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ellen
Posted on Saturday, September 27, 2003 - 09:33 am:   

Ok. Here is your opportunity to ask questions about editing and publishing short fiction and anthologies.

I'll try to respond (or get other editors to respond) to any legitimate questions.
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Jay Caselberg
Posted on Saturday, September 27, 2003 - 11:20 am:   

Hi, Ellen. I have a question, certainly. I put together what I believed was a perfectly acceptable pitch for an antho with some good names attached to it, had it looked over with professional input, but so far, everyone has passed. What is the magic formula that makes an anthology saleable.
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ellen
Posted on Saturday, September 27, 2003 - 12:01 pm:   

Hi Jay,

I don't think there are magic formulas for selling anything. (you didn't want to hear that, did you?)
Sometimes it just takes lots of time. Very few of my original anthologies have sold right off the bat. Sometimes timing just isn't right. What kind of feedback did you get from publishers? DId they like the idea and just didn't feel it would sell for them?

I've had three anthologies that I could never sell: Dangerous Women and Mothers From Hell both edited with Pat Cadigan. No one seemed to get the concept of DW in the 90s. Or they wanted only women in the antho (which we didn't want). We thought Mothers From Hell a great concept-everyone has a "mother from hell" story ...

And a non-theme horror anthology.

It took over two years just to sell The Dark and it went through a couple of different proposal variations during that time.
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Jay Caselberg
Posted on Saturday, September 27, 2003 - 01:46 pm:   

Actually, probably the most cogent pass was that it was too similar thematically to something else they'd done in the last couple of years. (Couldn't see it myself.)

If what you say about timing is true, then that brings another question. What happens about people you may have lined up for the antho in question, then a couple of years down the line, they're not able to do it?
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ellen
Posted on Saturday, September 27, 2003 - 02:04 pm:   

That happened to me when I first put together the proposal for The Dark, which was originally called something less edgy and more vague. I had contacted Richard Adams and Paul Theroux, both of whom said yes but by the time I sold the antho I didn't even bother to contact them--I figured they were longshots anyway.

You have to make it clear in your proposal that you can't "guarantee" that a writer who says she'll contribute will contribute. Sometimes, if the book is contracted for, you can work out a sliding scale deal for certain "names"--King, Koontz, Rice, Barker, and sometimes Straub. That if you get a story by any of them you get a couple of extra thousand (much of which, if not all, will probably go to paying that author).

I've had many writers who had hoped to write stories for specific anthologies for me over the years but didn't have the time, weren't inspired, whatever.
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Jonathan Strahan
Posted on Saturday, September 27, 2003 - 09:56 pm:   

Hey Jay

I don't know if this is relevant, but it took me about two years, from initially submitting the proposal to actually sell the Locus Awards anthology. This contrasted with the Year's Best Australian SF anthology, which was bought within two days of the proposal being submitted. It's a weird game. You just refine your proposal, work out what a publisher wants and then, hopefully, deliver.

J
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Jay Caselberg
Posted on Sunday, September 28, 2003 - 12:38 am:   

Hmm, thank you both. All very interesting.
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Mark Shiney
Posted on Sunday, September 28, 2003 - 08:10 am:   

Ellen, you've mentioned working with authors to make minor changes in stories that you've accepted. When talking to other editors, have you found them to be willing to make changes to stories that they want, or are they basically looking for stories that they don't have to tweak in any way before publishing?
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ellen
Posted on Sunday, September 28, 2003 - 09:25 am:   

Mark:I can't speak for other editors although I believe that Gordon and Gardner both work with authors on rewrites.

A bit more than half the time I'll work with an author on more than minor changes--we may go through a couple of rewrites. But usually if I know that will be the case I won't commit to buying the story until I believe the author and I can both come to a version that we're both happy with.

