Asimov’s Accepting Electronic Submissions

w00t! Here’s the news from Asimov’s editor Sheila Williams:

Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine is now accepting electronic submissions. Authors should read our manuscript guidelines at http://www.asimovs.com/info/guidelines.shtml before submitting material online. Online submissions of stories and poetry can be sent to us via our new form at http://asimovs.magazinesubmissions.com/index.php. Authors with a print copy of their story currently under consideration should not resubmit the story electronically. I will respond to those stories via the traditional SASE.

Note that Asimov’s has a specific gateway for electronic submissions which you’ll need to use. As always I strongly suggest following submissions guidelines to the letter, lest you be branded too much trouble to bother with.

Good on Sheila and Asimov’s for opening this particular door; hopefully Analog and Fantasy & Science Fiction won’t be too far behind.

54 thoughts on “Asimov’s Accepting Electronic Submissions

  1. That’s an interesting URL — looks like Dell Magazines is rolling this out as a standard interface. I wonder if that means that Alfred Hitchcock’s and Ellery Queen’s will be doing the electronic submissions thing soon too.

  2. Timely news — I was getting ready this morning to print and mail a story to Asimov’s and this will be much easier. Looks like Asimov’s has the same e-submissions engine as Clarkesworld.

  3. I know, I know, .doc format is the vast majority of cases, but would it hurt THAT much to allow subs in an OpenDocument Format as well? OpenOffice.org has been around for years and is available for free on all 3 major computer platforms. People in an industry geared to the future should encourage open standards, imho.

  4. Tom, I feel the .doc pain (a quarter of the subs I receive in .doc don’t even open correctly, apparently the newest version of Word save in a format which reads as “broken” to older readers and converters) and while I personally love receiving .odt I think in general a place which accepts .rtf is the best to hope for in the short term. Often OO.org mangles .rtf export if you do “interesting” things but it turns out decently for a simple ms. (Actually I prefer PDF the most of all in terms of making sure that the recipient will be reading exactly how I want it formatted, but that can be a pain in the rear to turn into an editable manuscript after acceptance.)

    And in general: of *course* Asimov’s does this the moment I send my best SF ms via snail mail across the pond to the UK, not to be heard from for a few months. Does that make it “whale mail”?

  5. And yes, I know this isn’t really the proper venue to make my complaint, Asimov’s is, but still. This goes on at schools all the time and it irritates me there, too – the expectation or assumption that a person will only be using one company’s products and no support is necessary for others. Luckily OO.o supports saving files in the .doc format.

  6. Scalzi, does this mean you’ll now be subbing short stories to Asimov’s, now that you don’t have to use a printer? ;)

  7. Really? Asimov’s finally starts accepting electronic submissions and the first thing we do is bitch about they don’t accept a particular and very minor format? Dude, OO saves in both doc and rtf, the two most commonly used document formats in the publishing industry. Selecting the “save as” option is not ONEROUS.

  8. Let me be among the first to welcome Asimov’s to the 90’s!!

    Seriously though, very good. Of course F&SF will probably still have the faster turnaround.

  9. The thing on my mind (not that submitting to Asimov’s is in my near future, since I mostly write fantasy) is the difference in presentation. Sure, there may be an electronic submission form, now. But does a nice, clean, well-formatted hardcopy presentation still make a better impression?

  10. Next up, Asimovs will be updating their office system to use one of them fangled telephone answering machines. It even has a little miniature cassette tape in it, just like on the Rockford Files.

  11. John, fair enough, saving in .doc isn’t onerous.
    What can we (readers and potential writers of sf) do to encourage companies to allow manuscript submission in a non-proprietary format, in addition to the vast majority that are .rtf or .doc?
    RTF is cross-platform, but it is also a Microsoft proprietary format.

  12. Tom, as long as any Mac (with Textedit), Linux (with OO), or Windows machine (with whatever the default text editor there is) can save to the Doc format, I can’t imagine Asimov’s really having any incentive to change. And being told by potential writers that they don’t like the format isn’t going to convince them.

    Other than the format being a Microsoft proprietary one, what exactly is the argument against .doc?

