This Little Piggy (Went To Market)
by Brian Plante
When I tell people that I have a story in Science Fiction: To Infinity And Beyond * magazine, they're dumfounded. Not necessarily because I sold a story, but because they've never heard of SF: To Infinity And Beyond . Well, it's not like you can just find a copy in the magazine rack at your local Barnes & Noble. They really want to know, "Where the hell do you find these obscure magazines, Brian?"
Okay, I expect that. A lot of these small press magazines are virtually unknown except to other writers. Sometimes, though, I'm surprised when a fellow writer asks me how I knew about a market. I just assume all serious writers know where to find places to sell their work. I know it's hard to believe, but sometimes I'm wrong.
If you're new to writing and you don't know where to go about sending your work, here's what I know about the subject. I've subscribed at one time or another to each of these magazines and market newsletters, and I visit the online ones frequently. Most of these market sources are geared toward short fiction in the genres of science fiction, fantasy and horror. That's what I do, so that's what I know.
Lots of beginning writers start with Writer's Digest, available at most good magazine dealers. The articles in it are generally good for beginners, and it's probably worthwhile getting a subscription for a year or two, but it's not a very good source of market information. WD only includes a handful of markets each month, and the large number of WD subscribers insures that those markets will instantly be flooded with submissions whenever they are listed. Worse, WD seems to have a fairly long lead-time, and the info they print is not very up-to-date, so the market they are listing in the current issue may have already closed three months ago.
Writer's Market and Novel And Short Story Writer's Market are annual books you can find in the reference sections of many larger bookstores that present very complete lists of magazines, book publishers and contests where you can send your stuff. I used to buy the latter every year when I first started, but the market data in these books is often outdated before it hits the bookshelves. The magazine markets, particularly the small press and semi-pro, are fairly volatile, and an annual update is not often enough to keep up with these magazines. Copies of Writer's Market can often be found at your local public library, and it's worth browsing, but I don't buy them anymore.
Similarly, the Science Fiction Writer's Marketplace And Sourcebook suffers from a lack of up-to-date information. Now in its second revision, there are some good articles in the book, and it may be worth owning if your main genre is SF, but it's not very good as a source of market information, despite the title. The markets change too quickly for a book like this to be very useful.
Scavengers Newsletter is a great little monthly publication that's light on articles and heavy with market listings. The production values are fairly simple, but the market info is very thorough and timely, especially for the small press listings. The usual complaint against Scavenger's is that it devotes too much time to non-paying markets, but I think it's a bum rap. Scav prints just about everything, but the great number of these pays-on-copies markets means you have to wade through a lot of listings to find the few good paying gigs. For many years, Scav was my main source of market info, and I recommend it highly. [Update 6/28/03, Scavenger's is now out of business.]
Another good source is Gila Queen's Guide to Markets . It's a bi-monthly, and in addition to the usual SF, fantasy and horror listings, each issue highlights some specialty market like children's literature, or fitness magazines. Gila Queen is a good choice if you write other things besides SF/F/H, and their annual round-up of genre markets is excellent. I subscribed to Gila Queen for several years, and was never disappointed. [Update 6/28/03, the URL was changed. The old URL was taken over by an Italian porno site. ]
Speculations is another bimonthly, concentrating on SF, fantasy and horror markets. In addition to some good market information, Speculations is filled with excellent articles that are very relevant for genre writers. They recently switched from a standard paper magazine to an electronic-only format. The listings concentrate on paying markets, and spare you the pays-in-copies listings, which are less valuable to me now than when I was a beginner. This is the one I currently subscribe to.
One more print magazine worth looking at is the SFWA Bulletin. SFWA, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, is a professional organization of writers, and the Bulletin is put out for and by the members. No, you don't have to join the organization to subscribe, but receiving the Bulletin as part of your membership is one of the nice perks if you do join. It occasionally turns up at some magazine racks, but check out the link above if you want to know more about SFWA and The Bulletin. As a member of SFWA, I have received the Bulletin for about five years.
If I'm giving you the impression that it's going to cost you money to find out about the markets for your work, then cheer up -- there are lots of good, free sources of market information. Among the best is the Callihoo email newsletter and website maintained by Julia West. You can subscribe for free to the weekly newsletter (I do) and download her great market list. [Update 6/28/03, Callihoo hasn't been updated for quite a while, as far as I can tell.]
Another good free email newsletter, mainly for horror writers, is Paula Guran's Dark Echo newsletter. Dark Echo has some great articles in addition to market announcements. [Update 3/14/01, Dark Echo has ceased operation. ][Update 6/28/03, the website says the Dark Echo newsletter may be back from the dead -- I'll resubscribe and see what's going on.]
Paula Fleming maintains an excellent list of markets online.
The Market List is a very well thought out site well worth checking out, with great market info. I just wish they'd update the site a bit more often.
Spicy Green Iguana is another good market listing site.
Ralan Conley's Webstravaganza is another great online list. [Update 6/28/03, If I were rewriting this article today, Ralan would probably be at the top of my list. The site is timely and complete, and I rely on it quite a bit.]
Last, but not least, is Christopher Reynaga's The Write Market .
Although not really a market list, a good place to hang out online and pick up all the scuttlebutt about what's going on in the genre publishing world is at SFF Net . This is a very large bulletin-board site where lots of writers, amateur and pro, trade information. Another good writers' bulletin-board is Dueling Modems . Likewise, the Rumor Mill (run by Speculations ) is another place you can pick up all the latest market announcements and interact with other writers.
Whew, that's it. There's a lot of market information out there, so now you know. There are too many market services out there to follow it all, but don't worry, most of the listings overlap a lot. Check out as many as you can, then pick a few that interest you the most and stick with them. Some are better, some are worse, but all are doing a good enough job that you can't ever use the excuse that you don't know where to submit your work. Maybe one day you, too, can amaze your friends by selling a story to a market like Steaming Entrails: Stories of Disembowelment *.
Know of any more good sources for market info? Send me an e-mail and maybe I'll include it in an update.
* Not an actual market, so don't knock yourself out trying to find a listing for it.
Copyright © 2000 Brian Plante Count= 5734
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