Thursday, November 14, 2019

1500



Over a year ago I exceeded 1000 submissions and had intended to post on that milestone, though I don’t remember actually doing so. Well, I just passed 1500, and I’ll post about it now!

When I began this enterprise I could not conceive of such figures. I was feeling my way, certainly, and increasing the frequency of submissions over time as I dropped into a working mode. A rejection comes in, I log it, redirect the story to some other appropriate market, and log that, both in personal records and at Submission Grinder (it’s great to be able to cross-reference the two for accuracy). Wait, repeat as necessary…

This is not the place to look at the statistics, that comes up on a couple of months when I reflect on the fourth year of the project, but 1500 submissions down is quite an achievement. It’s also a frank acknowledgement that over 1300 of them have been rejections, as well as that there is absolutely nothing unusual in this. It’s how the industry rolls these days, a fact of life.

I have no intention of quitting, and see myself in another year looking back on stats and saying similar things, but I would certainly like to break into the novel field. Short stories are an artform all their own, but novels are where the proper money can be found (unless you find a way to sell consistently to the pro end of the short story industry, which is a mystery to most). I have a number of novel ideas in hand, but picking the right one to develop in the current market is a matter of research, thinking it through, then committing to it. I’ve not completed a novel in many years, so it would be something of a renaissance for me.

1000 submissions was not even a bump in the road, it went by quickly in the flurry of work, and I don’t think I marked the occasion in any way. Perhaps this time I’ll raise a glass of something to the possibilities of tomorrow, before getting my head down over the next story. Because there’s always another story to write, another market calling for submissions, therefore another opportunity to make a mark, earn a few bob, and add to one’s professional capital before searching out that agent or publisher for wider endeavours to come.


Mike Adamson

Friday, October 18, 2019

In Print October 2019 (and Progress)



Two Austalian titles have gone live this month, Aurealis #125 (below), with my story The Witch Who Wove Dreams, a magical realism piece set in 17th century Holland; and Andromeda Spaceways #76 (above) featuring my apocalyptic piece Rats, a tale of the years after the Earth has become uninhabitable without the buffer of technology.



Click here to order Aurealis.

Click here to order Andromeda Spaceways.


Also due this month is the anthology Not Far From Roswell, featuring my short story The Man with the Alien Aura, and I’ll update this post when it comes available.

And I’ve placed two stories this month so far, New Myths bought the “Middle Stars” pieced Wharf Rat on the 9th, for publication in about a year, and on the 19th Alban Lake picked up my Lovecraftian piece The Golden Land for their anthology Dream-Realms of Cthulhu. News about these releases as it comes available!

UPDATE (25/10/19)


Well, Roswell isn’t out yet, but Lovecraftiana V.4 No.3 is, the Halloween issue for 2019, with my story The Last Hunt, a tale of the world in an age damned to endure the return of the star-spawned elders.


And it looks like an extra placement, just sorting out some details, there may be a bit of a story to tell about this one! Next time...

UPDATE


Re that last comment above, my “Middle Stars” piece Petrichor was picked up by the anthology Wordland 8, which I learned late in the month after an email snafu meant I didn’t get the acceptance message some three weeks earlier. GRRR!

Cheers, Mike Adamson

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