  13. I just want to jump in and de-lurk for a moment, because it looks like Neil Clarke is watching…

    Hey, Mr. Clarke! Thank you so much for helping Asimov’s with this! You’ve done a lot of people a huge favor!

  14. Thank you Mr. Clarke for helping Asimov’s move to allowing electronic submission! It’s definitely appreciated.

    #15 Adam -That IS the main argument. I know it’s “just easier” to accept the way things are right now, but there are recognized standards for ODF (.odt being the main example) and I guess I think that whenever possible, non-proprietary formats should be allowed (NOT made mandatory, just an additional option). Why is this considered an unreasonable imposition?

  15. Yay! SF can has futurez again! Much kudos to Sheila Williams. Next stop: a renaissance of short-story and serial space opera? Why, now that I won’t have to extend my mortgage to send the MS trans-pond, I’ve a good mind to write Descendants of the Diffraction Grating on the spot, for her special benefit.

    [MUSE appears, brandishing champagne bucket.]

    Which I shall, of course, write in Oo.mrs, and gladly save in .doc format until our newly electric overlords have got used to the joys of technotopia. One rocket-stage at a time!

    [MUSE dumps ice-water over COMMENTER. Swigs champagne, belches delicately. Exit MUSE.)

    No, really. I’d pretty much written off the Big Three some time since; and now the dam breaks at last.

  16. The marginal pay graph implied by their beginner rates is interesting. If I’m reading it correctly, your first 7,500 words earn you $0.06 each, your next 5,000 words earn you nothing, and then the 12,501st word earns you $175.05 (with subsequent words getting you $0.05).

    (I realize that quality and quantity, as well as quantity and effort expended, can have little– or even inverse– relationship. But still, there’s an interesting set of incentives implied by this setup.)

  17. Of course the first thing being discussed is the war on file formats. Whoever thought that e-subbing was free of issues?

    Frankly I find RTF files much more polite. Though it might not be 100% impossible, it is much harder to attach a virus to an RTF file as opposed to Word’s .DOC variants which can launch all sorts of macros at whim. And actually, I’ve been amazed at how well Track Document Changes actually survives the conversion to RTF, when one gets to the editing stage. (grin)

    Dr. Phil

  18. In her interview with Charles Tan at SF Signal, Sheila Williams says “Asimov’s will be beta testing this system for the other Dell fiction magazines. If the process works well for us, then one long-term goal is for some of the other magazines to follow suit.” It’s not unreasonable to think that Analog might move to electronic submissions sooner rather than later. (F&SF, of course, is not a Dell magazine.)

  19. This is excellent news. With my summer goal of writing multiple shorts in addition to my novel, I just might have to take them up on this, if I can get one polished enough.

  20. Why is this considered an unreasonable imposition?

    Because catering to a handful of computer dorks doesn’t make anyone’s life easier. 99% of people who use word processors know what .doc means. It’s the business standard and publishing is a business.

    Also, setting up guidelines with very clear format rules helps weed out the nincompoops who quibble about formatting preferences. Complaining about file formats is as fruitless as bitching about fonts. “Courier is ugly and I refuse to see my pretty prose in it! Why won’t mean old editors except my MS in Papyrus?!”

  21. Woooohoooo!

    I’d prefer to see PDF supported, myself — it’s the best, most open thing I’ve found for distributing documents across platforms, and it shouldn’t be any harder to turn a PDF into camera-ready copy than a printed manuscript. That said, this is such a big improvement that the format issue doesn’t really detract from it at all. Well done to Asimov’s, and I hope to see the other magazines follow suit shortly.

  22. This is great news! Hopefully, the other ‘we do not accept e-Subs’ magazines will change their policy soon. :)

    @19

    The pay for the middle wordage is listed after the other two.

    “We pay on acceptance, and beginners get 6.0 cents a word to 7,500 words, 5.0 cents a word for stories longer than 12,500 words, and $450 for stories between those lengths.”

    So for stories that fall between those two ranges you would get $450 flat.

  23. computer dorks

    I believe the etymology for the word “dork” is that it comes from a slang term for the word “penis”. Just thought you might want to know what you’re calling people when you say that.

    The marginal pay graph implied by their beginner rates is interesting.

