Last year was lousy. Tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, terror attacks, Iraq (still). The year before wasn't much better. So what's ahead next year?
As writers and editors of speculative fiction, some of us will try to come to grips with trends and predictions for the coming years in our work -- some of us already have. Is our current global warming a natural cycle that has occurred thousands of times in our planet's history, or is humankind's impact on the environment causing it, or making it worse this time? Will terrorism continue to plague us, or will some sort of compromise -- a sharing of wealth and resources -- be reached? What will be the consequences of any of these possibilities? Some of us will write and read to try to cope, while others will try to escape from our frightening world into worlds where the danger seems, if not less, at least simpler ... and solvable.
Whatever we write, we need places to publish our work. How did that go this last year?
As I've said many times, the paying marketplace seems stable to growing (see chart below). Markets come and go -- the well and the lesser known, low paying and professional. The average number of "Semi- & Pro Markets" seems to stay about the same, year after year. We lose the likes of SciFiction and Lenox Avenue, but gain Baen's Universe and the Intergalactic Medicine Show. "Paying Markets" and "4theLuv Markets" tend to be in an upward slope, but I suspect they may top out sometime soon. One disheartening trend is the beginning of non-paying markets that are not markets at all, but attempts to move scam and spyware threats into new areas. I try to weed these out, but it is difficult with so many markets. Once again, I appeal for your help in this by letting me know of anything suspicious you find.
The biggest factor in response times and rejection rates is that there are more people writing. The competition is stiffer than ever before. Any market that pays anything (and some of the best non-paying markets) is constantly swamped with submissions. More than ever writers need to submit smart: research your intended market, make sure they're looking for your kind of story, read at least one issue, and comply with the guidelines. There's simply no sense in firing off a story to a market you know nothing about and hoping it fits. Your submission will most likely be rejected and it clogs up the queue for stories that belong there. Submitting smart will not only help you, but every other writer.
In November this year, I'll celebrate ten years of being on the World Wide Web. 120 months of updates, new, and dead markets. 3650 days of links, response times, market help articles, and so on. About (as best I can figure) 15000 hours working the pages. From Ralan's Home on the Web (debut November 1996) to Ralan's SpecFic & Humor Webstravaganza and Ralan's Spectravaganza it has been a labor of love. And apart from the hours that I've been more than willing to give to this cause, I owe it all to you who assist me with market tips, new links, financial donations, and just plain moral support.
In October of last year, 26,808 people visited the pages of Ralan.com, a new record high. Indeed, the number of visitors has steadily grown from the beginning. There are now 1500 subscribers to this Monthly Report. I humbly thank you all and wish you all success, peace, and joy in the coming year. Bests,