between FSF and the workshop since neither Gordon or JJA appear to be instructors where you could assume such a relationship.

    So, sure, VP doesn’t advertise that they could buy something from a workshop. Neither do the others. But they all have bought something from a workshop at somepoint.

    I’m not saying it is a new idea. I just think you guys are stretching on how big of a deal that Gardner *might* ‘select’ a story. He sort of has a history of selecting stories – some pretty good ones at that.

    Agreed that I am sort of surprised that Gordon threw the number 3 out there. It’s probably just an oversite and really just means he’s keeping 3 slots available, but will fill with inventory if Gardner doesn’t find anything.

    BTW Nick, I notice that you are trying to make the wording more explict by using “will be selecting”. If that wasn’t followed by the “up to” I would agree with you more that this is a version of a slush pile.

    It’s an FSF workshop. Even though Gordon isn’t instructing, you can still be purchased from the workshop to FSF. If Gordon was instructing, you wouldn’t even question that possibility, would you?

    Personally, at this point, I think it is as silly as the payment concern.

    And if I was working on a big SF novel, I would be more active in considering going to VP – even though they don’t buy stories from the workshop…

  65. how familiar are you with the advertising of the workshop that Mary went to with Sheila – the active editor of Asimov’s – where her story was purchased? I’m just asking, because I attended the same workshop when it was Gardner, so I am very familiar with it. I almost went to the one with Sheila.

    Since neither of you has named the workshop, I can’t answer that. I am, however, very, very familiar with what Clarion, Clarion West, and VP promise their students. Since you attended the workshop in question, perhaps you can tell us if it was explicitly promised that the instructor would be considering your stories for publication? I would be very surprised if you answered “yes.”

    So, sure, VP doesn’t advertise that they could buy something from a workshop. Neither do the others. But they all have bought something from a workshop at somepoint.

    Notice no one has claimed otherwise. The claim is not that editors never buy stories they saw in workshops, but that the major, reputable workshops do not say that editor instructors will be seriously considering buying workshopped stories.

    I went to CW for networking, yes, absolutely. But it was as much to network with my classmates as my teachers, and so far it’s that network of fellow students that has been the most valuable to me.

    If Gordon was instructing, you wouldn’t even question that possibility, would you?

    Sure I would. In fact, I think that if Gordon were instructing, and had made the statement that he might choose three stories from the workshop to publish, I would be even more troubled. As it is, I’m just mildly uneasy.

    And if I was working on a big SF novel, I would be more active in considering going to VP – even though they don’t buy stories from the workshop…

    Right, that’s exactly my point. While writers may fantasize about selling their week 5 story to Gordon while they’re at CW, it’s not why they’re going to the workshop. Sure, it happens. But it was never what the workshop was about, it’s a side benefit.

    As soon as you say that part of the value of the workshop is possible publication, that changes. Now you’re expecting someone to sell a story–and it might be you! It’s not just your writer ego spinning dreams.

    As it stands, you’re not just paying for feedback, you’re also paying to submit a story to the editor. And it’s a submission route that’s only open to paying customers of the workshop–Gordon would have seen my CW stories eventually anyway, but Gardner is only going to look at stories submitted by workshop students.

    And whether or not potential workshop students admit that the explicit promise of consideration for publication is the reason for signing up–and honestly, let’s be real, we’re talking about writers here–the end result is a potential three stories a year that will only be bought from paying customers of the workshop.

    Understand, I’m not accusing either Gordon or Mr Dozois of running a scam. I don’t think either man would do so. I am not up in arms about the plan. It doesn’t affect me one way or the other, personally. But I think the structure as presented is problematic, and ultimately does not bode well for the future of the magazine, for various reasons.

  66. Since neither of you has named the workshop, I can’t answer that.

    It’s because it isn’t advertised. It’s word of mouth. :)

    And no, it’s not explicit, but for the slow-brained, you will be reminded that the editor has bought stories from the workshops in the past – Mary being the latest example.

    I understand where you are coming from on this though.

    My point about if Gordon were the instructor, was that it wouldn’t need to be mentioned. If it were, I would definitely share the same concern as you.

    it’s a submission route that’s only open to paying customers of the workshop

    I certainly understand this concern. The thing that I think most writers will miss here is, if Gardner would buy it, likely Gordon would buy it, excepting for the possibility of taste – meaning it is a publishable story. Many manuscripts at workshops aren’t. Mine weren’t. No amount of feedback was going to make them publishable either.

    Your assumption that Gordon would have eventually seen your week 5 stories is incorrect, unless your writing is already at a level where you are getting past JJA consistently. This is quite possible.

