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Clarke
Posted on Saturday, December 17, 2005 - 07:31 am:   

My name's Thomas, and I live in Belgium. I've been writing (again) for the past few years now, having picked up the thread I once started when I was a wee lad. I'm finally planning to send stuff out now, to magazines, publishers, basically anyone who might care. But I've a few questions.

First of all, I'd like to try and send some stories to F&SF Magazine. My first question there is a how-to question; it says on the website that "Writers from abroad are encouraged to send recyclable manuscripts with a letter-sized SASE and an International Reply Coupon or 80 cents in US postage". I've no idea what this means, exactly. I know an SASE is a self-addressed stamped envelope, but an international reply coupon? Or how to include 80 cents in US postage? I'm not even sure what double-spaced means, which is apparently also one of the requirements for sending stories to the magazine. Help!

My second question is about publishers and agents and the like. I'd like to know more about the whole process of contacting them, and about getting published. I've zero experience in this field, but I'd like to try and get my work out there. Again my question here is: how? I know of no addresses to send stuff to, and I've no idea how to seek them out even on the net.

That's all for now; I'm eagerly awaiting any help you can give me. Thanks in advance.

PS: I've uploaded a few things at http://www.spoiledink.com/Clarke , a website for people to share poetry and short stories. In case anyone wants to check out some of my writings.

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Vylar Kaftan
Posted on Saturday, December 17, 2005 - 10:00 am:   

I can answer a few questions for you.

I don't know anything about international reply coupons, but I bet your post office could help you. (Or one of the many international readers of this board.)

Doubled-spaced means that instead of a solid block of text, you have a blank space between each line. It's an automatic feature on word processors (you don't have to type all the blank lines). Look in the menu options to find it.

You may want to read more about manuscript preparation; it's actually fairly involved. Here are two links that may help:

http://www.sfwa.org/writing/vonda/vonda.htm
http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html

Also, I'd take the time to read some of the old threads on this bulletin board--ones with helpful-sounding names like "Cover Letters" and so forth.

As for contacting publishers/agents, that completely depends. Do you mean for novels, or short stories? If you mean short stories, then you don't need an agent. One good source for short story markets is ralan.com. The listings are useful, and up-to-date.

One important thing you should know is that any writing you put on your website is now considered published. You will have trouble placing those stories at most magazines, which require unpublished work. I suggest writing new stories and not putting them online.

I think you may want to do more research before you start submitting stories. It gets really expensive after a while, especially from overseas, and you won't want to be wasting money. When I was new to story submission, I found "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Science Fiction" by Cory Doctorow helpful. You may want to look at it, or at other books which people can recommend.

Good luck.
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ET
Posted on Saturday, December 17, 2005 - 04:47 pm:   

Good advice there by Vylar.

I'd suggest reading most of the stuff on the http://www.sfwa.org/writing/ page, not just that specific article.

You can order 80c stamps from the USPS (www.usps.com). It says so on the guidelines page ("You can obtain US postage online from www.usps.com.") so I'm surprised you missed that.

IRCs are something that the local post office should be able to supply you with (though not all people at all post offices even know about them). They are "notes" worth a certain amount in postage. It's much cheaper to get US stamps, though.

As Vylar said, magazines might consider your story previously published if it's available online. That's not true for all, though. For example, Baen's Universe will publish even previously published stories, as long as they weren't published in a professional publication.
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Clarke
Posted on Sunday, December 18, 2005 - 05:16 am:   

Thanks for all the help so far guys. I read through those two links and found them very useful. Another question I have is; can I just delete the stories I've put online now if they're considered "published" this way, and then send them in? I'd hate to find that I can't send them anywhere anymore just because I happen to have put them on some site.
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ET
Posted on Sunday, December 18, 2005 - 07:23 am:   

I think it'd be up to each editor. Typically, even if you take a page down, there are ways to get it (Wayback Machine, Google cache, ...). However, I'd guess that most editors (and publishers) aren't that strict. I think it'd be safe enough to submit and only mention this to the editor after you get an acceptance. ("I had the page on the web and removed it; is that a problem?") But I can't really speak for editors in general (no one can).
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Loquacious lad
Posted on Sunday, December 18, 2005 - 07:25 am:   

That reminds me of a question I've had for some time; given the existence of archived internet sites such as the wayback machine, is a deleted story that has once appeared on the internet ever truly deleted?
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Vylar Kaftan
Posted on Sunday, December 18, 2005 - 10:45 am:   

You should always let an editor know upfront if a piece has any publication history, such as having been online. It's up to the editor to decide whether they'd consider it published under those circumstances.

I suggest writing new stories anyway; that's the best way to improve. And now you know not to self-publish the stories on a website. (Password-protected critique groups are different; those are generally acceptable.)
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Martin Owton
Posted on Monday, December 19, 2005 - 05:05 am:   

Note that in January the cost of US postage is going up. You will need 90c stamps for a standard response letter.

Plenty of good information on US agents may be found at www.agentquery.com
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ET
Posted on Tuesday, December 20, 2005 - 12:28 pm:   

That's annoying. I still have quite a few 80c stamps. (I should submit more.)
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Martin Owton
Posted on Wednesday, December 21, 2005 - 05:51 am:   

You can get 10c stamps by the sheet from the USPS through their website
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ET
Posted on Thursday, December 22, 2005 - 03:51 pm:   

Yeah, I guess I could keep the leftover 10c stamps for the next time the price goes up...

Actually, I'll be in the US again next July. Considering the few submissions I make a year, and that I have several $1 stamps (and that some markets, like WotF, can respond by e-mail even if they receive just print subs), I could just buy a few 10c stamps then. Just have to remember.

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