2018 Hugo Award Finalists

The 2018 Hugo Award Finalists have been announced!

So very honored to be a finalist for Best Editor Short Form again this year. This is my sixth nomination in this category–no wins–and every time has been as much a thrill as the others. Always and amazing group of colleagues competing in this category.

Also very happy to see “The Secret Life of Bots,” by Suzanne Palmer (Clarkesworld, September 2017) and “A Series of Steaks,” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Clarkesworld, January 2017) competing for the Hugo Award for Best Novelette and  Vina among the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer finalists. I included both of these stories in my latest Best Science Fiction of the Year anthology–and Vina as best new writer–so it’s nice to see others agreeing with me.

A big thank you to all the people who nominated this year. I appreciate your support and hope to see some of you at Worldcon this summer!

Clarkesworld Year Nine

The latest in our Clarkesworld anthology series will be published on April 1st. Clarkesworld Year Nine: Volume One, marks the first time one of our annuals has had to be split in two. Ebook editions are now available for preorder from Amazon, Apple, B&N, and Kobo. At the moment, the trade paperback is available in preorder from Wyrm Publishing. Amazon will have it available starting on the 1st.

The second volume is already in production and I hope to have a release date for that soon. This set is long overdue, so you can expect the Year Ten anthologies to follow it fairly quickly.

Hard Sells

Over at Clarkesworld, our submission guidelines provide a list of stories that are very difficult for an author to sell us. The list has evolved over the years, but we haven’t had to add many in recent years. That said, we still receive a lot of submissions from authors that have either not read the guidelines or think their story will be the exception. (Stares directly at the authors submitting stories about zombies. You’re wrong.)

For years, we’ve received stories that have attempted to violate every one of those hard sell criteria. My own sons–under pseudonyms–have even written and submitted them. I can see how the combination might make for an interesting writing challenge, but I can’t imagine the finished product ever selling. I suspect the authors know this as well and are submitting them more out of the humor value than any hope of publication. Still, it seems I should be more up-front about that…

I just added it to the list.

Beyond Rejection Responses

Among other things, my previous post commented about the rude, obnoxious, or even threatening responses I sometimes receive after sending rejection letters. Privately, someone pointed out that there’s a second tier of authors that choose to share their cranky thoughts via blogs, forums, and conventions. It’s not all that surprising. I’ve been hearing them for years thanks to Google alerts, Twitter search, and word-of-mouth.

These typically aren’t in the same class of rude as someone who emails an editor directly, though sometimes it can be. Being frustrated about rejections is natural and definitely not restricted to new authors. It becomes problematic when it turns to anger and hate, makes up outrageous claims, or wishes harm to someone. My favorite of the lesser claims is that “they don’t actually read submissions.” [This is typically a criticism of fast-response markets. Newsflash: Longer-response markets spend the same amount of time on your story. For all that extra time, the story is just sitting there in their pile.] The worst I’ve seen? Some mean-spirited things said about my heart attack, not long after it happened.

I’m not saying you should censor yourself, but you should pay attention to what you say and how you say it. I recall listening to a podcast where an author railed on and on about how we were killing science fiction. He even cited a specific story to back up his claim. Despite this, he continued to send us his work on a regular basis. Was that podcast ever held against him? No, absolutely not. He even managed to get a few of our top tier rejection letters, which would never go to someone I didn’t want to work with. You’re allowed to be critical of a market for publishing something you didn’t like. Although dramatic, he reasonably defended his position and never once stooped to the childish “they rejected my stories, but published this crap” or name-calling that I’ve seen from others. I can respect that.

When I worked at a high school I had to regularly remind students that the Internet is forever and nothing there is truly private. Friend’s-locked posts, email, and private forums don’t provide nearly as much protection as some authors obviously think. Maybe they don’t even care.

Do I track this stuff? Only the worst offenders, which might amount to a few each year. None of them have ever submitted a story good enough for this to have held against them. Their small numbers are why they went largely forgotten in this weekend’s post.

Submissions, Rejections, and Acceptances

I originally started talking about this on Twitter, but as comments came in, I thought perhaps having a more permanent home for this would be a good idea. The tweet that started it all was:

Another day, another profanity-laced email (with veiled threat) in response to a rejection letter. Filed for future reference. #EditingLife

Here’s the thing about short story submissions at Clarkesworld, we see so many–nearly 1200/month–that it is unlikely we’ll remember one we didn’t like. Each story gets considered on its own merits, regardless of how good or bad the previous one was. It doesn’t matter if you are an established pro or a newcomer, all stories are considered equally. This is even the case on those rare occasions that we ask an author to send us a story. I know some markets solicit stories–meaning they promise to buy an invited submission–but we don’t.

If you happen to send a rude/obnoxious response to a rejection letter, we’ll keep it on file. I receive anywhere from one to four of those each month. (There’s one author who has sent me over two hundred.) In eleven years, I’ve only received one apology, and that was from a professional author–yes, they can cross the line too.

Before I send out an acceptance letter to someone I haven’t worked with before, I’ll do a quick search through my email history. None of the authors who’ve sent me those emails have ever made it that far, but should they, I’d have to seriously reconsider working with them. Why would I want to work with someone who is disrespectful and likely difficult? It’s no different than sending rude and obnoxious emails to a potential employer before your interview.

Do editor’s talk to one another about this stuff? Sure, it happens. Misery loves company and together we can laugh about it. However, it is highly unusual for names to be shared. The only cases I’m aware of involved authors who could be considered a serious danger to others. Authorities were involved and fortunately nothing further happened, but those actions led to the author’s name being known to a few editors.

In that Twitter conversation, one person asked if I ever go back and read an author’s older submissions before sending an acceptance. Admittedly, I’ll do that on occasion, but more to see if I missed something in earlier story. More often than not, what I’ll find is a visible evolution in the author’s work or a spiraling in on what we like, which is pretty cool. As I said at the start, each story gets considered on its own merits, regardless of how good or bad the previous one was. So long as you haven’t been an ass in your prior dealings with us, we’re good. Oh and that author who apologized, we’re good too.

 [A follow-up that addresses author rejection comments made on blogs, forums, etc. is here.]

Slush Reader Application 2018

If you are interested in being a slush reader for Clarkesworld Magazine, I highly recommend that you fill out our application. When a vacancy opens, we consider/reconsider every application turned in during the last year before soliciting new applications on social media. Quite often these positions are filled from existing applications.

A few notes:

  1. This is an unpaid volunteer position.
  2. Slush readers & other staff are prohibited from submitting stories or articles to the magazine.
  3. You should have time to read an average of five stories a day.
  4. Priority is given to writers and people considering becoming an editor.

A version of this post is reblogged every year or so with minor changes. We anticipate needing to fill two positions in March. More may open as the year continues.