Years of looking at the bibliographies of up-and-coming authors have taught me that in the science fiction world, there are three main groupings of markets. The first grouping contains the online mags: Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, Apex, and Strange Horizons. In the second group are the digest mags whose stories hew more closely to core 90s-style humanist SF: Asimov’s and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. And the third group holds the remnants of the Golden Age, stories that are more idea- or adventure-driven: Writers of the Future, Analog, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, and the now-closed Jim Baen’s Universe. The fantasy groupings are a little different, but to a large extent, these groupings even hold for those stories.
Authors can sell novels, hit best-seller lists, and win awards without ever breaking out of their grouping. A good example is Catherynne Valente. She’s a fairly prolific short story writer whose stories are a massive influence on the world of contemporary fantasy and sci-fi, but I don’t think she’s ever published a story in any of the group two or three magazines.
Which really doesn’t mean anything, of course. The three groups differ primarily because they have different audiences. In order to be a successful author, you don’t need to appeal to multiple audiences…you just need to find your audience; and Cat Valente has clearly managed to do that. Or we can look at Ted Chiang, who’s never really published a story in groups one or three. Or Eric James Stone, who hasn’t really published a story in groups one or two (except for a reprint in Apex in 2009).
All I’m really saying is that with this story sale, I’m now a cross-group author. Woot.
This story was at IGMS for 143 days before I queried (about three weeks ago). My query shook loose a revision request (editor Edmund Schubert wanted to see a different ending). Ten days after I submitted the revision, he accepted the story.
This is probably my most-revised story. I polished it up to what I thought was perfection and sent it out (to Apex) about a year ago, and then submitted it to a workshop class (with Nick Mamatas, in Berkeley), where he told me it was too long (and that the ending was bad). I went through it really exhaustively, cutting about a thousand words and polishing it up to perfection again, only to have to do a third round of revision before I could actually sell it.
I’m really happy about this. I’ve done two revision requests before (for Shimmer and Strange Horizons), and after failing to sell the stories, I’d become somewhat cynical about the whole request-for-revision game. But now I suppose my faith in sunshine and love and puppydogs has been restored. It’s also always good to sell to a new market. And this is my tenth pro sale, so I can cross that off my goals list as well. The story should appear in May.