Sunday, October 25, 2020

Tough Times for Writers

It's been quite a while since I posted, months in fact, and that's a barometer of how far down things have been. After a really good start to the year, and a good start to the new half-year as well, at least in terms of earnings from prior placements, the wheels seemed to fall off a few months ago.

I noticed the market went very flat in September 2018, for six or more months I was placing in dribs and drabs and I wondered if the global publishing situation was reacting to wider forces. Things improved in 2019, but have gone very flat once again this year. One might readily suggest the pandemic is behind it, but the indications are that people are turning to reading in greater numbers than before as a direct result of isolation strategies... Maybe publishers are being more cautious, or people are reading more for free online, but magazines are both going under and opening on a constant basis.

I recently had my first ever “kill fee” situation—when a story has placed with a market but the market goes under before they can get the edition out. This is a great shame as the market paid very nicely indeed, and will honour their contributors with a 10% gratuity. It's better than nothing, but I'd much sooner have had a healthy market, where publishers, writers and readers all win.

I have just emerged from my second-longest ever dry spell, 59 rejections in 51 days, and this was after two longish periods between drinks immediately previous. Three placements in 110 days is not a lot for a short story writer, and only one of them was with a pro market (which paid nicely, to be sure). In the same period I had 98 rejections, and that does get real old, yet overall, all submission against all acceptances, my figures are still pretty good.

What brought me out of the drought was a story placed with an online pro market being selected to feature in their yearly anthology—not actually a new placement, but a welcome second outing for an existing success.

The industry feels rather precarious at the moment, yet there is plenty of activity, new markets opening up, others forging ahead with new plans and ongoing successes. So I guess one can only stay on the horse, believe in one's own skill and integrity, and do the very best one can.

Normal service will resume shortly—I hope!

Cheers, Mike Adamson

Friday, July 31, 2020

In Print, May, June and July, 2020 (and Progress)

I can hardly believe it's been months since I posted! I'm not sure what happened, though the caveat of “I've been busy” certainly applies.

Picking up from my hundredth placement, reported a post or two below, I can say I'm currently on 115, seventeen at pro rates. Now, several of these are non-paying reprints in a series of anthologies from the Australian outfit Black Hare, the “Lockdown” series created to provide a wealth of reading material for fans of the speculative genres in this time of global pandemic. Folks need something to read while they're indoors, and though in many parts of Australia the lockdown has eased, there are others where the reverse is very much true and the series of anthologies is continuing apace. Here is the sales page for all the Black Hare volumes:

Back on April 21st, three of my pieces were accepted for Lock Down Sci-Fi, these being reprints of Rex, Dreamworld and North of 25, the latter two being “Middle Stars” stories, and the first appearing in the third volume (not yet out). Then a week later, my Victorian mystery The White Calf and the Wind was picked up by the pro market Hybrid Fiction (due for publication in September), bringing me to four for the month.

May opened with my flash The View from Dystopia being picked up by Shelter of Daylight from Hiraeth Books, formerly Alban Lake, edition still forthcoming. Then I promptly placed two more reprints with Black Hare, this time for the Horror series, The Forgotten Supremo and Fury Never Dies. Toward the end of the month I placed an extra with their Sci-Fi series, Dreamlogger. This was another four placement month in a row.

June turned out to be my best month ever, with six placements. The month kicked off with the pro market Little Blue Marble picking up my flash Solitude, in Silent Sun, and asking for a rewrite which almost doubled its length. The story went live on July 17th, read it free here: . Ten days later, No Sleep Podcast picked up a reprint of my SF/horror piece Fear of the Dark, which will be assembled as an audio recording. Then I had placements every couple of days, first Andromeda Spaceways picked up my “Middle Stars” piece Strangers on the Shore, which was published today, August 1st 2020. Click here to find the sales page . Next, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly closed the deal on my fantasy piece The Silver Light of Forever, which had gone through a couple of rounds of rewriting with them and is due to appear in their 47th edition, in February next year. One day later the anthology Unbound IV picked up The Purslane Menace, my John Wyndham tribute piece, and a few days later an SF piece on a pseudonym found a berth with a US outlet, these latter still to appear

July was quiet, to balance out all that action, just a single score, my Lovecraftian piece A Dream of Swords and Blossoms was taken on by Lovecraftiana for the Walpurgisnacht edition next year.