    I agree that it is somewhat of a concern that Gardner now has a way of selecting stories with no other alternative way of seeing stories. I think the purpose of it is to give rise to that ego, because, let’s be honest, many of us would never attend our first workshop without the belief that we just need the secret handshake. C’mon. Be honest. :)

    Really, a workshop shouldn’t be about fixing a story, but fixing a weakness of the writer – helping them to recognize their strengths and weakness – so their next stories are better.

    If something is picked out of a workshop, it’s generally going to be as-is or very close, not after being ‘fixed’ by the instructor. At least that is my impression of it, from what I have seen at workshops I have attended.

    So, I understand your concern, but how do they give the writer that incentive without explicitly stating it – outside of Gordon instructing?

  67. “Your assumption that Gordon would have eventually seen your week 5 stories is incorrect, unless your writing is already at a level where you are getting past JJA consistently. This is quite possible.”

    I had a thought and was going somewhere with this, but without the complete thought, it could be construed as offensive. Sorry about that. I am familiar with CW, but I am not sure if it means that the writers are capable of getting by JJA. Bascially, I don’t know what the admission bar is beyond time and money.

    Assuming you weren’t passing JJA – as many of the FSF workshop students probably won’t be – Gordon wouldn’t be seeing them. Though, Gordon is probably hoping for students who get past JJA, but not him, and they just need that something extra to get them to the publishable level. And those writers are probably receiving limited feedback from Gordon and Sheila and all the other editors that they are submitting to.

    If a writer can’t get past JJA now, I can guarantee Gardner won’t be buying the story – unless the writer is phenomenal, but doesn’t realize that their story starts on page 10.

    Anyway, that’s where I was going with that thought.

  68. As Mary said @ 9 – “Every writer who goes to a workshop with an editor knows that the editors sometimes buy stories from the workshop group. That’s one of the reasons you go. ”

    I missed this earlier in the thread, but I would like to point out that it may be the reason SOME writers go, other writers just go because they’re hoping to learn something. I’ve done workshops where editors were instructors, but had no actual expectation that they would be more likely to buy a story from me afterward except in that my writing would hopefully be better and therefore worth buying. I think going into a workshop with an editor instructor with that in the forefront of your mind may lead to creating an embarrassing situation. All the more so for writers who are socially clueless.

  69. I am familiar with the workshop Mary and Patrick attended, and indeed received more than one phone call from attendees at that workshop while it was going on. I also chatted with Mary about the workshop itself some time after she got back from it.

    It’s not remotely the same thing as is being discussed here. It was not announced that Sheila Williams, for example, planned on run “selections three times a year” in Asimov’s.

    It’s also worth noting that indeed, a couple of the editors at the unnamed unadvertised workshop being discussed were actually in no position to buy a story from anyone, as they were not currently editing anything.

  70. If a writer can’t get past JJA now, I can guarantee Gardner won’t be buying the story – unless the writer is phenomenal, but doesn’t realize that their story starts on page 10.

    How on Earth can you guarantee this?

  71. Nick @ 84 – You’re right, I can’t. :) – but you get what I was saying there.

    Nick and ABW – I agree that the explicit statement is strange in the number that Gordon thinks Gardner might find, but as I asked in post 80 –

    How do you give that incentive when Gardner isn’t an acquiring editor?

    Of course in most workshops they never mention it or even try to explicitly state that it is not standard or likely to acquire manuscripts at the workshop. You don’t need to if there is an editor who can acquire something. Everyone knows.

    And yes, the other editors at my workshop weren’t acquiring editors, and are phenomenal instructors and I attended more workshops by them without acquiring editors involved as well as workshops with acquiring editors.

    I don’t know that I would have gone to my first workshop if there wasn’t an acquiring editor there though. Now that I have been around more, I realize how much I have to learn and don’t think of it as much.

    I honestly think that is the motive behind that announcement. I get where you guys are coming from. I agree, it’s a workshop. That’s the reason you should go. Not all writers are at the same point as you two or are as rational.

  72. And no, it’s not explicit, but for the slow-brained, you will be reminded that the editor has bought stories from the workshops in the past – Mary being the latest example.

    Please to recall, no one has ever at any time disputed this. You keep harping on it as though it’s under dispute, but it’s not.

    Look, you go to a charity auction and buy a date with a local celebrity. Now, sometimes on these dates the auction winner lucks out and has sex with their date!

    You go to another charity auction, which advertises not only a date for the winner, but a chance to have sex with the celebrity!

    You do not see the difference between those two scenarios? Cause one would interest the police and the other wouldn’t.

    The F&SF workshop deal isn’t prostitution, and doesn’t involve the same ethical problems. But there is a difference between something sometimes happening at a workshop, and things explicitly promised by a workshop.

