Monday, September 16, 2019

Progress, September 2019





I’m unsure if I have anything coming out this month, though the next Aurealis won’t be far away. What is worth blogging are two new placements during the first half of September which bring me to 82 overall.

First, my fantasy short The Demonologist of Kraith   was picked up on the 10th by the anthology series Fall Into Fantasy 2019, my second story with this stable (the first was One Shot Kill with their companion title Spring into SciFi 2018, early last year). Kraith is another of my “Avestium” tales, the fourth to be published so far.

Then on the 13th, my SF piece Rats was accepted by the other big Australian magazine Andromeda Spaceways, my second appearance with them. Rats is part of my cycle of stories detailing the descent of the world into non-inhabitability a hundred years from now.

Also of interest, my volume of submissions is greater than at any previous time, with my record for total number of submissions in play having twice reached 99. I was unable to find that extra submission to round it up to 100, no matter how hard I mined my material, though. I’m currently on 95, with new material in preparation.

Cheers, Mike Adamson

Thursday, August 15, 2019

In Print August 2019 (and Progress)



Just published, my Middle Stars short The Stars of Home is live at Trouble Among the Stars #3, which you can find here.

Recently sold, The Witch Who Wove Dreams was picked up by Aurealis, my fourth placement with them and 78th overall. I’m very proud of this as Aurealis is a leading science fiction title Down Under. I expect publication later in the year.

Rejection rate remains high, the market constriction certainly still seems to be in force. I have 96 submissions in play, though in real terms maybe a dozen less, as there are a few multiples among those, and a group of older submissions which may be dead or in limbo—it’s hard to think otherwise when queries go unreplied to, and one must make a call on when to declare them dead and move on.

My file of completed stories is up to 214 items, with plenty to come. I’ll be writing some mystery material next for anthologies open, and this could lead to new avenues of opportunity.

UPDATE 

Two acceptances have come in on consecutive days (27th & 28th of August), first my SF short The Man with the Alien Aura was accepted by the anthology Not Far From Roswell, then my fantasy short Pilgrim to the City of the Dawn scored a spot with the new JayHenge anthology Whigmaleeries and Wives' Tales. Not sure of publication schedule for the latter, but the former is due in October. Will post when news comes available. For now, here’s a screen shot from Submission Grinder, showing both!



Cheers, Mike Adamson

Friday, July 26, 2019

In Print, July 2019 (and Progress)



Well, maybe the last post’s gloom was not entirely justified, as I’ve scored two placements during this month so far, bringing me to eleven for the year. I’m not ready to say the downturn is over, neither is at pro rates so the new tax year’s income is building slowly, but…a placement is a placement.

Pelagus was the second story I ever placed, and was published in the anthology Ecotastrophe II in 2017. It was just picked as a reprint up by the British online magazine The New Accelerator, and you can read it on the site. You need to subscribe, but a pound a month is very reasonable. Go to:
                                   

The other placement was also in the UK, my Victorian short Silver Scales was picked up by Kzine, my second appearance with them, and is slated at this time for issue 26, due in January 2020.

Also, I’ve had some short-listings recently, “The Witch Who Wove Dreams” at Aurealis, and “One Way Street” at Stupefying Stories. Fingers crossed on these and the other nine short-listings in play. I have 85 submissions in progress at this time and plenty more stories to write

Hoping for action in the months ahead,

Cheers, Mike Adamson

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Patterns in the Data



I’ve been writing the posts for this blog since May 2016 and have broken down my market results data in fairly statistical fashion—it must be the ol’ scientific training coming to the fore. Various patterns emerge from data, this is how we observe the subtler workings of the world around us, and I have noticed some trends worth discussing, especially for benefit of anyone considering getting into the field at this time.

It would be fair to say that any particular endeavour which requires one to mesh with the workings of society in general is likely to reflect the issues and mechanisms of society in one way or another. This is somewhat perplexing from the standpoint of writing, especially speculative fiction, as the field divorces itself thematically from the real world much of the time. Yet it must also reflect something of that world to find resonance with its readership, and writers could do nothing worse than write in a vacuum. But, all creativity aside, marketing one’s work is an entirely different area, calling for thorough meshing with society, and in this the influences of the “real world” become painfully apparent.

Every writer is familiar with rejection. I have posted on this subject in the past with regard to how a writer copes with being turned away. Nothing has changed in that regard, but circumstances are “pushing the envelope” as pilots used to say. It seems like the “nos” are piling up at an unprecedented rate these days, and I checked my figures to see to what degree I was imagining it.

