A friend suggested I take a look at the program for Mancunicon (2016 Eastercon) and it appears as though I’m responsible for a panel:
Supporting the Short Stuff
Room 7, 1pm – 2pm
Val Nolan, Ruth EJ Booth, Matthew Hughes, Juliet Kemp, E.G. Cosh
In his editorial for the November 2015 issue of Clarkesworld, Neil Clarke warned that the current boom in SF short fiction may be coming to an end: new markets are appearing continuously, but very few have truly viable business models in the sense of being able to sustain themselves and pay their editors and contributors. At the same time, the growth in markets has been a key factor in the increasing diversity of SF short fiction. So is the current landscape healthy or not? Is it realistic to aspire to full sustainability for today’s magazines, or is limited crowdfunding enough (or even advantageous)? Is a crash coming, and if it is what should we do about it?
It’s a bit of a dramatic interpretation of my editorial, but hey, if it gets people talking about building a sustainable future for short fiction then I’m good with that. As I see it, we have two paths (more likely a combination of the two):
- The number of magazines self-corrects downward making the marketplace more sustainable
- We market better and bring more people into the community, giving the field a bit of a boost
I’ll add some counter-questions to their list:
- Is it realistic to expect people to continue publishing when they lose money or go unpaid? Most people seem to agree that authors should be paid? Why is it such a stretch to think that editors/publishers also should be?
- Why assume that loss of a few markets will decrease diversity? If anything, I’m fairly convinced that diversity leads to point #2 above. The field has to stop looking beyond what the traditional borders. We’re publishing globally and need to start thinking that way.
- When you “save” a magazine via a campaign or some other initiative, have you corrected the problem or merely delayed the inevitable? Time does not solve a failing business and they seldom change.
In the end, I’m pulling for #2 and consider my editorial (and other things I’ve said on this subject) to be a warning flare. Something has to change.