Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Speculative Fiction Writing Resources. Wholesale.


For my part of this blog, I want to document my eternal struggle to go from absolute nobody wannabe* to the fabled echelon of Published Authors. As part of that struggle, I’ve found information can sometimes be surprisingly difficult to locate. It’s definitely out there, if you know where to look, but the trick is knowing where to look. So I figured I’d compile all the sites that I’ve found useful right here, and hopefully some other budding author will come along some day and have everything in one easy-to-use place. So with no further ado, my favorite writing resources on the web, and what they taught me:

Mary Soon Lee’s Writing Speculative Fiction Page. This is without a doubt the best, easiest to use site that I’ve found in terms of the nuts and bolts of submitting a story to a market. I learned how to put things in manuscript format from here, how to write a cover letter, and how to do all sorts of other good junk. Sometime soon, I’d like to reproduce this type of thing on one of our sites, just because the more pages that are out there, the easier the information is to find, but until then, go straight to Mary Soon Lee for all your submitting needs.

Speculations: The best on-line community I’ve found for SpecFic writers actually trying to get published. I highly recommend the Rejection/Acceptance Log to keep up to date on what's happening with other authors, and many, if not most, markets post their news on Speculations. If they don’t do so personally, generally someone finds out what's going on and posts it anyway. Plus, you can post any technical questions you might have, you can talk about theory, you can debate meaningless propositions until the entire community grows sick of you [not recommended], and, for a small fee, the site-lord, Kent Brewster, will send you a fantastic monthly newsletter with all the market news you could possibly dream of. If you want to be published in a speculative genre, you should already be there. Go now.

Ralan’s Webstravaganza: The definitive source for market information (i.e., what they are, what they pay, how to submit) in easy-to-navigate format. Study it well; you will use it often.

Submitting to the Black Hole: This site, run by the same folks who do Critters (see below) is your one-stop-shop for collected response times. I’m the type of person who checks for a response before he even sends a piece in (it's speculative fiction, you never know where psychic phenomena will pop up). This site will give you a realistic estimate of when you can expect to hear from any given market. It’s saved me a lot of fingernail biting (okay, some fingernail biting). Oh, and report your response times there, too! I command it! Every report helps us all!

Critters: I don’t use Critters anymore because I’m lazy, my production level is super-low, and I have very limited free time as is (if it weren’t for procrastination, I wouldn’t be writing this right now). BUT, Critters is without a doubt the most useful on-line workshop I know of. I’ll write about what I’ve learned from workshopping later, but for now, let me just say, it will help you increase the quality of your writing enormously.

Baen’s Bar Slush Conference: (Note: requires membership to access, but it's free) I have a love/hate relationship with the Baen’s Universe Slush Conference. I love it because you can go there, post a story, and in two days, have at least a few good critiques waiting for you. Plus, you get the chance, however small, of getting a story passed up to the editors of Jim Baen’s Universe, a major pro-level 'zine! Now that’s a bonus! The downside is that some of the crits can be both harsh and insubstantial (harsh is okay, but not when it doesn’t tell you anything), and most of the people who hang out there are interested in JBU-style fiction, which is to say, fun and action oriented. Most of my stuff doesn’t fall into that category, so I get a lot of comments like “I guess it was good. If you like social criticism. Booooring.” Still, it’s incredibly nice of the JBU staffers to let us use the web-board for our own diabolical interests and not just submitting to their slush, so take advantage of it!

There are a lot of other good sites out there, and I’ll try to post them as I go along. I’ll also list each of these in the links section, and keep a prominent link to this post, so it’ll always be available, assuming people find it useful.

These are my favorite sites-- what are yours?

*Technically, I have been published, twice: once in the AutuImn 2006 Shimmer Magazine, and again in The Drabbler #7, though that last one was basically 4theLuv. Still, I consider this enough to officially raise my status in the publishing world from ‘wannabe’ to ‘base amateur.’