I’m not. I keep a record of how many days elapse and how many rejections accumulate between acceptances, and if this is any sort of metric for the state of the market, the market is in deep trouble—and by implication, so are writers.

The pattern I observed over a couple of years was simple enough: a “long period” acceptance (defined as 10, 20 or more days) followed by two or three short-period acceptance (0-15 days or thereabouts), then back to a long-period wait. This reflected never less than fifty-something submissions in play, sometimes over sixty, and supported 32 acceptances in 2017, and 26 in 2018.

About September 2018 I noticed a significant downturn in rate of acceptance, and compensated by working my endeavour harder. In the early months of 2019 I raised my submission volume by about a third and now have never less than eighty-something submissions in play. This automatically means there will be proportionally more rejections in any given period, I understood and accepted this from the beginning, but the numbers are saying something else.

My submission rate has risen by one third, but my rejection rate is now double what it was just three months ago, and is still accelerating. That really is the bottom line—it is now much harder to match stories to markets than it was a year ago, let alone three years ago when I began.

Why should this be so? The obvious answer is that the world has gone downhill in the last three years and the economic structures have flowed down to street level. The first thing that goes by the board is leisure spending, and indulging in fictional escapism is fully as much a leisure activity as watching a movie or going to a pub; it is also less popular than either, so there is no real surprise that the publishing field is suffering. I’m sure there are many statistics out there to be mined, but from my own observations I can make some simple inferences. I began submitting in January 2016 and since then, and just amongst the group of outlets to which I have submitted, twenty-three markets have closed! These include professional market-leaders such as Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, Apex and Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show. Every publisher has a very good reason for retiring from the game, few do so willingly, and while it is true that new publishers have launched new markets (DreamForge, Legendary, Space and Time and so forth) it is an inescapable conclusion that the marketplace is tighter, harder and less forgiving for publishers. They are obviously not selling enough copies to make it attractive to continue, and in some cases new publishers have bankrolled their early editions to the tune of several thousand dollars in the faith that sales will pick up and their enterprise will become solvent.

For writers this means a shrinking marketplace, especially where seasoned, well-established outlets are concerned, and consequently greater competition. At this time The Bronzeville Bee, for instance, turns away eighty stories for every one they buy, and it is quite usual for an anthology to receive a thousand submissions or more, from which to select ten or twenty. Result: a lot of disappointed writers, less ability than ever to make any kind of living from writing, and ever greater headaches for publishers who battle gamely on in the face of a reading public whose leisure dollars are more and more often required for necessities.

So the downturn in publishing can be laid at the door of austerity, capitalism gone mad, whatever you want to call it, the diversion of capital from the general public to the elite. Without getting political, we live in the real world and are subject to its tides and pressures, and can do very little about it other than hone our craft ever sharper, keep the faith and work harder, as everyone is always exhorted to. I hope to get my submissions up over a hundred by branching into other genres, such as mystery, trying for a bite of that particular cherry. And above all, maintain the perhaps pathetic belief that better times will come and, when they do, publishing will resurge and take we writers up with it.

I’ve seen diminishing returns over the last three years in terms of total numbers of placements over time, yet maintained the same relative income in the last two years, so the average value of acceptances has indeed increased. In addition, come September, the US professional rate is going up by a third, and when lucky enough to score a pro placement this will be very good on the exchange rate. So I’ll stay on the horse and pursue my career, and hopefully in a year will be posting some more positive observations.

Now, I must post this and go work on a story…

Cheers, Mike Adamson

Sunday, June 2, 2019

In Print June 2019



Aurealis #121 was released at the beginning of June, featuring my story The Stranger of Morden. Here’s the Amazon purchase link ($2.99 download!):


May was entirely quiet, I’m in one of my longest dry spells ever, just about to tick over to the highest number of rejections since the last acceptance in my whole writing experience, though I have a couple of weeks to go before it’s the longest period in days. I guess you just get slow patches, and the tougher the market becomes, the fiercer the competition, the more likely they are.

Never the less, I picked up a short-listing with Timeworn Literary Journal, for a Roman-era short story with an occult twist, I’m expecting a decision on that in the next couple of months. I’ve been as high as 89 submissions in play, and am at 86 at this moment. I expect a few of the older ones to go inactive shortly, I have a number of queries out and if there is no reply they are by default extinct and stories can be directed.