Deep Sea, from Black Hare, which took my story Prophecy of the Beast on March 1st, has also been released, you can find the order page here:

Pole To Pole's anthology Twenty Thousand Leagues Remembered also released in July, with my story The Silent Agenda, you can find the volume here:

And last but not least, Eldritch Dream Realms, from Hiraeth was released in July, featuring my story The Golden Land, placed in October last year. Here's the sales link:

After all that momentum it feel a bit like “the wheels have fallen off” again, but I'm sure the situation is temporary. I've not written as much this years as I would have liked, and the emphasis is starting to shift toward novels, to take this enterprise to a new level. I'll still be marketing the short stories and inevitably contributing to the ongoing arcs I've established, but long-form work is overdue!

Stay tuned for developments!


Thursday, April 2, 2020

In Print, April 2020

My first item going on release in a while, my adventure story Rakes and the Pirates of Malabar has the cover of Storyhack #6. It’s the opening of a proposed series of adventures for a soldier-of-fortune out of the Sharpe mold, swordplay and musketry in the exotic east, the umbrella title being Rakes of India. I look forward to writing the next outing—this one flowed from the keyboard with ease! Think Rudyard Kipling, Talbot Mundy or Robert E. Howard, and you get the picture, though I’m writing at an earlier date than them.

The electronic edition is now available, the print edition is still in preparation.

Kindle: click here.

Paperback: click here.

I have several new stories to show Storyhack when they’re reading again, and hope to contribute for many years to come!


Mike Adamson

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Big One Hundred

I have to smile—my last post talked about a long dry spell, not a single placement in February, which was my worst February since 2016, before I had placed anything at all! But I just had my best March ever, four placements. And three of them at pro rates! The last is my one hundredth placement and you can bet I’m feeling very chuffed about that!

On March 1st my horror piece Prophecy of the Beast was picked up by the anthology Deep Sea, from the Australian publisher Black Hare Press, my second story with them. The following day my SF short Moongrove by Earthlight found a home with Selene Quarterly: I wrote it for them a year ago but missed their submission window by a couple of days, so am very glad it was right up their alley. They’re still paying the older pro rate, but I’m happy to count it as such.

Three days later, I had an amazing windfall placement: I sent my Sherlock Holmes piece The Mystery of the Perspicacious Waif to Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, and they bought it promptly, but, as the story driver introduces an occult element, the editor suggested it appear in another title from their stable—nothing less than the grand old lady of American Horror fiction, Weird Tales! WT pays right up in the pro range, so I couldn’t be happier.

Then I had a three week drought. The pandemic was starting to bite in that period and I wondered if the flow-on effects would mean an especially long time between drinks, but yesterday I scored a pro placement with the Colorado publisher Third Flatiron, for an upcoming SF anthology, with my short The First Day of Winter. I was particularly pleased to score a proper pay rate for my hundredth, and can currently say 15% of my placements pay professionally!

I have around ninety submissions in play and several more stories to write for upcoming deadlines—so I better get busy!

Cheers, Mike Adamson

Header image from a royalty-free source.

Monday, February 24, 2020

In Print, February 2020

Released last month and available for print purchase, Outposts of Beyond Vol, 7, No. 2, features my Middle Stars piece The Dreaming Giants, an early outing in the series but a seminal one as I’ll be returning to the title entities at a later date, in what is planned as my first Middle Stars novel.

This is the last issue of Outposts of Beyond—the third time I’ve been in the very last issue of a title. Good news is Alban Lake are expanding with a line-up of new titles coming in the not too distant future.

For the moment, you can order this volume from the Infinite Realms Bookstore, at US$9. Click here.

It’s been a stunningly silent month on the progress front, I’m in my longest dry spell between placements since my record dead patch at the middle of last year. I had hoped to notch up two or three this month but so far, zip.

Cheers, Mike

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Four Years In: The Annual Review

I should have posted yesterday but had things to do and places to be, as the saying goes. And with the inferno sweeping Australia at this time one is allowed to be a bit distracted! So, here is the four-year-and-one-day milestone, and it’s time to look back on performance in this quest of mine to make a mark in the short story world.

Overall: After 1461 days, I now have a total of 1549 submissions, 92 placements (16.83:1 submission/acceptance ratio), 90 stories on submission at this time (my record is now 99), thus 1365 rejections (14.83:1 rejection/acceptance ratio). These ratios have squeezed out only slightly from last year’s figures, reflecting a slight down-turn in the activity of the market, which, in the long-term, has been less an impediment that I had feared it might.

In calendar year 2019, I made 432 submissions (well up on last year), receiving 25 placements, one less than the previous year (17.28:1 submissions/placements, longer odds than in 2018.) This is an acceptance rate of just 5.78%, down from 2018’s 7.36%, which was itself down from 2017’s 8.16%). If there is a metric for the downturn in the market I felt I was seeing, this may be it.