Then, before the story goes to copy edit, I'll give it one more careful line edit. I assume other short story editors line edit but don't know.
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Mark
Posted on Sunday, September 28, 2003 - 12:54 pm:   

Thanks.
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Matthew
Posted on Thursday, October 02, 2003 - 10:14 am:   

I don't think this will be an easy question, but do you know what kind of fiction you would like to see more of published? You know far future sf or humours fantasy or stories with green rabbits in them?
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ellen
Posted on Thursday, October 02, 2003 - 02:49 pm:   

Matthew,
No stories with green rabbits, please :-)
I would like to see stories under 12,000 words right now as I've got an abundance of stories over that length. Always looking for sf--near future or far future although I usually find far future less convincing, which to me is the basic problem with far future sf. It's extremely difficult to extrapolate convincingly more than 100 years in the future. Things move so quickly in the world that everything we experience today will likely be utterly unrecognizable in 500 years. (if the human race lasts that long).
Pardon my pessimism.
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Matthew
Posted on Friday, October 03, 2003 - 01:31 pm:   

I personally believe that we are in a spike of technological progress and things will slow down in fifty years, but I see your point. For this reason, I set far future stories I write on colony planets that have fallen into a more primative state.
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ellen
Posted on Friday, October 03, 2003 - 02:24 pm:   

Matthew,
Those would definitely be more convincing.
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Matthew
Posted on Friday, October 24, 2003 - 07:45 am:   

For you, what is the most annoying thing that a writer could do?
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Mark Shiney
Posted on Thursday, October 30, 2003 - 10:03 pm:   

Ellen, are you doing all of your own reading, or is Kelly Link still assisting you?
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John Klima
Posted on Friday, October 31, 2003 - 08:51 am:   

Kelly Link and Gavin Grant are now editing the Fantasy half of the Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, so I doubt that she's helping Ellen with the horror side of things anymore.

JK
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ellen
Posted on Monday, November 03, 2003 - 06:49 pm:   

Matthew: Write badly.

Mark: Do you mean SCIFICTION or YBFH? Kelly is my slush reader for SCIFICTION although she's taking a break for two months while she's on the other coast and Paul Witcover is taking over.

As far as YBFH, John is correct. Kelly is no longer doing any vetting for YBFH for me. Will Smith is checking out Analogs, EQMM, and AHMM, and some other mostly sf or other inappropriate items for me now.
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Mark Shiney
Posted on Monday, November 03, 2003 - 09:52 pm:   

Ellen, it was SCIFICTION that I was inquiring about. Just curious.
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Bob Urell
Posted on Tuesday, November 04, 2003 - 03:25 pm:   

Ellen: Paul's got great taste. That's a good match if I've ever heard of one.
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ellen
Posted on Wednesday, November 05, 2003 - 03:39 pm:   

Bob. Aside from being an excellent writer, Paul Witcover is also an excellent copy editor.
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Bob Urell
Posted on Wednesday, November 05, 2003 - 11:05 pm:   

And he's awful perty, too!
Yeah, Paul brings a lot to your table, or at least I think so. Not that Kelly Link was any slouch, of course. You've got good associate Karma, Ellen.
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La Cadigan
Posted on Thursday, November 06, 2003 - 03:22 am:   

Where do we post congratulations on the Award, Ellen?

:-)
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ellen
Posted on Thursday, November 06, 2003 - 01:46 pm:   

Bob, I had a string of bad luck with interns at OMNI for a while. But I have lucked out with my readers lately.

Hey Pat, you can do it here--I'll take 'em wherever they appear :-)

Thanks so much.
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sherry
Posted on Wednesday, November 12, 2003 - 12:53 pm:   

Ellen, do you keep records of how many new author stories you publish every year? Someone did the math for Asimov's and Analog sometime last year, and found that it runs about 3 per year for Mov's and 5 or 6 for Analog. A bit astronomical perhaps, given the number of submissions, but at least there's a possibility!
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ellen
Posted on Wednesday, November 12, 2003 - 02:25 pm:   

Sherry, I don't. But it certainly is easy enough to check. I assume you mean never published before professionally?
I know I rarely publish more than one or two stories a year by anyone never published before, although I've certainly published newer writers with maybe one or two sales under their belts.
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Richard Parks
Posted on Thursday, December 11, 2003 - 09:18 am:   

