December 13th, 2006

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Romance Isn't What You Think It Is

IROSF Lives

The latest Internet Review of Science Fiction, IROSF, ended up being a Fall quarterly edition as they transition management, but boldly soldier on. They are currently finishing up their third year. With a reader base of around five thousand, IROSF figures they'll be able to keep going.

You have to subscribe, but I'm not sure they're yet charging for new subscriptions and they'll cheerfully e-mail you a reminder when they've got a new issue up. Good people. Interesting articles and reviews.

Paranormal Romance and More

The new Fall 2006 issue includes Cynthia Ward's discussion of Paranormal Romance: Here, There, and Everywhere With the New Science Fiction. Besides doing a nice discussion of What Makes A Romance (my favorite movie Titanic comes in as a Love Story, but not a Romance, because there is no HEA -- Happily Ever After -- grin) and a very nice historical discussion of the roots of SF and Fantasy stories which could be considered Romances, plus the modern Paranormal Romances which form the fastest growing sub-genre. And doesn't usually get shelved in the SF/F section of book stores.

Of course I looked at the Bibliography for my 2004 Clarion classmate Marjorie M. Liu and behold:

Tiger Eye: A Dirk & Steele Adventure et seq. by Marjorie M. Liu (PR)
In a Beijing market, Dela Reese buys a riddle box that contains an enchanted shapeshifter. Liu is a graduate of the Clarion Science Fiction Writers' Workshop.


Yay! And a whole slew of my favorite books (Time and Again, The Time Traveler's Wife, etc., get mentioned, too).

Recommended article.
Recommended on-line journal.

Dr. Phil
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The Writing Game of Numbers

But What Are My Odds Of Getting Published?

The Fall 2006 issue of IROSF, mentioned in the previous post on Paranormal Romance, also includes a "must-read" article for new writers about the realities of Markets: Short Fiction, Novels and Careers by Jay Lake and Ruth Nestvold.

Much of this has been discussed here before and in other blogs I've read and referenced here, but it bears some repeating -- and since this is a REVIEW article, it puts a number of stats and quotes into one convenient article.

The Bottom Line

Whether trying to get a novel published, or short fiction -- and in one of the four Majors (Asimov's / Analog / F&SF / Realms of Fantasy) or second- or third-tier markets -- statistics suggest that the odds are Not Good. But that is so misleading. Here's a better take:

Odds of getting published if you don't submit anything: 0 (that's a HARD zero, folks)

Odds of getting published if you don't finish anything: 0

Odds of getting published if you write crap: nearly 0

Odds of getting published if you can Do The Job Right: Not So Bad and Not Zero

Reality Check

I think every reader of SF/F will read a story or a novel and say, "Hey, I can write better than that." Or the variation, "Hey, even I can..."

But can you? Good writing means having a clear vision of your story at some point, having a good sense of writing fundamentals, and following the damned directions. It means having sufficient ego to be the Writer and yet subsume the ego enough to handle Rejection and Critique.

SF/F writing and editing gadfly Nick Mamatas nihilistic_kid is not shy about letting the True Idiots of this world know they are True Idiots -- and slices and dices those who triumphantly violate submission policies. Not everyone agrees with Nick, but my point is that Submission Guidelines are every bit as important to The Process and making a stab that your story matches the market you are submitting to.

I have made 120 submissions to date with 42 stories in various versions. I have three print and one online publication. This after twenty to thirty years of writing, but submitting to markets only since June 2002. That's less than some and more than most. Same with my "success" rate, which translates to 1:30 at the moment (or 1:15 if the one small market ever prints their second collection which will include three non-paying stories). I've yet to break into the majors and yet to send out one of my novels. But that's coming.

Which pretty much puts me in line with what Jay and Ruth have found.

Recommended article.

Dr. Phil
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