Wait, isn’t this the opposite of what I posted last week!?
Well, I think it’s important to have a look at what everyone involved has to say. My personal conclusions about writing for free haven’t changed, but this article by Mathew Ingram is a rebuttal of (or at least a reply to) the recent New York Times piece.
As more than one person pointed out during the debate on Twitter that followed the publication of the piece, there have always been people willing to write for nothing —the barriers to entry are just a lot lower now. To some, that is a great thing, a democratization of content that allows anyone to reach a potential audience, but to others these writers who work for free are like virtual “scabs” crossing a picket line and endangering the livelihood of other writers.
I don’t disagree with Mathew at all – in fact I even describe the circumstances around which I personally support writing for free. And yes, of course writers have always worked for free or for little money; I’ve often espoused my belief that if you are writing fiction for the sole purpose of making money you probably shouldn’t be writing.
Having said that, though, I didn’t quite see the original article’s core complaint as ‘we shouldn’t write for free’, but rather ‘we shouldn’t be expected to work for free’. If you offer your services for free, or negotiate after the fact, that’s different. Being approached by a business to give up free work so they can make a profit, though? I’m not entirely sure. Exposure isn’t quite quid pro quo.
A number of people tried to argue that publishers are the ones who set the price for things, and they are ruining the industry by not paying writers — although even Kreider admits in his piece that most of the people asking him to do things for free have little or no money. But the point is that this view of the industry gets things exactly backwards: the reality is that media or content broadly speaking has gone from being primarily supply-driven to almost totally demand-driven, and that has changed the economics in some fundamental ways.
It’s a worthwhile read, so check it out in full here: http://paidcontent.org/2013/10/28/no-writing-for-free-isnt-slavery-and-other-misconceptions-about-the-economics-of-online-media/
Scigentasy: Gender Stories in Science Fiction and Fantasy is looking for inclusive genre stories and articles:
- Stories by women and other underrepresented individuals (This does not mean that white, able-bodied men can’t submit here. Stories commenting on traditional or unfair gender stereotypes that affect males, for example, are more than welcome.)
- Stories that conceptualize progressive change
- Stories that promote or in some way address equal rights and social justice for all
- Stories with inclusive feminist themes. That is, stories that recognize all women, not just white middle class ones
- Stories that highlight the intersection of race, class, and gender
- Stories with a positive outlook and with ideas and modes of life we can aspire to
- Stories that show the darker side of gender and identity issues, that aren’t afraid to dig up and discuss injustice (and we recognize that such stories will not always end on a positive note–that’s just fine)
In the simplest of terms, we want great science fiction and fantasy stories that have at least one character who pushes, explores, or in some way addresses gender boundaries.
Scigentasy publishes 500 to 5,000 word stories and pay a decent $3 cents per word (a flat $10 for reprints)
Check the details out here, including non-fiction and art guidelines: http://www.scigentasy.com/submissions-2/
For your Friday entertainment, and with apologies to those with accessibility problems (the source poem is an image, not text)
Over at Scriptshadow we find a great list of things that make a story terrible, focusing on the by-now-notorious failures of M. Night Shyamalan (specifically, The Lady in the Water).
I think the real reason there are so many M. Night haters is that he’s so defiant about his script’s problems. While he never comes out and says it, his m.o. after a flop is to insinuate that critics and audiences don’t “get it.” Maybe if M. Night had some humility and took himself a little less seriously, he’d endear a lot of those fans to come back to his side (or at least not spend half their day pounding him on message boards). I picked “Lady In The Water” to analyze because I believe it’s the moment audiences first began to realize that M. Night may be a one-trick pony.
Although the article is about screenwriting, it applies to narratives in general. It covers:
- Never place symbolism or theme above story
- Listen to criticism
- Don’t drown your story in mythology –
- Quirky for quirk’s sake is a recipe for disaster
- Beware coincidences when writing screenplays
- The “fate” excuse isn’t good enough
- Beware the close cousin of coincidence: convenience
- Use gas on your emotional beats, not nuclear power
- Silly/goofy choices
Read the explanations for each of those points right here: http://scriptshadow.net/10-screenwriting-mistakes-to-avoid-via-m-nights-the-lady-in-the-water/
Whippleshield Books is open for submissions to its first anthology in a series of mini-anthologies, Aphrodite Terra:
I’m looking for stories that are realistic, but that doesn’t mean they have to be science/space fiction. However, the planet Venus has to feature in there somewhere. Your story could be about the first attempt to land on Venus, or life in a habitat on the surface. It might describe a present-day group of engineers and scientists controlling a probe on the surface of Venus; or perhaps a journalist discovering evidence of a past secret mission to the planet. There are plenty of tales that can be told about Venus. Surprise me. I’m big on realism, so I’ll be looking for that. And good literary prose too.
The word limit is 6,000 words, and the anthology has room for four or five stories. Payment is 3p per word, but be warned, this isn’t a market for straightforward science fiction:
My plan is to publish a series of mini-anthologies, each themed around a planetary body and containing around 20,000 to 25,000 words. But I’m not really interested in science fiction per se. I want fiction which lives at the point where the borders of science fiction and space fiction meet literary fiction.
