According to SFWA, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, the pro rate for a short story market is 5 cents/word or higher, minimum $50. While this isn't going to get you rich, because there aren't a lot of pro paying markets and they can buy only so many of your stories, the sad truth is that many publications pay less -- often a lot less. And periodically, we lose another pro paying market. So you can imagine that new pro paying markets are of great interest to SF/F/H writers.
Alas, there may be a dog in sheep's clothing out there. j_cheney and Absolute Write yesterday mentioned a new operation, which is coming out with not one, but several new pro paying markets -- or so it seems on the surface.
Who Is Astra Publications?
Hmm... looks hazy, try again. Those who spent some time digging seemed to find a website advertising all these new publications, asking for donations or sales without detailing tables of contents, and possible connections between all the names which are mentioned. Plus stories which are already in the public domain.
To me, though, I worried about the name "Astra". There's already a Canadian con called Ad Astra, and Ad Astra is a publication of the National Space Society. You can call yourselves anything you want, but if you're after confusing people, picking something which might sound like something else might do it.
Like "Readshift" for "Redshift" or "LightSpeed SF" vs. John Joseph Adam's "Lightspeed".
This seems like someone intends to poach on Google searches for other sites. Uh-huh, real classy.
First Bad Signs
I'm not putting the link to this outfit, because I think they may be a scam, but you be the judge. Because when I went to the website, I got the following warning.
This Web site is suspicious. Leave now unless you are sure this site is safe.
And even when you get there, the HTML is poorly coded. Blanks on the left side marked "Banner Ads", without any, say, banner ads.
Ten Brand New Publications All At Once?
Admittedly they may be annuals or other periods longer than monthly, but starting up with 10 publications, 7 of 10 at pro rates? Look at this:
nth Dimension - Short Science Fiction - 500-7000 words - 5.5 cents per word.
Desert Rose Fiction - Short Mainstream Fiction - 1000-5000 words - 5 cents per word.
Atomic Chipmunk - Short Speculative Fiction - 750-6000 words - 6 cents per word.
Pulp Fic Press - Short Fantasy, Science Fiction, Crime, Adventure, Romance, Horror - 100-4000 words - 6 cents per word.
ReadShiftSF - Short Science Fiction - 1000-6000 words - 6 cents per word.
Fragment Fiction - Short Fiction - 250-6000 words - 5 cents per word.
LightSpeed SF - Short Speculative Fiction - 500-5000 words - 5.5 cents per word.
Futura Machine - Short Speculative Fiction - 250-5000 words - 2.5 cents per word.
The Written Word - Mainstream - 250-4500 words - 2.5 cents per word.
Athena's Flower - Mainstream - 250 - 10000 words - 2 cents per word.
A few years ago a friend of mine tried to start up a pro paying e-zine. Even with buying only two stories an issue, there were problems and eventually it got to be too much and too expensive up front, and he folded it after a couple of issues. And that was a sincere effort.
I fear that this is an attempt to get money for publishing someone and their friends' trunk stories, plus raise money via donations to keep these valuable pro markets going... without actually being a valuable pro market. I mean, it looks like it's something but you print your own stuff and reject all other submissions -- what a business plan!
Unless someone comes forward and successfully argues that this outfit is legitimate, I'm not wasting any time sending to any of these so-called pro markets. As a professional SF writer, it is my obligation to do due diligence on places I submit to, and this outfit doesn't pass the smell tests.