Average time between acceptances in Year Four was 14.6 days, appreciably the same as last year (26 acceptances).

I have not encountered a professional placement in the last twelve months, which is bad news in terms of income; that said, I managed to make slightly more in the last financial year than in the previous one, which suggests I’m hitting higher on the market scale more often, despite not actually being in the pro category in the twelve months between July 2018 and June 2019.

Productivity is well up, 42 stories this year (very much better than the 20 in 2018, yet still well behind the 62 in 2017), totalling 214, 998 words, up a long way from last period’s 130, 695 (but, as expected, still well below the 247, 782 words I clocked in 2017). I have over 210 stories registered at Submission Grinder, and 230+ in my personal list.

With the reorganisation of staff at my university I found myself without courses to teach in 2019, and this freed up time for intensive writing and marketing. The apparent market slump that seemed to set in around September 2018 (at least read as a marked slow-down in terms of placements) caused me to work that much harder, writing as much as possible and maintaining the highest possible submission rate. At one point I drove submission in play to 99, though to be fair there were several on multiple or simultaneous submission among them, plus some old subs effectively dead or in limbo, and a truer figure would have been in the 80s.

High points this year gone by include my second placement with Andromeda Spaceways, third with NewMyths, fourth with Aurealis and sixth with Lovecraftiana. I picked up the Editor’s Choice Award at Alien Dimensions with Sky Tears, and branched into mystery: I have begun to write Sherlock Holmes stories, a most active subgenre, plus original cases with an occult twist set in the Holmesian era, the Inspector Trevelyan Mysteries. One of each has placed so far.

Had I maintained the rate of placement seen in 2017-18 I would have been well above 100 placements at this time. As it is, I expect to see that milestone around March. With such a tally amongst one’s credentials, I would hope a literary agent would be suitably impressed, and the plan for the not too distant future is to begin work on a novel. I’ll keep up the short story activity too, it’s natural as breathing at this point, but the longer format offers new opportunities, both creatively and in market terms.

I hope to have equally interesting stats one year from now!

Cheers, Mike Adamson

Sunday, January 5, 2020

In Print January 2020 (and Progress)

This month promises to be my busiest ever, with four items releasing! First up, going active around January 1st, was my mermaid short Sylvie in the Blue, in the online magazine Aether & Ichor #5. Read it here. This is the last edition of A&E, oddly enough the second time I’ve appeared in the last issue of something, the other being my SF short A Grand Succession, which was in Nebula Rift Vol. 4, No. 12, in January 2017.

Next up should be Apocalyptic Visions appearing at the online mag Emerging Worlds on January 9th, followed on the 14th by my fantasy short Hubis in Retrograde when Black Hare Press release their anthology Pride, first of their Seven Deadly Sins series. And finally, on the 28th, my mermaid piece Silver Scales will be appearing in Kzine #26, due on the 28th of the month. Links to come on all of these.

I also just received my copy of the anthology Synth, featuring my SF short Naevus. This a reprint, the story having first appeared with Uprising Review in November, 2017. You can order here.

I scored my first placement for the year today, my Lemuria fantasy short story Lord of All Seas being picked up by NewMyths magazine, my third piece with them.

Tomorrow, I’ll be producing my annual review, looking back at my fourth year in the game, and presenting the stats of writing and publishing to date.

Cheers, Mike Adamson



Apocalyptic Visions went live at Emerging Worlds: you can read it here.

Hubris in Retrograde appeared in Pride, you can order here.

And finally, Silver Scales can be found in Kzine #26, which you can order here.

I’ve also placed three more stories this month, which is equal with my best January in previous years. The Silent Agenda scored a place with the Pole to Pole anthology 20, 000 Leagues Remembered, a collection celebrating 150 years since the Jules Verne classic was published. Then my fantasy piece Zamalek, the Dream, a cautionary tale of human interaction with the world, found a home with Dim Shores Presents Vol. 2, due later in the year (a collection that came out of left field, resulting from the great number of excellent submissions the publisher received in response to a previous project.) And finally, The Gentle Art of Ghosting—a scientific look at the fiendish problems in performing surgery on a ninety-ton whale—has been accepted by the Swedish publisher Jay Henge for their new anthology Sunshine Superhighway.

It’s certainly been a busy start to the year, four publications, four placements, and I’ve written three new stories in the same timeframe as well, plus beta-read a novel and a short story, and am working on a feature film script too

Cheers, Mike Adamson