Ian doesn’t know which planetary body to pick for his next anthology, but if Venus isn’t quite your thing you should keep an eye on the Whippleshield Books site (or here on Monday Markets; I’m sure I’ll see his next mini-antho guidelines fly by).
You can find the full submission guidelines here: http://whippleshieldbooks.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/venus-is-open-for-colonisation/
It’s halloween! A Dutch funeral products company designed a coffin that doubles as a bookshelf while you’re still alive:
‘Death has to be understood, just like birth, as an important part of life,’ says Rademaker. ‘I made the coffin because it must become easier to discuss death and integrate it with life. Death does not come after life, death belongs to life. You should be able to discuss death in an unforced, natural way, just as you talk to people about expecting a baby, bringing up children, or your relationships.’
Check it out here: http://bookriot.com/2012/10/29/a-bookshelf-that-becomes-gulp-your-coffin/
A detailed article from The Book Designer on considerations for your self-published print book, including the different formats and sizes offered by the various online printing services and distributors:
Some pricing on digital books is in a range of sizes rather than having a different price for every different size, but that only helps a bit.
If you plan to print offset, you’ll need to specify the exact size in your request for an estimate. So one way or the other, it’s good to figure out near the beginning of your planning.
I can’t really add much to this. If you are looking into self-publishing in print I’d click through right now.
Full article here: http://www.thebookdesigner.com/book-sizes/
Nothing new here, of course, but it bears repeating: Don’t just work for free without carefully considering it:
People who would consider it a bizarre breach of conduct to expect anyone to give them a haircut or a can of soda at no cost will ask you, with a straight face and a clear conscience, whether you wouldn’t be willing to write an essay or draw an illustration for them for nothing. They often start by telling you how much they admire your work, although not enough, evidently, to pay one cent for it. “Unfortunately we don’t have the budget to offer compensation to our contributors…” is how the pertinent line usually starts. But just as often, they simply omit any mention of payment.
Personally, I’m happy to write and contribute for friends and acquaintances (within reason), and I’ve been known to politely refuse token payments for small publications after delivering a story. Note, however, the vast difference between politely refusing a $20 payment and being expected to deliver a story or article for free, even when the net financial change in my wallet is $0. It’s about expectations and professional respect.
Practicalities aside, money is also how our culture defines value, and being told that what you do is of no ($0.00) value to the society you live in is, frankly, demoralizing. Even sort of insulting. And of course when you live in a culture that treats your work as frivolous you can’t help but internalize some of that devaluation and think of yourself as something less than a bona fide grown-up.
I’m, like, totes a legit grown up, though, I’ll have you know.
Read the full article here: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/10/27/opinion/sunday/slaves-of-the-internet-unite.html
Look at an entertaining flowchart on how to determine if you should work for free here: http://www.shouldiworkforfree.com/
Twelfth Planet Press managed to raise enough funds on their Pozible campaign (which still has 3 days left on it!) to open submissions to their new diverse YA anthology, Kaleidoscope:
Kaleidoscope is an anthology of contemporary YA science fiction and fantasy with a focus on diverse perspectives. Alisa Krasnostein (founder of Twelfth Planet Press, and winner of the World Fantasy Award in 2011) and Julia Rios (fiction editor at Strange Horizons, and host of the Outer Alliance Podcast) are co-editing this project, which we hope to fill with a variety of exciting tales, happy and sad, adventurous and meditative. We’re not simply looking for cookie-cutter vampire or urban fantasy stories, but for things that transport us and subvert our expectations.
They are specifically looking for fantasy and science fiction from 2,500 to 10,000 words, featuring (among other criteria):
*Protagonists who are characters of color, disabled, neurodiverse, mentally ill, QUILTBAG, people with non-western cultural backgrounds, or otherwise diverse (not the typical straight, white, cisgender, able-bodied, western characters).
*Contemporary settings: modern day Earth life should be part of the story. It’s okay if there is a portal to a fantasy world, but we want characters to have some grounding in this world, too.
Payment is at professional rates of 5 cents per word (USD), and you have until the end of December to send in your submissions. Get writing!
Full guidelines here: http://kaleidoscope.twelfthplanetpress.com/?page_id=42
Everyone loves a good bad guy/gal, and so the Writer’s Digest folks (in this case, guest author Brian Klems) offer some tips on how to flesh out your antagonist:
Luckily, transforming your antagonist from a one-dimensional paper doll into a force to be reckoned with—and remembered—is completely possible if you implement a few simple but powerful methods for creating antagonists and expanding their roles. You can build a worthy adversary during the outlining process or beef one up when you revise your already completed draft. It’s never too late.
He breaks it down for us in 6 steps. I like step 3, actually, as something that seems obvious to me only after reading it. It’s tempting in Science Fiction, for example, to face off against Big Evil Corporation. But it’s not really that satisfying when you think about it.
- Remember that Antagonists are people, too.
- Eschew the totally evil antagonist (except, possibly, in some horror or monster stories).
- If you’re tempted to say your antagonist is a corporation, disease or war—don’t.
- Make your antagonist at least as smart, strong and capable as the protagonist.
- Keep the tension strong when the antagonist is a friend, ally or loved one.
- If your antagonist remains hidden for much of the story (as in a mystery), give him proxies or let him work behind the scenes.
Read the details of those points here: http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/6-ways-to-write-better-bad-guys