Friday, January 1, 2010

Writers guidelines updated

I put up a revised version of the M-Brane guidelines today, and I'll copy it below. Not much has changed but I tried to clarify a little bit where my taste in stories is nowadays.

UPDATED 1/1/10

First, the bullet points. I'll elaborate on them somewhat below.

GENRE: Science fiction (any variety)
NOT: Horror and fantasy unless it has a strong science fictional underpinning; paranormal/occult; In Seach Of...type myths-and-monsters stuff, UFOs, ghosts, Big Foots, Loch Ness Monsters, Yetis, chupacabras, etc.
WORD COUNT: no lower or upper limit, though be advised that I'm not the biggest fan of "flash" fiction
SIMUL-SUBS: Yeah, sure, who cares?
REPRINTS: Maybe. Query about it.
E-SUBS: Only. I'll not look at paper mail (and won't even give out an address for such).
SUBMISSION FORMAT: Standard mss format is just great, though I don't really care so long as it's readable. All submissions should be sent to as anattachment in .doc or .docx or .rtf form.

If you want to know more about my biases before dashing off your mss, continue reading below....

Genre: I've been getting a lot of straight-up horror and dark fantasy submissions lately. While I may welcome elements of these genres, the stories still need to be somehow science fictional. In other words, the speculative or weird elements should be grounded in some kind of development of science, technology, or society that has (at least within the context of the story) a rational basis. No magic or wizardry or supernatural evil, please. As for specifically what sorts of sf I like best, it's hard to pin down. My mood changes over time. Lately, I am not as excited as I once was about space opera and epic galactic empire stories. On the other hand, small-scale character-focused stories set in such a milieu might work. I  have seen scores of stories during the past year focused on the shenanigans of university professors and their students (usually involving time travel or some other secret lab project). I'd like to not see so many of those in 2010, thanks. And time travel in general, even without professors, is wearing me out.

Nowadays, I like hard sf with strong characters and softer sf with a literary bent. Weirdness is great if not supernatural in its origin. I like most of the "punk" subgenres fairly well as long as there's a story supporting the aesthetic. M-Brane has been characterized by at least a couple of readers as dystopian. If true, it's not deliberate; hopeful, positive-outlook tales are welcome, too, and I am personally very technophilic. M-Brane SF is open to fiction with queer/LGBT content. Also, this zine is not aimed at children, so adult language and erotic content is not excluded when it makes sense in a story.

Payment is still a paltry $10.00 flat per story paid on publication, with an option of taking instead a subscription to the PDF edition of the zine. For this meager fee, I ask for First North American Serial Rights, with all remaining rights reverting to the writer upon publication. Payments are made by Pay Pal.

Reprints: I will consider reprints, but query me about it first. I probably will not offer cash payment for reprints, however. Compensation will instead be the PDF subscription option.

I'm not offering any payment for art at this time. But I'll look at it and consider publishing it. I can offer some fairly good exposure for it on the blog as well.

I have not yet published much of this, but I would still like to see some. I am interested in thoughtful pieces about sf authors and books, interviews and scholarly criticism. I am not currently offering payment for non-fiction, but any that I take for the magazine will also get published on the M-Braneblog.

A note on manuscript format:
I run a "green" operation. I don't print anything. No paper or ink are killed in reading stories for M-Brane. I do all of my slush reading on my screen, and every submission I receive ends up getting reformatted into a style that suits me best for this, which is why I don't care much about manuscript format. If I accept your story for publication, however, I may ask you repair your document if it's formatted in web style with no indents and double spaces between paragraphs and if it resists for some reason easy reformatting on my end. I've been getting docs lately that have been causing me a lot of work in manually removing formatting weirdnesses. M-Brane looks like a traditional book with paragraph indentations, and with double spaces between paragraphs used only when there is a scene break.

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