This isn't so much a question as a confession: I not only just sent you another ghost story, but I forgot to put it in Times Roman. Sometimes I think I have an editorial death wish.
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ellen
Posted on Thursday, December 11, 2003 - 06:47 pm:   

Bad boy! As long as it's readable I don't care that much. I think I remember receiving it. I'm currently up to October 20th in my ms reading.
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Charlie Finlay
Posted on Thursday, December 11, 2003 - 07:15 pm:   

Wait! "Times Roman"?
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ellen
Posted on Friday, December 12, 2003 - 08:36 am:   

Charlie, what do you use?
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jeff ford
Posted on Friday, December 12, 2003 - 08:44 am:   

I use this type that I don't think anybody else likes but me. I can't write a story without it -- Century Gothic, at 12 pt. all Bold. It's like text for old people with bad vision, which, now that I think about it, is pretty close to what I am.
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Charlie Finlay
Posted on Friday, December 12, 2003 - 08:50 am:   

Jeff, I'll keep that in mind for option B as I age.

Ellen, I use Courier, but it's so easy to change to Times Roman if I know an editor prefers that. Just a couple clicks on my end before I print. I'd rather my formatting be invisible so people can read the stories.
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Richard Parks
Posted on Friday, December 12, 2003 - 09:44 am:   

Just as datapoint, I use courier too (specifially, Dark Courier, which is easier on the eyes also). But I'd read elsewhere that Ellen preferred Times Roman, so that's what I intended to send.
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ktempest
Posted on Friday, December 12, 2003 - 04:09 pm:   

Wait.. really? You prefer TNR, Ellen? Maybe it's a lot easier to read on paper. i find that I can't on screen (when I slush) for more than 5 pages without a headache. i always convert to Courier.
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Celia Marsh
Posted on Friday, December 12, 2003 - 09:40 pm:   

According to the info that I'd collected last January, in 2001-2002, scifiction printed two new authors--Gavin Grant(2001) and Jason Wittman (2002). Last year there were two more new authors--MK Hogson and Greg Beatty.

Just a question though, Ellen--if you would prefer TNR to courier, how do you like word count calculated?
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ellen
Posted on Friday, December 12, 2003 - 09:58 pm:   

It's not as if I won't read a submission if it's in courier--I'm more concerned that it be in 12 pt type (certainly not smaller).

When I get the electronic version in about a third of the time they come in in courier--which seems more of a pain to read on the screen than in print. So I automatically convert it for my own editing purposes. Which means, often my page count and the author's doesn't match when we're going back and forth on the editing. Thank god for the search function in word :-)

As far as word count--it's still an estimate of about 6-8 words per line times the # of lines times the number of pages. The type determines how many words per line there are (about six characters count as a word).
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Sunday, January 11, 2004 - 01:56 pm:   

Ms. Datlow,

I was curious, does a point-of-view that shifts from one character to another weaken a story, in your opinion?
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Ellen
Posted on Sunday, January 11, 2004 - 05:36 pm:   

Mahesh,
That depends on the story. If it switches in mid page/mid-para/mid-sentence then yes.

If a story is told from a different pov from section to section not necessarily--in fact it could make the story stronger--think Rashomon in which the change in pov telling the same events indicate an unreliable narrator or narrators.

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Iron James
Posted on Sunday, January 11, 2004 - 05:47 pm:   

It's been my experience that most editors who read paper want Courier, and most who read on the screen want Times. Far more often than not, I've found this a good rule to follow. Though, personally, I find Courier easier to read even on screen. I won;t even try to read Times for more than a few pages. But it goes to show you need to know what an individual editor wants.
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Sunday, January 11, 2004 - 10:22 pm:   

Ms. Datlow,

Thanks for the help!

(As for fonts, I agree with Iron James. I've always used Times New Roman, but definitely use Courier if an editor specifies a nonproportional font.)
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Ellen
Posted on Monday, January 12, 2004 - 07:59 am:   

I prefer Times Roman on paper but as long as the type doesn't distract from the editor's reading of the ms it doesn't matter. Nothing smaller than 12 pt type.
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Monday, January 12, 2004 - 03:27 pm:   

Yeah, that'd be hard on the eyes.

