Welcome to the blog of science fiction author Eileen Rhoadarmer--where science fiction and Mommyhood collide!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cheap Security or the Uncertain Promise of Something Greater?

Well, I've heard the definitive word on A Glitch in the Continuum.  And I don't know what I'm going to do.

Basically, what it boils down to is this:  I've been offered a quarter of the money I originally agreed to, plus a PDF copy of the book.  If I choose to buy a real copy, I can get it for 40% off the cover price.  So when you factor in the fact that yes, I would like a copy of the book my work appears in, I'd only be making a few bucks.  Token payment.

With the exception of a few pieces of flash that quickly ran out of markets, I never submit to token markets.  Semi-pro is my minimum.  So if Pandora's Time had never been contracted, I wouldn't even have blinked at a market with these terms.  But the fact of the matter is, it's already been accepted to Glitch.  If I don't expend any more energy on this piece, it can have a home in this anthology.

But on the other hand, I placed this story at the third market I submitted it to.  Normally I apply a top-down approach to my submissions:  I submit to pro paying markets first, and then start working through the semi-pros when I exhaust the pro options.  Pandora's Time, however, only went to one pro market.  The other two were both time-travel-themed anthologies, both of which were semi-pro payment, because I thought my odds of success were better in an anthology that fit my story's theme.  And it worked, it was accepted to the second anthology.

Not only that, it was basically accepted with honors.  What I mean by that is, after getting the acceptance, I stopped by the Twisted Library forums to say thanks and see how things were going.  Once there, I was flattered to learn that Pandora's Time was one of three stories that were accepted hands-down.  It took several more weeks (possibly longer, I don't remember the timeline) for the editor to finish sorting through the rest of the submissions.  So I know it was good enough, at least for that editor, to make it right away.  That gives me hope that it could fare well at other markets--particularly since there are several pro-paying markets it's never been to.

I like Pandora's Time, and I think it's one of my stronger pieces.  The Twisted Library even helped me figure out which ending was the best (I'd had trouble figuring out which of many endings to use at first) and I think it's now stronger than it was when I submitted it to Asimov's.

I don't really like the idea of giving my story to a press for so little money and not even getting a bound copy of the book in return.  But there's still the fact that, well...it's already been accepted.  Saying 'yes' to this new press would be a solid, guaranteed credit.  Saying 'no' and resubmitting it could get me more money in the long run, but on the other hand, it could just doom Pandora's Time to sit in slush pile limbo for several years.  As my husband put it, I can either say "No, I'm a professional writer and I deserve to get paid for my work and I will hold out for that," or I can say "Yes, I guess I'll give it away for almost free in order to get another credit and hopefully gain a little more exposure and clout."  This would never have been an issue if these were the original terms, because again, I never would have submitted to it.  But this is how my dilemma now stands.

I'm not asking anyone to tell me what to do, but I am curious what you all would do if placed in the same situation.  Which do you think is more important?

1 comment:

Ben Godby said...

I think the most important thing is, "Do you want your work to appear here?" An anthology or magazine is every bit an artwork as the stories that comprise it: the editors choose the works that make for a holistic experience they wish to convey. However, that holistic experience re-schematizes your work, contextualizes it, breathes into it a certain kind of life that may or may not be equivalent with your original vision.

Furthermore, the money can't always speak to the quality. A lot of professional writers and editors will do charity anthologies. I also just bought a copy of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, a token-paying market, partly because Jeff VanderMeer, one of my favourite authors, has lauded their publisher, Small Beer Press, but primarily because it features Rahul Kanakia, an author whose work I really admire. If I like the look of the publication overall once I've read it, I'll submit there - irrespective of their pay-rates.

A couple months ago I realized that I really like my job, and that realization made me realize that my art should be for art's sake, not for money. In other words, I'm resigned to probably never being a truly professional writer; so why not just try to participate in the things I love, and reject the things I don't like?

All that positive emotion, though, can't override the fact that a lot of semi-pro zines make me feel uneasy. I hope you resolve your quandary soon!