Neil Clarke

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

Amazon Kindle Subscriptions

We’ve been offering Clarkesworld Magazine for subscription on the Amazon Kindle since 2011 via their Kindle Publishing for Periodicals (KPP) program. If I recall correct, we were the third genre magazine on the platform, right after Analog and Asimov’s.

A recent article in Publisher’s Weekly stated:

PW has learned that the company is ending its print textbook rental program, which was established about a decade ago, and will phase out print and digital magazine and newspaper subscriptions as well.

And quoted an Amazon representative saying:

Following an assessment of our print textbook rentals and our magazine and newspaper subscriptions and single-issue sales, we have made the difficult decision to discontinue these services. We don’t take these decisions lightly, and are winding down these offerings in a phased manner over several months. We will continue to support customers, sellers, and publishers during that time.

We’ve since received an email confirming this. It went on to detail some information about additional plan to invest in magazine and newspaper content in Kindle Unlimited (KU) and Prime Reading before expressing a timetable for ending KPP in September 2023.

What Does This Mean

Amazon is effectively ending its print and digital subscription business. If you have a monthly or annual subscription to a magazine on their platform (among which you will find Clarkesworld, Forever, Asimov’s, Analog, F&SF, Lightspeed, Fantasy Magazine, Nightmare Magazine, The Dark, Apex, Galaxy’s Edge, and Uncanny) your subscription will end in September.

Earnings from Amazon subscriptions provide a varying and sometimes significant portion of the revenue that these publications require to stay in business. If you don’t already know, genre magazines are subscription-driven, meaning that subscriptions make up the bulk of their income. Some people think advertising is a major source, but it actually represents a tiny fraction for us. (Advertising tends to be a leading source of revenue for glossy magazines, so it’s easy to see where they could get that impression.)

None of these magazines are entirely reliant on Amazon, but as the largest ebook retailer in the field, the cancelation of this program will hurt and in some cases, hurt badly. Badly enough to shutter a magazine? Maybe. It’s too soon to tell and there are a lot of variables, including you.

What Was That About KU?

It turns out that some (not all) publishers are being offered an opportunity to offer subscriptions in KU Magazines. If you are already familiar with KU from the author’s side, this version is a little different. Unlike books in KU, magazines will not be required to be exclusive to Amazon or paid by pages read. Readers that have a paid subscription to KU can get a subscription to those magazines at no additional charge, but if you don’t have a KU subscription, you won’t have an option to subscribe to those magazines from Amazon.

Clarkesworld has been offered entry into this program, so I had a phone meeting with them today. I should receive an estimate and contract next week. Some of the information in this post comes from that conversation, which they indicated was fine to share. (Receiving this news the week before Christmas was terrible planning on Amazon’s part, but not the fault of the person I spoke to. They were quite helpful and I worked hard to keep from inflicting my distress on them.)

Several of my colleagues have informed me that they received letters without an invite. During my meeting, I inquired if this meant they were not selected. This was confirmed, but it was indicated there might be room for reconsideration for a few.

What Happens Next?

Amazon plans to inform subscribers via email in March. I asked if there would be an opportunity for the publishers to be involved in the framing of that language and it was received positively. (Publishers don’t have access to subscriber contact information.) I should have additional information sometime in mid-January on how that will work, but first impression was that it would be some direction towards the publisher’s website for information on how to continue subscribing somewhere else (or even KU should the publisher be willing and able to go that route).

I would rate the likelihood of Amazon changing their mind as very slim. I don’t know precisely why they are doing this, but they are doing so with full knowledge of how many customers it will impact and potentially upset by the change. That doesn’t mean you should refrain from letting them know how you feel about this, particularly if you are a current subscriber.

Each of us has 8-9 months to try to figure out how to work around and adjust to these changes. It’s no small task. Some of us have thousands of subscribers on their platform and even with some cooperation from Amazon to get the word out, migrating subscribers to a new platform (even their own) will be extremely challenging.

I’m hoping for patience from our readers and followers. I’m going to be pushing subscriptions quite loudly for a while. Because I have to. We’ve also been talking about the need to increase our subscription price. (I’m not sure why magazines are locked at a price from ten years ago, but all other literary content has increased in that time.) This situation may make it a necessity and not just for us.

And finally, if you are an Amazon subscriber, please don’t forget about us. Your subscription will continue well into 2023, but at some point we hope you’ll transition to a new subscription from one of the many places that offer them. Look for information in our January issue or come back here around then. You can also check out our current subscription options, but we’re hoping to add to that. If you have suggestions, please don’t hesitate to ask about them. No matter what, thank you. Your support over the years has been crucial and we hope it can continue.

Thank you.

Philcon 2022

This November 18-20, I’ll be attending Philcon in Cherry Hill, NJ and participating in the following program items:


11:00 AM – Autographs

1:00 PM – State of the Short Fiction Market
Jean Marie Ward, Fran Wilde, Margaret Riley, Neil Clarke, Stephanie Burke


12:00 PM – Meet the Editors!
Michael A. Ventrella, Ann Stolinsky, Ian Randal Strock, Neil Clarke, Margaret Riley  

Capclave 2022

I’ll be attending Capclave (Rockville, MD) this weekend and will be on the following panels:


4:00 PM The State of Small Press Publishing
Participants: Cathy Green (M), Joshua Benjamin Palmatier, Mike McPhail, Neil Clarke
It’s no secret that Capclave loves small press publishing. What’s considered a small press today and how is it different than years past? What’s new and exciting in small press publishing?