Do people ever send you manuscripts with types lower than 12pt?
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Ellen
Posted on Tuesday, January 13, 2004 - 08:22 am:   

Occasionally I get one at 10 point. But much worse is when a ms is single spaced. That does NOT get read at all, but returned saying all submissions must be double-spaced.
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Bob Urell
Posted on Wednesday, January 14, 2004 - 03:00 am:   

Hi Ellen,
You prefer Times? I'll have to remember that....
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Tribeless
Posted on Saturday, January 31, 2004 - 02:46 am:   

Hi Ellen

After a break of many years, I am now making myself do structured writing; that is, given all of my other commitments, the guilt ridden luxury of sitting down and making myself write complete short stories, not just fragments (and an ever present diary).

When I was doing an Arts degree 18 or so years ago I had poetry published twice in my country's (New Zealand) leading literary magazine (not sci-fi) called 'Landfall'.

I've now finished one story, and have emailed it to 'Strange Horizons', plus I'm working on a second story which is shaping up pleasingly. My problem is I've been reading Strange Horizon's interview with Brandon Massey and he repeats what I read from a lot of other writers regarding how best for new writers to be published. Its easier for me simply to quote him:

"I encourage writers to start the traditional way -- submitting manuscripts to agents and editors, attending writers' conferences and networking with industry professionals."

And therein lies my problem. As I said, I'm from New Zealand, which is on the opposite side of the earth from, well, anywhere, really, plus has no market at all for speculative fiction. It is simply not possible for me to attend writers' conferences and go to workshops (which are also mentioned a lot). Ie, I can't effectively, physically, network. [Actually, even if I lived in the States I suspect attending workshops and conferences would not be on the agenda, as I suspect I'd hate it]. Similarly, I imagine an agent would not be interested in an unpublished author, plus from what I've read on the Net, finding an appropriate agent is fraught with difficulties in its own right.

Given this situation, I determined that my best hope was to submit short fiction to the US professional markets, Strange Horizons (first as they allow electronic submissions - remember me :-)), Sci-fi.com, Asimov's, F&SF, and Interzone, and try to make a name for myself which I could then use to peddle myself to a 'decent' agent or publisher. I've also been reading lately the truths, and probably many un-untruths, about 'slush piles' at these magazines. I even remember you writing somewhere that if a manuscript comes into Sci-fi.com from an unpublished author you pass it straight onto your assistant (or whatever title), and do not read it yourself.

Given this, and the fact that I have a very busy career (accountancy) that I should probably not let myself be this side tracked from (although I will always write, but the structured way I'm doing at the moment does involve a conscious time commitment of quite a higher order than I've been allowing while setting my career up) I would really appreciate a brutally honest answer to the question, am I simply wasting my time with my plan as outlined above?

Do many new writers get published who don't attend workshops, etc?

[Aside: you may remember me (Tribeless/Broke) from the niggle I put up somewhere else regarding not allowing electronic submissions - and yes, as you will see from my career, I'm not actually 'Broke', so I lied :-) But the hassle of international reply coupons, blah de blah de blah, just from the point of view of the time it takes up, pains me. But this aside forms no part of this post, so please ignore this bit as I know I'm flogging a dead horse].

PS: if you ever want to swap jobs just let me know. I'd rather like yours :-)

PPS: if you've already answered this question in this thread just refer me upwards - I just don't have time currently to read the whole thread (although with the length this post has ended up on I probably would have).

PPPS: Thank you kindly for your time on this matter.

PPPPS: in my day job I have to be logical and well orgaised. In my writing I am trying to be well organised.

In here I don't ...

Although you will no doubt by here be wishing I would.


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ellen
Posted on Saturday, January 31, 2004 - 07:58 am:   

Hi Tribeless,
I think in your case (being from New Zealand) the best way to get attention from agents and editors in the US is indeed to publish a few excellent stories in the US mags/zines/ anthologies. I have a good reader (as I think I mentioned, Kelly Link is my current reader) so presumably, if someone's submission is really good (or even not bad)--she will pass it on to me.
You certainly don't need to attend workshops or conventions to get attention for your short stories.

