The Virtue of Smaller Markets
(I put a post on submitting short stories to science fiction markets in a message board, and I think it’s interesting enough that I’ll repost it here for discussion. Have at it:)
I’m planning to send out some short story work this year, and I’ll tell you why it’s rather more likely that I’ll submit to small press venues as opposed to some of the larger markets. It’s simple: because smaller venues accept electronic submissions and larger ones don’t.
To be fair, I understand why they don’t. Several years ago I ran a humor area on America Online and I bought about 20 humor pieces a month — and told my writers to submit through snail mail. The reason: The price of postage acted as a first-line bozo filter, protecting me from every half-assed, dashed-off thought. And it worked; I still had a slush pile, but it wasn’t anywhere the size it would have been if I had let people have an e-mail box into which they could send material.
Be that as it may, on this side of the millennial dividing line, all my professional work is handled electronically, both in my creative and corporate sphere. It’s more flexible, and quicker, to use and send electronic files. I don’t even own a printer anymore, and haven’t for more than a year. By and large I haven’t missed it, either personally or professionally. It only becomes a problem if I want to submit work to, say, F&SF or Asimov’s or SciFiction.
I don’t begrudge these their submission guidelines — they have them for a reason, just as I had my reasons for not accepting electronic submissions when I was an editor. It simply means that when it comes time to send stuff out, they won’t be on my list. That being the case, I am deeply pleased we live in an era with a thriving “small press” scene, because many of them *do* accept electronic submissions. When I schlep my wares, I expect my first stop will be Strange Horizons, and then after I’m rejected there I’ll go on to other places.
I do wonder as time goes on how feasible it will be not to accept electronic submissions. I accept that I’m almost certainly an outlier — the vast majority of writers hoping to be published are not as lazy as I when it comes to shopping their work — but at the same time I think the current and emerging generation of writers is likely to be more comfortable doing business electronically; I do think it’s a matter of time.
I hope so — I’d like to see those markets that don’t accept electronic submissions today become available to me eventually. In the meantime, I’ll be a small press short story writer.