So the March issue of Asimovs will soon be off the stands, completing the 90 day span in which my stories have been pushed out to 25,000 readers or so, mostly as paper. Newsstand sales make up less than 10% of that number, but they do occur, as this photo conclusivelly proves. Knowing that an issue exists, on the stands, with my name in it, my story in it, has been wonderful.
I walk from magazine stand to magazine stand and I look at them, on the rack. I’ve spent at least one day for each issue doing this. I guess this should be embarrassing. But it isn’t.
Small upticks in circulation at Asimovs and Analog, combining paper and digital sales suggest that on the whole that e-readers aren’t simply cannibalizing print sales but are broadening the genre short fiction readership. Good new for those of us writing it! The end of the fiction magazine has been somewhat delayed, which is a good thing.
Still, short fiction nowadays is mostly a training ground, a place to find a voice and learn a craft and find a community. It is also of course a destination, a thing-in-itself, worthy, like poetry or fine art, of serious attention and respect. As with fine art and poetry a handful of rock-stars even make a kind of living mostly doing it.
But writers making a living write at longer lengths. My first novella sale to Asimovs in 2013 represents my first step down that path, away from short fiction, towards the novel. It is time to get cracking. I’m healthy, I have the time and the support, and for the first time in my life, I can safely say, I seem to be able to to this at a professional level. Sheila Williams and Gordon Van Gelder are people I respect. These are magazines I respect.
When I have read them over the years, I’ve never really felt, ever, “why is this in here?” Some stories are more to my tastes than others, but in every story I’ve read, I’ve caught some spark, some flash of quality, some thing that made me think, yeah, OK, I see why they bought this.
Now I have no choice but have a similar feeling about my own work. I’m in this game.
I may not be to everyone’s taste. I’m probably a tiny footnote in the grand history of the genre. But my ticket has been stamped. I am on my way. If I am ever to do this thing the time is now.
I read the magazines and reach out to my fellow writers, my TOC mates (writers who share a table-of-contents) and I walk the icy streets of Boston and Cambridge, looking at my issues on the rack, reminding myself, that my time is now. I’m a late bloomer. Maybe that’s OK. Keep moving. Make your mark.
I invite my fellow writers, young and old, to reach out to each other. Write notes to the writers you have loved your whole life, and tell them so. Write notes to your TOC mates. Do workshops and conventions. Bring yourself to this thing. I left fiction for twenty years and now I’m back and it is still here, still real, still important, as meaningful as you yourself make it.