But you will have to invest in IRCS....
Btw, no deal. I've never wanted to be an accountant. I'm fine at simple math but that's about it. :-)
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Tribeless
Posted on Saturday, January 31, 2004 - 02:20 pm:   

Ahh. I'm not much good at math either ...

JOKING :-)

Thanks for the reassurance. I shall carry on the writing ... for now anyway.
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ET
Posted on Saturday, January 31, 2004 - 04:51 pm:   

> Do many new writers get published who don't attend workshops, etc?

I believe that the answer is "yes." Being in a similar situation to yours (I live in Israel) I haven't attented any workshop and still managed to get published (just one story for now, sadly -- I don't write much, and I got two personal rejections since then, but it's not the same as an acceptange). I did take advantage of resources available to me, such as Critters and a lot of websites with tips on writing. I believe that I wouldn't have gotten this far without Critters.

BTW, I've been to a small con in the US (Capclave) and I enjoyed it, so you might too.
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Thomas R
Posted on Tuesday, February 03, 2004 - 09:52 pm:   

Not exactly appropos, but I just realized something kind of embarrassing. All these years I've spelled your name Daltow and I guess it's actually Datlow correct? Don't know how I made that error so long without anyone noticing.
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Stacey Cochran
Posted on Sunday, March 21, 2004 - 08:14 pm:   

This is my first post here. Pretty cool!
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jaycaselberg
Posted on Monday, March 22, 2004 - 03:20 am:   

Ellen, re your post above: United States Postal Service has a site where you can order US stamps online and get them mailed to you. Much better than hassling around with IRCs. http://www.usps.com

Rates are 80c for the UK; not sure what they are for NZ.
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Ellen
Posted on Monday, March 22, 2004 - 08:58 am:   

Jay, of course you'r correct. Hadn't thought of that although I've just order UK stamps (Tolkien) directly from The UK postal service website :-)

It's 80 cents most anywhere in the world. Canada though, is 60 cents. Hmm. Not sure about Mexico although it might be the same as Canada.
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Sarah Hadley
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 02:00 pm:   

Hi there,

I'm currently re-working a story to submit to you, and I just have a couple quick questions.

1. This is really my key question. I like to write using a pseudonym (well, a partial pseudonym - a different last name). What is your policy regarding pseudonyms?

2. One story I have considered trying to submit to you was actually co-written, between myself and another fellow. I think it's a really great story, but I've been reticent to shop it around because I figured the dual-author process could be too complicated. Are there any special rules for sending something by more than one author? Does it become too complicated (thinking out payment, contacting people for revisions, etc, should it be accepted) when you take into account that I live in the United States, and he in Great Britain? We both check our email several times a week, at least, so it's not like we can't be contacted easily.

3. Do you have any problem with "odd" stories, i.e. Philip K. Dick-style surrealism?

Thanks very much in advance!

Sarah
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ellen
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 07:48 pm:   

Sarah,
If you want to use a pseudonym you can but it should be for a good reason (eg. your name is a nice one but if you'll get in trouble at work, etc then I can see changing it for publication).
Collaborations are not a problem. But one person has to sign the contract and one person has to get the money and split it with her/his partner.

I love odd stories but I can't judge without reading it.
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Jason D. Wittman
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 09:50 pm:   

Hi Ellen,

Quick question: a short time ago, you rejected a story of mine because it had characters based on established works of literature (this was the story set in an interplanetary empire populated by Poe characters). Is this just a personal preference on your part, or is that a bad idea in general?

Hope all is well.

Jason
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Tribeless
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 10:38 pm:   

ah ah ah [hands up hand up]ah ah Miss Datlow, 'cuse me please, Miss Datlow, question please:

You state on your site, under submission guidelines that "All italics must be shown by underlining".

mmmm. Does that mean I underline 'instead' of using italics, or do I underline yet leave as italics, if you see what I mean Miss?

:-)
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ellen
Posted on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 06:45 am:   

Hi Jason,
I think perhaps the story itself didn't work for me because that sort of thing just doesn't seem very credible. I of course DO buy stories that have famous people in them but to populate a whole planet of them is pretty far-fetched.