I’ve not written much lately, May was a month for doing other things, but I’m composing again at this time and it feels good to be putting words on paper again!

Best wishes,

Mike Adamson

Thursday, May 2, 2019

In Print May 2019 (and Progress)



Things have been a bit slow in the last six or seven months, slow enough that I have got out of the way of regular postings, which is a shame as there have certainly been things to report, just nothing actually appearing in print. Thus no immediate motivation to get a report up since the end of February, which must be the longest period this blog has ever lain idle.

I’ve scored five placements since then, however. Just one in March: my SF outing The Omega Manifesto, written in 2015, was picked up by Four Star Stores for a release either late this year or early next. This was followed by my best April on record, with four placements.

I have a second outing with Storyhack Action and Adventure, who picked up my historical adventure piece Rakes and the Pirates of Malabar. At over 13000 words this is one of my longer placed works, and will hopefully kick off a series of adventures about my sword-wielding ex-East India Company agent Edgar Quincannon Rakes, in the violent, exotic world of India in 1837.

Next up, I scored a place with the Australian anthology Worlds of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror with my enviro-military actioner Tanks in the Snow. I wrote this story in 1994 and it’s been through a few drafts since, the underlying thrust being completely altered as history overtook it, while the action was preserved. It’s set in the Russian Arctic in the decades ahead, and offers a glimmer of hope in the battle against climate change.

Third for the month was an outing under a pseudonym for a US anthology, which I’ll keep separate from my mainstream writing, and the fourth for April locked in my third appearance in Aurealis, Australia’s flag-carrier SF magazine. This was a short-listing maturing as a sale. My story The Stranger of Morden concerns mysterious doings in a Dorsetshire village when an Elizabethan portrait is discovered in a country manor, depicting someone who doesn’t seem to be quite human. The piece has been slated for the next issue, which might be out this month – in which case I’ll post the cover here.


Last post, I commented on the way titles are shuffling, with Constellary Tales opening, making up at least somewhat for the closure of Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, and a similar situation has occurred in the last month. Apex has announced its termination on indefinite hiatus as of #120, due in the next couple of months, while Dream Forge has launched and Legendary is forthcoming. All of these titles, coming and going, are pro markets, certainly Legendary aspires to become so as soon as possible. From the writer’s perspective this keeps the range of markets fairly stable, which is a good thing, and maintains the supply of fresh, vibrant new writing to the ever-hungry reading public.

Also worth mentioning, the rate at which “professional” is defined as commencing by the Science Fiction Writers Guild of America is set to rise in September this year, from 6 to 8 cents US per word. This is very good news for writers!

Hopefully I’ll be posting the new Aurealis cover later in the month (edits have not yet come in on the story) and I have 85 submissions in play, several being new stories written especially for themed markets. I have high hopes of finding some placements among them. There are two themed markets reading over the next few months for which I also have projects in note form to work up. I have completed fourteen stories so far this year.

Cheers, stay tuned for news, Mike Adamson

Header image from a royalty-free site.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Fan Mail and Feedback



It’s not often a writer gets comprehensive feedback in the form of a review of published work, and so far my story Tymass by Ring-Light with Heroic Fantasy Quarterly has garnered three such! The first was some fan-mail to the mag itself which the editor kindly sent on to me, and there have since been two reviews of HFQ #39, released at the beginning of February.

The longer and more comprehensive can be read here at Quick Sip Reviews:

The shorter appeared at Tangent, an online sci-fi review portal, and can be found here:

It’s certainly nice to know one’s work carries merit in the eyes of readers! Clearly it must have something going for it to make it into print in the first place, but one becomes inured to either blank rejections or the cursory “sorry, but your story didn’t impress us very much” sort of formula comment one sees from the high-flowthrough pro titles, so appreciative comment is something of a new experience!

I have a couple of new short-listings in play. Two “Middle Stars” stories are in contention at the moment, “Windwalkers” at New Myths, and “Mano รก Xeno” at Constellary Tales. The latter is a brand new pro-paying market, and I’m thrilled to be getting a second look there.

As a point of interest, the industry needs pro markets desperately, and the coming of Constellary will hopefully go some way to counterbalance, from the writer’s perspective, the demise of Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, due to close in June. The fewer pro titles, the fiercer the competition, between the worldwide stable of pro writers, is likely to become. Losing even one tightens the acceptance odds on the rest!

Hoping for a few placements in the not too distant future,

Cheers, Mike Adamson