Tuesday, February 01, 2005

I Want my SciFi Blog

I met the editor of the science fiction magazine Neo-opsis at Norwescon last year and sent him a copy of one of my stories soon after. The other day it came back with a rejection E-mail. It was a personal note, however, and the editor was good enough to enquire how my novel was going and invited me to submit more work. So I did. 10 minutes later. Two hours after that I got a an electronic rejection notice that included the name of my story, its submission number, and personal critique with suggestions for improvement (hint: in the unpublished writer world, a personal rejection is a good thing; it means they bothered to read it).

This got me to thinking. Fiction magazines are routinely swamped with submissions. Editors resort to rejecting manuscripts outright on the most superficial grounds (wrong font, wrong size, first sentence isn't spectacular). I wonder if a savvy internet solution might not improve this situation. Wouldn't it be great if when a submission came in it was automatically given a ticket number and tagged with notes on past submissions and communications? What if the story was presented to the editor in the reading format of their choice? What if the editor, opening the story, immediately saw the history of their correspondence with that author? Would editors find this useful? Would it speed up the winnowing process?

While we're at it, lets publish our magazine online. And instead of trying to make it look like a print mag or Web Design 101 project, lets make it a blog. Instead of publishing once a month, we'll publish every time we get a good story. We'll invite the authors to correspond with readers in the comments section. For some reason, I haven't seen anyone doing this.

Periodically we'll publish a paper anthology for subscribers to generate some revenue, or we could try a premium search service, advertising, book sales, or Amazon associateship.

Right now I have the latest print issue of Locus in front of me. It's their annual "Year in Review" issue, featuring dismal looking charts of declining circulation of the major Science Fiction and Fantasy fiction magazines (hint: the lucky ones have only lost half their circ in the last 20 years). Yet the consensus seems to be that more fiction is being written and that people still want to read it. Do we need a paradigm shift? Anyone?


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