    “beginners get 6.0 cents a word to 7,500 words, 5.0 cents a word for stories longer than 12,500 words, and $450 for stories between those lengths.”

    Hm, 7500*0.06 = $450. So, you get a nice linear rate from zero to 7500 words.

    At 12499 words, you still only get $450, which is, uhm, $450/12499 = 3.6 cents/word?

    But if you write 12500 words, you get 5 cents a word? So, that one extra word from 12499 to 12500 means your check jumps from $450 to (12500*0.05)=$625???

    If you graph that with the X axis being total word count and the Y axis being total paid to author, you get a ramp from teh origin up to 7500 words ($450), then it goes flat ($450) until 12499 words, and then it jumps from $450 at 12499 to $625 at 12500 words, and then it slopes up from there?

    If you graph teh x axis being total word count and the Y axis being cents-per-word, you start out flat 5 cents per word till 7500 words. From there you slope down until you hit 3.6 cents per word at 12499, adn then you jump vertically to 5 cents-per-word at 12000 and up.

    It mostly satisfies the SFWA requirement for 5 cents per word for membership, except for a small range of stories from 9,000 words to 12,000 words, where it dips below the 5 cents per word mark.

    That’s… weird.

  24. If I did all that math right, they’d have to adjust their pay slightly to keep it above 5c/word:

    0-7500 words => 6c/word
    7500-9000 => $450
    9000-and up => 5c/word

    I think that would also result in a graph with no vertical jumps in either pennies-per-word or total-check-for-a-story at various points like their current scale has.

  25. words => total pay
    0000 => $000.00
    linear up to…
    7499 => $449.94
    7501 => $450.00
    8999 => $450.00
    9001 => $450.05
    linear from here, up to…
    12500=> $625.00

    Yeah, that looks a lot better. It’s linear at all times, the slopes never go negative, and most importantly it’s a continuous graph with no vertical jumps.

    I’ll guess that their word limit for any story is 12,500 words. And that they really meant that the pay rate switched at 7500 words, not 12500 words.

    12,500 words is a long short story,and I can’t imagine they would indicate a pay scale from “12,500 words and up” for short stories.

  26. Greg @28: I’m aware what dork means and used it on purpose, to distinguish Tom G from the class of all computer nerds, who are a generally helpful and positive lot, not the sort of socially inept goober who would demand an entire industry cater to his software formatting desires, so as to avoid the onerous task of having to select “save as” from a drop-down menu or, Shai-Hulud forbid, change his preferences.

  27. @16,17 You’re welcome. I enjoyed having the opportunity to work with Sheila on this. Hopefully more magazines will follow her lead.

    @24 I can’t speak for Sheila, but I don’t take PDF submissions because I like having control over the document. I can change fonts, margins, formatting and track revisions. I wouldn’t give that up. PDF was designed for transporting print-ready files, not flexibility.

    @32 The two aren’t connected. Sheila and I were already talking about online submissions when the Sofanaut thing happened.

  28. @11 Neatness still counts.

    @24 I can’t take notes on PDFs on my electronic reader. They aren’t as easy to read on the reader as the converted files. Also, I edit in Word and we format stories in Quark. If you sent me a PDF and I decided to buy the story, I’d still have to get the story from you in a format we could edit and format properly for the magazine. As John pointed out on a post on this subject last summer, one of the advantages of electronic submissions is that we don’t have to ask the author for an electronic copy of a story after we decide to buy it. One added bonus is that this system prevents authors from rewriting stories between the submission of their paper copy and when they send me the electronic version. That bonus should make my proofreaders life a lot easier.

  29. @40 Shiela, I guess what I was getting at is whether a hard copy (being by its nature in a more professional-looking package) is going to unconsciously affect attitudes of editors. But by your comment it almost sounds like you are either going e-submission only or e-submission preferred, anyway, so perhaps my musing was irrelevant, at least with respect to Asimov’s.

  30. Neil, Sheila, while you guys are here, you realize that your page says this:

    “beginners get 6.0 cents a word to 7,500 words, 5.0 cents a word for stories longer than 12,500 words, and $450 for stories between those lengths.”

    but you might have meant this:

    “beginners get 6.0 cents a word to 7,500 words, 5.0 cents a word for stories longer than 9,000 words, and $450 for stories between those lengths.”

