Sunday, July 18, 2010

Writers guidelines updated

A slight change has been made to the last guidelines update (from January). M-Brane SF no longer considers reprints. While I haven't (knowingly) published very many, I used to be open to them. But, alas, no more. Also, we now acquire First World English Rights rather than First North American Serial Rights, and we are serious about the "First" part of that phrase. Evidently some writers (or at least one that I know of so far) find it acceptable to shop the same story around to different zines and actually contract for "First" rights more than once, without ever mentioning previous publication. Here this is frowned upon, and is actually downright dangerous to one's prospects of getting published anywhere else since I am an email away from about 1000 other genre press editors nearly all of whom would take a similarly dim view of such chicanery. Other than the fact that I now consider previously published work dead to me unless you are the Second Coming of Samuel Delany (or Delany himself), I am as easy to work with and writer-friendly as ever.  The guidelines now read as follows:

UPDATED 7/19/10
to change advice on REPRINTS from "Maybe. Query." to "No."

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; not into paranormal/occult; In Search 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? Just let me know that it is one.
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 World English Rights with all remaining rights reverting to the writer upon publication. Payments are made exclusively by Pay Pal.

Reprints: Consideration of reprints has been ruined for everyone.

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 to 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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Geraldo said...

You only pay $10.00? That's less than a cheeseburger deluxe. You really should pay professional rates, or at the very least strive to pay semi-pro rates or a decent flat fee. Sometimes writers make a living at this, and it's a known fact that, in some circumstances, reprints can be submitted for the lifetime of a writer's career. How can a writer live on ten dollars? Unless you are just a hobbyist publication, then it is understandable.

mbranesf said...


The zine generates no income. Its costs come out of my pocket. It publishes monthly. Those are three of many reasons why I don't pay pro rates. Also, you are sadly misinformed if you believe that any writer makes a living selling genre short fiction. The idea is ludicrous. Ask any pro writer if he/she makes his/primary living from short fiction sales, and you will get told the same answer ("No") and probably laughed away.

I don't what you mean by a "hobbyist publication," but this, too, suggests that you don't much about the topic. Very, very few people in the world make their actual professional income off of editing and publishing short fiction. Of the literally thousands of short fiction publications in the world, there's a bare handful of them which actually employ people. So, yeah, in that sense, I guess it is a "hobbyist publication," just like nearly all the rest of them.

As to your comment on reprints, NO, you CANNOT resell first rights. Yeah, you can reprint all you want if you find publishers who want reprints, but it is expected that such items carry acknowledgements that they have been previously published, but NO ONE will knowingly contract for FIRST rights on a reprint, and a writer who tries to re-sell first rights is a douchebag.

If you yourself are a short story writer who thinks that one day you will "make a living at this," I'd suggest you set that dream aside and instead be happy with the fact that it's a great creative outlet that might, if you are very talented, earn you a few bucks. But you will never earn your whole living at it.

Anonymous said...

For me and numerous others who have contributed to, and been successful in being accepted for your magazine, it has never been about the money.
I am happy that my story was deemed good enough to be accepted for publication, and that it will be seen by a wider audience (hopefully leading to more recognition).
I, for one, applaud you for your fine work and hope that it may continue.
Kind Regards

Cat Rambo said...

As a writer who tries to make money off my writing, I do try the pro markets first. But I also try to support the smaller magazines, particularly when I've got an abundance of stories.

The criteria I use is a combination of payment, response time, quality of exposure, how writers are treated, and the look of the magazine. MBrane does well on more than one of those. I've had two stories in MBrane and been very pleased with how I was treated as writer, as well as the look of the magazine.

Christopher Fletcher said...

Thanks for you comments, Cat. Because I do have such a small-budget operation, I don't have much else to offer other than a decent-looking zine and good treatment of its writers, so I do try to get those things right as close to all the time as humanly possible. And I am always delighted when pros (such as yourself) send me submissions in the same way that they would to a higher-paying market. I totally get it that my zine would not be a pro-level writer's first choice, but there are a lot more great stories around then there are pro markets for them, so I endeavor to offer a place for such stories. Because a lot of writers who do, in fact, get paid pro rates for much of their work submit stories to me all time, it makes me feel like I am doing something right.


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