Award-Winning Editor of Clarkesworld Magazine, Forever Magazine, The Best Science Fiction of the Year, and More

Month: August 2020

Cover Reveal: The Best Science Fiction of the Year – Volume 5

Cover art by Pascal Blanche.

Table of contents and ordering information here.

2020 NASFIC (Virtual)

 
I’m participating in this year’s NASFIC (a con normally held when the Worldcon is outside the US) this weekend. It was supposed to be in Columbus, but like everything else this year, they’ve had to make some adjustments and become a virtual convention.

Here’s their program schedule. I’ll be on the following program items:

The Future of Anthologies (Saturday 11:00 AM)
Jason Sanford (M), Dominik Parisien, Lucy A. Snyder, and Neil Clarke

Our highly-regarded panel of editors discuss current trends in and future of anthologies.

 

COVID-FX: Traditional Publishing (Sunday 2:00 PM)
Dave Ring, Neil Clarke, and Pablo Defendini

Our panel of traditional publishers talk about the state of SF/F publishing since the pandemic. What’s changed, what’s not?

The Best Science Fiction of the Year: 2020 Submission Guidelines

The Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 6 will be published in mid-2021 and select from science fiction stories (short stories, novelettes, and novellas) originally published in English in 2020.

Translations are allowed as long as their first English language appearance is in 2020. To keep things simple, I will be using the publisher’s copyright, magazine’s cover date, or posting date (primarily for online fiction) to determine eligibility. Serialized works will be considered published at the time of the final installment.

Deadlines
Print materials must be received by November 1st. Digital materials must be received by November 15th. If your project is scheduled for publication after that date, please send galleys by the above deadlines so that I will have sufficient time to consider your work.

Rights
I will require non-exclusive World anthology rights in English in print, ebook, and audio formats for stories I select for this volume.

Delivery
I will accept science fiction stories, novelettes, and novellas for consideration in the following formats:

Print – mail to:
Neil Clarke
PO Box 172
Stirling, NJ 07980 

EPUB, MOBI, and .DOC – email to:
bestsciencefiction@clarkesworldmagazine.com

I strongly dislike reading PDFs and they are more difficult to work with, so please do not send me work in this format unless you have no other options.

Publishers: If sending a magazine/anthology/collection that also contains other fantasy/horror/other stories, please list the titles of the science fiction stories in your cover letter or email.

Authors: I will not be able to let you know whether or not your work has been submitted by your publisher. To avoid duplication, please check with your publisher before sending a story. If your work is self-published, please include the date and location (blog, website, Amazon, etc.) your work was originally published.

Stories published in the following magazines and anthologies do not need to be submitted. I already have (or will receive) them. UPDATED 10/27/2020

Magazines: Abyss & Apex, Analog, Apex, Asimov’s, Cirsova, Clarkesworld, Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, Cossmass Infinities, Departure Mirror Quarterly, Diabolical Plots, Escape Pod, F&SF, Fiction River, Future SF, Future Tense Fiction/Us in Flux (Slate), Galaxy’s Edge, GigaNotoSaurus,  Interzone, Kaleidotrope, Lightspeed, Little Blue Marble, Metaphorosis, Mithila Review, Samovar, Shoreline of Infinity, Strange Horizons, Tor.com, Translunar Travelers Lounge, Uncanny

Anthologies: 20,000 Leagues Remembered, A Dying Planet Short Stories, Africanfuturism: An Anthology, And the Last Trump Shall Sound, Avatar: Indian Science Fiction, Avatars, Community of Magic Pens, The Dystopia Triptych (Ignorance is Strength, Burn the Ashes, Or Else the Light), Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Winters, Glitter + Ashes, Made to Order, Upon a Once Time, Reading 5X5 x2: Duets, Recognize Fascism, Silk and Steel, Unidentified Funny Objects 8, Way of the Laser, Writers of the Future: Volume 36

Sending a book/file/story is a one-way transaction. I will not be confirming receipt or returning materials.