    Your assumption that Gordon would have eventually seen your week 5 stories is incorrect, unless your writing is already at a level where you are getting past JJA consistently. This is quite possible.

    Well, I’m a writer, with a writer’s ego, so it’s really not possible for me to answer that question accurately. But I think that whether JJA would have passed my stories up to Gordon is immaterial–that’s the route one takes when one submits to F&SF. Gordon clearly has faith in JJA’s ability to reject things that would be a waste of Gordon’s time to read–and yes that includes stories of mine that JJA has failed to pass up. If being rejected by JJA weren’t essentially the same thing as being rejected by Gordon, Gordon would have found a new slush reader by now. The fact remains, I never needed to pay any kind of fee or jump through any hoops beyond properly formatting my manuscript in order to have the same chance at getting to Gordon’s desk as anyone.

    It’s easy to think of slush readers as barring your access to the “real” editor, and imagine that if only Gordon saw your stuff he’d love it, but honestly, if JJA rejects it, it’s because Gordon would have anyway.

  73. I don’t think we’re going to agree that this isn’t a big deal.

    I don’t see much difference in your two scenarios. To me, it’s a matter of one focusing the advertising on the Charity as opposed to what could happen on the Date.

    If sex was guaranteed – there would be an issue though.

    But now I want to have sex with a celebrity.

    :)

  74. >>It’s easy to think of slush readers as barring your
    >>access to the “real” editor, and imagine that if only Gordon saw
    >> your stuff he’d love it, but honestly, if JJA rejects it, it’s because >>Gordon would have anyway.

    Yup, when JJA was hired I went from “no-grabbies” from GvG to “no-grabbies” from JJA.

  75. I don’t think we’re going to agree that this isn’t a big deal.

    I never said it was a big deal. I said it was problematic. What we disagree on is whether there’s a difference between something maybe happening at an event (in this case a workshop) and explicitly stating that the potential something happening is part of what you’re paying for.

    It’s kind of like your refuting my statement that there is a difference with repeated assertions that said something does indeed happen sometimes. Which was never at issue.

    I don’t see much difference in your two scenarios. To me, it’s a matter of one focusing the advertising on the Charity as opposed to what could happen on the Date.

    I can assure you that local law enforcement would see a distinct difference.

    Either you’re willfully ignoring the actual argument, or you’re not actually capable of understanding it. Either way, it isn’t worth continuing to discuss the issue with you. I wish you luck in your future endeavors.

  76. Ann – I see it as three scenarios – not two.

    In your Charity event scenario – which is an excellent analogy –

    1. Support our cause – buy a date with a sexy bachelor

    2. Buy a date with a sexy single bachelor! You know what can happen between 2 consenting adults – nudge nudge – poke poke – know what I mean! Support our cause.

    3. Pay us money to have sex with our bachelor to support our charity

    I think we are talking about Scenario 2 – since he stated Gardner has the option.

    I understand how scenario 2 sounds an awful lot like scenario 3 and to many people it is no different, but it is – IMO. And I don’t see it as problematic.

    I guess I am just not capable of understanding it. I’m sure I am wrong. I always am.

  77. The distinction between scenarios two and three is jejune. In principle, a magazine’s editor can simply find nothing good to publish and then the magazine will miss an issue rather than offer up inferior content. In practice, this virtually never happens. (It does happen sometimes with writing contests.)

    I don’t see why the three slots wouldn’t be filled with three of the 100+ short stories being workshopped in the new venue. Indeed, it would be an important part of making sure that participants pay up for another round/year/whatever of workshopping. I also don’t see how the idea of standards plays into this at all. Anyone reading any magazine will surely perceive that not all content is of equal quality. So what?

  78. Clearly, I am wrong.

    I don’t see why he won’t select 6 or 10 or even 15 stories – pay beginning rates and get more people into the workshop! He didn’t say 3 was the maximum, just how much he was current planning for in his publishing schedule.

    :)

  79. Indeed, one would hope that if four awesome stories came out of the workshop, all four would be published. Why let one get away?

  80. It is a vendetta generated by the same people who have had issues with Gardner and Gordon in the past. And I have to be honest, as someone who is interested in the workshop, the opportunity to get Gardner’s feedback on a story project far outweighs the issue of, “Gee, I might get published in Gordon’s magazine.”

    I’m paying for the critique. That is all.

    Lastly, the whole payment issue is also a non starter. An established writer is going to get far more for their story than a brand new writer and I think the five cent per word standard stiffles and blocks far more than it helps.

    Besides that, plenty of crap makes it into the magazines anyway. I, for one, would be happy to have Gardner making a few picks again.

This is the place where you leave the things you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s