Back on Sunday I went to a workshop on the short story market hosted by Michael Matheson. Matheson is a short story author and is also one of the editors at Apex Magazine, an online magazine for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror.
The workshop took place in the basement of Bakka Phoenix books, Toronto’s #1 destination for genre literature and a hub of the local speculative fiction scene. Included with the cost of admission was a copy of Masked Mosaic (which I would have been buying otherwise, so natch!) and a coupon for 10% off books in the store valid only for that day.
I’ll get into the workshop in greater detail for a moment but I just want to pause and mention this is a bookstore doing the right things. Bakka Phoenix provided both a reason to draw readers into the store (workshop) and then an incentive to purchase books (10% off coupon valid only that day).
Would the book I bought cost less on Amazon? Actually no, once you factor in shipping. But notwithstanding that, it wouldn’t have mattered. I was primed to buy a book.
Becoming a place for readers to gather, for writers to learn, for authors to be discovered: this is what bookstores can do. And in the process they sell books and stay in business.
Now, onto the workshop.
One of the key topics of discussion was the division between token markets, semi-pro markets and pro markets. Michael went over nomenclature, discussed what to expect from each and provided examples of some good markets to submit to within the semi-pro and pro categories.
We discussed the peril of markets that offer exposure in lieu of payment and we went over how to decide what markets you should submit to.
From there Michael segued into the qualities of a good short story editor and provided a local example in the form of Leah Bobet, the publisher of Ideomancer. (So authors who are looking for a good market with a good editor might want to check out Ideomancer’s submission guidelines.)
Which is another thing we talked about, the importance of reading submission guidelines and following them. After all, the process of finding the right market goes beyond just finding a good market and a good editor to work with. It’s even more important to find a market appropriate for your story and to present yourself professionally. And even so that doesn’t guarantee you a sale.
Michael went into the mysterious art of rejectomancy and talked about the life cycle of short story publications, including how that cycle can affect the saleability of a story.
We went from that discussion into a discussion on some things to avoid, both in the form of markets that may exhibit problems, why these problems happen, what to look out for in a contract (remember to always ask for non-exclusive anthology rights), and then how to write a cover letter.
We wrapped up with a chat about writing bios and some questions about how to know when you’re ready to start submitting. Then we all bought books and retired to the pub.
All in all it was a great time and well worth the price of admission. I’ll certainly be on the lookout for other workshops at Bakka Phoenix.
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