ConFusion 2015, Panel 6: Current State of Short Fiction

[This post is part of a series which collects and expands upon notes taken during panel discussions at the January 2015 ConFusion science fiction convention in Dearborn, Michigan. The index page, which links to the other posts in the series, is here.]

Panelists included Scott H. Andrews, Ron Collins, Elizabeth Shack and moderator Catherine Shaffer.

As I complete this post, on Easter Sunday 2015, more than two months after the fact, I find myself thinking back on the panel itself. So much laughter and goodwill, and people – editors, writers, and publishers – who have worked their fingers to the bone, but still have such extraordinary optimism and generosity for people in the community of genre fiction. Scott Andrews, in particular was a treasure trove of information. It helps that he is the publisher (and editor-in-chief) of Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

Here are my notes. Less narrative form, more of a raw info-dump.

* Who is publishing, reading, and writing?
** Galaxy’s Edge
** Uncanny Magazine
** Bastion Science Fiction Magazine
** Fireside Fiction
** Lackington’s
** The Dark

* Early issues are where you find your audience and pool of writers. This means that for publishers, the first few issues of a journal are where you determine what will be submitted going forward.

** Terraform
** Urban Fantasy
** SubmissionGrinder

* Professional rate for genre fiction authors is $0.06/word

* ClarkesworldNeal Clarke is a GENIUS at marketing. He has made his enterprise so successful that it can no longer be considered a semiprozine.

* Flash Fiction (1000 words or less) is becoming more viable,thanks to on-line/digital publishing

* Podcasts/audiobooks of short stories are very popular. This in itself makes the shorter forms more commercially viable, particularly for venues which are comfortable releasing works online.

* Who’s writing short fiction?
** Seth Dickinson
** Gregory Norman Bossert
** Cat Rambo
** Helen Marshall
** K J Parker
** Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
** Alex Dally MacFarlane
** Tamara Vardomskaya
** Laura Pearlman

* Trends for 2014 – 2015
** fewer zombie stories
** More humor in Flash Fiction

* For any question “Is anyone publishing X?”, the answer is YES. BUT: Can you find the publisher willing to publish X?

* Novellas are becoming a viable length again, thanks to digital publishing.

* “Making a living” in short fiction? Difficult. Very difficult.

* Readers of old media sometimes resist converting to new media. People want their analog. This is why many of the classic magazines are still viable.

* Rejectomancy – divining the underlying message in a rejection letter (explanation here).

And that’s about it for this panel. More to come in the weeks ahead.

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