1:00 PM Anthology Builder
Participants: Alex Shvartsman, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, David Keener, Jeanne Adams, Joshua Benjamin Palmatier (M), Neil Clarke
Your anthology questions answered! How do you come up with a theme and properly curate your anthology? How do authors produce readable fiction in the confines of an original themed anthology? How do the stories get picked? What sells and what doesn’t?

2:30 PM From Amazon to Zines – Publishing in the 2020s
Participants: Ingeborg Heyer, Joshua Benjamin Palmatier, Neil Clarke, Ty Drago (M)
The publishing industry continues to evolve in surprising ways. How has Amazon, self-publishing, technology, the internet, or other factors changed the way books get made? What direction might publishing go in the near future? What do authors and readers need to know about publishing trends?

4:00 PM Ask the Editors
Participants: Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Joshua Benjamin Palmatier, Neil Clarke, Scott H. Andrews (M), Ty Drago
Here’s your chance to ask our panelists all your burning questions about being an editor. Our panelists will give an overview of their role and then turn it over to you.

2022 Hugo Award for Editor (Short Form)

I won the 2022 Hugo Award for Best Editor (Short Form) at Chicon this past weekend. I was absolutely convinced this would be my tenth loss. That also means that I was completely unprepared to give a speech. Fortunately, I’ve been keeping a list of names in my jacket pocket for years (that list was falling apart so I had to copy it to a new piece of paper that day) and was able to make the best of it. Barely remember what I said, but people have been very nice about it. I’ll have to watch the video sometime.

My thanks to this year’s Hugo voters.

Oh and if you are wondering what the TSA has to say when you take a rocket through airport security, it was one word: “Nice!”

2022 Worldcon Schedule

These are the panels I am scheduled for this year at Worldcon in Chicago. I will also be at a number of other events (Hugo Awards stuff and other things) still being scheduled.  Clarkesworld will not have a table in the dealer’s room this time (sorry, only at cons I can drive to). If you see me wandering around though and would like to chat, feel free to stop me. If you’ve had a story rejected by me at Clarkesworld, you can always ask for the card. If you don’t know what that is, you can ask about that too. Good icebreakers.

Launching and Maintaining a Magazine (Crystal Ballroom C)
Thursday, September 1, 2022, 1:00 PM CDT

Table Talk – Neil Clarke (Crystal Foyer)
Thursday, September 1, 2022, 4:00 PM CDT

Get to Know Short Fiction Publications (Crystal Ballroom A)
Friday, September 2, 2022, 4:00 PM CDT

Ask an Editor: Short Fiction (Michigan 1)
Saturday, September 3, 2022, 1:00 PM CDT

Best of the Year (Crystal Ballroom A)
Saturday, September 3, 2022, 4:00 PM CDT

Autographing – Neil Clarke
Sunday, September 4, 2022, 11:30 AM CDT

Hugo Awards Rehearsal
Sunday, September 4, 2:30pm – 3pm Pro Artist / Editors (Short & Long form)

The State of the Translation Market (Randolph 3)
Sunday, September 4, 2022, 4:00 PM CDT

Hugo Awards Reception
Sunday, September 4, 2022, 6-8pm

Hugo Awards Ceremony
Sunday, September 4, 2022, 8pm-who knows

Sorry for not including the names of the other panelists, but it’s not easy to copy and paste from the scheduling system. I’ll add them when I have it in an easier to use format.

Spanish Language Submissions at Clarkesworld

In a November 2020 editorial, I announced our plans to hold a Spanish language submission window at Clarkesworld sometime in 2021. What I didn’t see coming was seven months of kidney stones and related hospital stays. It became very difficult to keep up with my normal obligations and fell behind on more than a few. This inevitably led to the project being delayed.

For much of 2022, work on this project has been in the background. I spent months working on revisions to our submissions system. I would go as far to say that these changes are the most significant updates I’ve made to the software since I began working on it in 2008. More recently, a small group of volunteers translated all the author-side text, prompts, and emails into Spanish so they could be added to the system. I hope to move this update into production during the next month or two.

This month, I will start training our Spanish language team on English language submissions. We have a few people on-board, but it would be nice to have a few more. Here is what it entails:

  • reading 1000-8000 word science fiction stories submitted in Spanish and providing notes (in English)
  • if you will not be recommending a story for translation, it does not need to be read through to the end,  but you will need provide a short summary of what you read, and your reasons for rejecting it (these will be kept confidential)
  • if you will be recommending a story for translation, you will need to provide a thorough summary and your reasons for recommending it (also confidential)
  • you may occasionally be called upon to give a second opinion of a story recommended by another reader
  • response time is important to us, so we’d like readers to commit to reading three-five stories each day
  • the submission window for this trial project is one month, but may be extended to two if we don’t receive a satisfactory number of submissions from a variety of Spanish speaking regions of the world in the first month
  • training will take place on live English language submissions so we can better assess and provide feedback on your summaries and comments (during training, we read every story you read)
  • the dates for our submission window is directly related to how well training goes and the team’s availability (we hope late 2022, at worst early 2023)
  • we take confidentiality very seriously–you are not permitted to talk about stories, cover letters, authors, or any other data found in submissions or our submission system with anyone outside of our fiction team

When it comes to slush readers, we normally look for people are (or want to be) authors or editors. (We see this as an educational opportunity and it serves those groups best.) We also expect a certain level of familiarity with what we’ve published in recent years and an ability to clearly state your likes and dislikes, even if you know I won’t agree. (Tell me what you think. Not what you think I want to hear.) Obviously, you should be fluent in Spanish and English.

During the time you are working with us on this project, you will not be permitted to submit your own fiction in either language. A small stipend will be provided.

If you are interested, please fill out this form and we’ll be in touch.

We’ve received far more applications than expected and are currently reviewing them.

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