Sunday, January 11, 2015

Heroic Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery, SFWA, and Short Stories

So one thing that has been really beneficial to my career as a writer has been developing my skills in both the novel and short fiction formats. I believe having experience in both leads to success in both venues, especially when one considers how digitized the book market is today. Short stories are in the middle of a resurgence thanks to digital publishing, allow both traditional and self-published authors to stretch their legs with a sprint instead of a marathon, and believe me, some really great things come out of cross-training.

However, it would be foolish to dismiss the difficulties that come with this new era in short fiction, and that can be none clearer than Science Fiction and Fantasy's largest representative organization for genre authors (if you leave out Romance,) the Science Fiction Writers of America. This is a good site for all genre fiction authors not writing exclusively in the Romance category, as you can get a sense of where the industry is, how to become SFWA-eligible by selling stories to their list of qualifying markets, or by taking part in a really well-run forum.

But for all the nice things I say about SFWA, there is a truth for me that somewhat dissuades me from ever worrying about getting SFWA certified through short stories.

Here is that truth: I write Heroic Fantasy and Sword & Sorcery, with the latter being the primary genre I write for short fiction. I dabble in some magical realism these days, but I haven't gotten to a point where I feel like I can go out there and sell. Yet.

Now, far from accusing any publication of being anti-traditional fantasy, the main thing that bars my way is what the current markets are looking for. We are in the middle of a Speculative Fantasy boom, where genres cross, story elements reduce to more pure forms, and the line between gets very hazy.

And one thing I constantly run into is "we don't want stories resolved with swords and bloodshed. We want literary."

Which puts me in a hell of a bind in two ways: most S&S revolves itself around blood being spilled, and the definition of literary is undefinable (my opinion.)

Yet I also look at it as an opportunity.

First and foremost, to get S&S into these pro-markets forces me to think about the genre outside of the box. This is good.

Second, there are still pro-markets out there that are looking for great S&S, which I constantly strive to produce. The problem is finding them, but it is only problem if you have the mindset that only SFWA and pro-markets are worthy of your "time."

All of us start out nowhere at the bottom, and learning and mastering The Craft of Writing means getting your butt out there and submitting, getting rejected and getting feedback, and hopefully selling your work. I think in the mind of today's writer, we should all look at a credit as a credit, and nothing more. And we should all be striving to increase our list of credits.

For many of us, that leaves us to submit our work elsewhere, to places where they don't pay $0.06 per word, and places where nobody has gone before. Today there are so many new and emerging markets that want great genre fiction.

So where do you find these markets?

The easy way to do it is by visiting sites like Duotrope or Ralan's, both sites that have great oversight and are consistently updated with new submission calls. However, there is one site I go to when I want to find the newest markets available:

The Grinder

Besides an obvious affinity to the name, I really find this site to be well-ordered, organized, and dependable in really searching out the markets that are right for you. Check them out, as you can find everything here.

In closing, remember--you don't have to follow a winding path to publishing short fiction. The medium is more alive now than it ever has been, and we have both big and small outfits to thank for that. Give them your best. Publishing credits are publishing credits--go get them and get yourself a name.

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See ya soon!

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