    Otherwise, for stories that are between 9,000 words and 12,499 words, you’re actually paying less than 5 cents a word.

    ex: a 10,000 word story gets $450.
    $450/10,000 => 4.5 cents per word.

    Your approach also has the weird effect that a 12,499 word story gets $450, but a 12,501 word story gets $625 for writing one extra word.

  31. #37, Keith –
    I’m not a socially inept goober most of the time.
    It was inappropriate for me to vent about formatting requirements in this thread. I’m sorry, John, and whoever else was annoyed.
    I don’t know to express my feelings better.

  32. Kevin @24
    What Sheila said. I work in layout and printing, and while I love PDFs for maintaining formatting (A problem I’ve had in the past submitting my Mac files to workshops), if you handed a typesetter a PDF and expected them to flow it into a layout, you’d get some very angry looks.
    PDFs are an end of the road file, not something you might need to make changes to. While there are limited editing capabilities, you might as well be handing someone hard copy.

  33. @41 Stephen, the manuscript should be formatted exactly the same way you would for a print submission. See William Shunn’s Guide to Proper Manuscript Format http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html.

    @42 Greg, it’s actually so much more complicated than that. You’re right that the rate changes at 9000 words for beginners, but the rate changes at higher word counts for authors who are paid at higher rates. The guidelines were written to be inclusive, if confusing. I’ll see if we can fix it at some point, but any fix will probably end up being just as confusing as the current information.

  34. I wonder if anyone’s tried submitting with a combination of the sffms LaTeX macro package and tex2doc for .doc conversion.

    I’ve looked at sffms+LaTeX for years and it always seemed like it should be the ideal tool for an author who wanted an archival quality writing format. But I don’t know anyone who actually uses it.

  35. @25

    Noooooooooooooo, I also posted a submission yesterday. But I bet you didn’t post it from AUSTRALIA, DID YOU????

    This is wonderful news for those of us on the other side of the word. Hooray!

  36. Hooray for international writers! Now I can stop pestering my American friends for stamps. This is BIG news . . .

  37. Sheila Williams @40, Elizabeth Coleman @44:

    That’s good to know. I didn’t realize how much you expected to mark up the manuscript, though from previously reading publishing industry people’s conversations on the ‘net I think I probably should have. PDF really should also grow better annotation support, but, you use the software you have, not the software you wish you had, and your point about it being an end-point format still remains. And I guess CS journals take LaTeX source, not PDF, so it’s not any different there either.

    (The poor support of most ebook readers for PDF is still a sore issue with me, since that’s most of what I want one for. Though I wonder if the PDF reflow stuff being developed for them could be packaged separately to make getting an editable document out of a PDF easier…)

    I guess the point of having standards, no matter how good or bad they are intrinsically, is that they’re standard, and so you can build your workflow around them and be able to expect some consistency.

    M. Ellis @47: Thank you! I was most of the way through implementing the guidelines with the memoir class, mostly as an exercise in bending LaTeX to my whims, but it’s nice to have something a bit more finished.

  38. W00T!!! I’m actually working on a short targetted specifically for Asimov.

    Which means it will end up a freebie on Ed’s Bitchin’ SciFi Site (Bringing Real SF To Geocities Since 2001!), but still…

  39. It is important to note that both Open Office and Abiword mangle standard manuscript formatting when a document is saved as rtf.

    One editor commented on the lack of line breaks and indented paragraphs in a story I submitted and pointed out that this is often an issue with rtf conversion. The manuscript looked perfectly fine in Open Office. It’s better to play safe and submit files in doc format.

    Personally I prefer to use sffms+LaTeX and would rather send a hard copy to an important market than risk a manuscript being dumped because of formatting issues.

  40. @50: Hope you like it. I’d be curious how it works out. The one problem with TeX based stuff is the output was originally assumed to be the printed page, and these days it’s somewhat less so. I’m sure it’s possible to cobble together a set of macros and programs to do, say, TeX to epub, but it’s not something the casual writer’s going to do.

  41. Sheila: “the rate changes at higher word counts for authors who are paid at higher rates”

    If I may ask, what’s the breakdown for the higher rate?

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