Notes on publication dates:

  • Magazines: It is traditional for magazine cover date to be used to determine year of publication, however, if a story from a January issue is published on the website of that publication in December of the prior year, that will be considered the first publication date. This is considered an intentional publication by the publisher in the earlier year.
  • Anthologies: If the ebook or an e-Arc of an anthology is made available for purchase (and delivery, preorders don’t count) in the year prior to the official copyright year, the earlier year will be ignored when determining eligibility.  If the print edition happens to ship a few days earlier than the official publication date, causing it to drift into the prior year, the copyright date will be used. Unlike the digital publication dates, this is something that tends to be outside the publisher’s control. This is why they are treated differently.

Short Story Cover Letters

 
Let me preface this post by saying:

  • These are my preferences for cover letters when submitting a story to Clarkesworld Magazine or one of my anthologies. This is not a standard, though other editors may feel the same way.
  • Most cover letters are awful, so I read them last. I don’t want them influencing my opinion of a story before I’ve even read it. I’ve never rejected a story because of the cover letter.
  • This post will be updated as necessary. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments.

How to address a cover letter

You can skip Dear Neil, Dear Mr. Clarke, Dear Editor, Dear Editor and first readers, etc. It doesn’t have any impact. Simple mistakes here can sometimes work against you. For example, “Dear Sheila” tells me you either meant to send this to Asimov’s or they’ve already rejected it. Every editor I know has had this sort of thing happen to them. Some hate it. Some find it amusing. I couldn’t care less, so just skip the niceties and dive right into the substance.

What should be in a cover letter?

There’s a few things that might have me view your story in a different light.

  • if there’s a particular aspect to this story that pulls from your professional experience (for example, physicist, historian, astronaut, musician, etc.) or personal experience (cultural, regional, temporal, etc.)

You don’t have “write what you know” but if you happen to know, it’s good that I know you do.

  • if you are a non-native English speaker

I have immense difficulty learning other languages, so I’m not going to hold a non-native speaker to the same standards for spelling and grammar. Your approach to storytelling might even be a bit non-standard to an native English speaker. This is important to know for the evaluation and (if accepted) editing phases.

  • if you are under 18 years old

I’m impressed. I never would have done something like this at your age. Like the non-native speakers, I’m going to cut you a little more slack on the grammar and spelling. (Not that I’m particularly hung up on that being perfect to start with.) It does, however, have an impact should we choose to accept your work: your parents or legal guardian will be required to co-sign the contract.

Since I read the cover letter last, think of the above items as having the potential to make me go back and read a bit further. This even applies in instances where I haven’t been the first reader. (Editors and first readers often stop reading a story when they no longer think it will work for a publication.)

  • if you are previously unpublished

I’m not buying names. I’m buying stories. What you’ve sold previously (or not) doesn’t mean this story will be any better or worse. That said, every editor I know loves to be the first person to publish an author’s work. It’s something that should be celebrated and I often don’t find out until after the story has been published. Telling me up-front helps avoid that.

  • if you are submitting a translation

You should be tell me where the story was originally published (if it was), what the original language is, your relationship to the story (author or translator), and whether or not you have the approval of whoever holds the rights on the original (sometimes this isn’t the author or their estate).

  • if you are submitting a reprint

We don’t accept reprints at Clarkesworld, but this does to any of the reprint anthologies I edit. I need to know where and when the story was originally published and if there are any restrictions (usually time, region, or language-based) in place.

  • if you aren’t the author

Yes, there are legitimate reasons this could happen. The most common is that the person submitting the work is the author’s agent or otherwise represents their estate. It also common with translations. We will verify this before issuing a contract.

  • if you selected “other” for genre

Since it doesn’t fit in one of the categories we’ve listed, please let us know what genre you think it is.

If none of the above applies to you, then a simple “Thank you for considering my story” is more than enough.

What shouldn’t be in a cover letter?

  • Our submission system already asks for title, genre, word count, and email address. Repeating them here is pointless
  • Mailing address (should be on the first page of the story) or phone number
  • A laundry list of everyone that has ever published you. Never include more than three, but honestly, you should just skip this information entirely
  • Bank or PayPal information
  • A summary of your story

 

Ultimately, I prefer your cover letter to be very short. If your cover letter is long (for reasons other than those positives I’ve mentioned), you’ve likely done something wrong.

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