Just got back from Florida so scrambling.

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ellen
Posted on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 06:46 am:   

Hi Tribeless,
Yes, underline instead of italics. This is for editing and copy editing. Some typefaces make italics that are too subtle to see easily. When the story is coded we put the italics back in.
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Sarah Hadley
Posted on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 10:08 pm:   

Ms Datlow,

Thanks for responding. Sounds very fair. Actually my reasons for using a pseudonym are thus: I have an incredibly strange and rare last name, to the point where there's only about ten people with it in the eastern US and they're all my immediate family. We're all very private people and I'm worried when/if I start being published, and if I'm successful at it, they're going to be pestered and associated with me (which for many of them, would be offensive; I have several very religious relatives who frown down on science fiction). Hence, I use a false last name - the same one I use here on the internet. Delightful, I know, but hey.
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ellen
Posted on Wednesday, March 31, 2004 - 03:37 pm:   

Sarah, (please call me Ellen)
That makes sense. Sarah Hadley is a good one :-)
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Eric Marin
Posted on Wednesday, March 31, 2004 - 09:00 pm:   

Ellen,

I am an attorney in Austin, Texas who also publishes and edits a webzine of speculative fiction and poetry, Lone Star Stories. (Oh, and I write as well; my fiction has appeared in a few semi-pro markets so far.)

I have had an interest in the sf/f/h publishing industry since college, and I'm having a great time with my webzine. Someday, I would love to work with or for a professional market, and I was wondering if you have any suggestions for reaching such a goal. Thanks in advance!

Eric T. Marin
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ellen
Posted on Thursday, April 01, 2004 - 08:34 am:   

Eric,
Unfortunately, there aren't very many professional magazines/webzines paying salaries to their employees. There never were. Asimov's, Analog, SCIFICTION, F&SF (I'm assuming/hoping Gordon's supports him). And that may be it (since I don't know the finances of other magazines it's hard for me to say. I believe Shawna McCarthy gets paid a set fee per issue but not a full time salary that she and her family could live on. Some of the DNA stable may pay something to their employees but I again, I don't know if it's a real salary.

Book publishing is a liklier bet. The major large presses are in NYC. The small presses that are growing by leaps and bounds such as Cemetery Dance, Night Shade, and Subterranean may have employees but I don't know if any of them are full time. Same with Wildside Press.

I'm really not trying to discourage you. If someone else has more or better info, please share it with us.
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Eric Marin
Posted on Thursday, April 01, 2004 - 12:30 pm:   

Ellen,

Thank you very much for your thoughtful and informative response. I've always known it was difficult to find paying work in the publishing industry in general and the sf/f/h areas in particular, so I'm not really surprised. I'll just keep my eyes open and try to develop a network over time. Thank you again!

Eric
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Kate S.
Posted on Saturday, April 03, 2004 - 08:40 am:   

Ellen --
Question regarding SciFi.com guidelines. You indicate 2,000 words as the minimal length. Now, a really dumb question: how rigid is it, and what word count method do you use? Is it the paper count (average # of words/line)x(# of lines)? Word processor count? # of characters/6?

I have a story I'd like to submit, and it's 1,900 words according to MS Word, and 3,000 according to paper method. Normally, I'm not this obsessive about the word count, but this one is really close to the posted limit, and I wouldn't want to violate the guidelines.

Thank you for your time, and for this thread. It's a great resource.
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ellen
Posted on Saturday, April 03, 2004 - 11:15 am:   

I estimate. Word is not the way one counts because I don't belivee it counts spaces--which counts when you lay out text. So I'd count it as 1900. The thing is I just don't feel most stories under 2000 words are meaty enough. If you think your story is really really good then you can try me as it's close enough to the limit to not just throw it back out you :-)
But it's doubtful that I'd buy it.

You're welcome.

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Kate S.
Posted on Saturday, April 03, 2004 - 01:34 pm:   

Thanks! Your quick response is much appreciated.
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Adam Koci
Posted on Tuesday, April 06, 2004 - 12:08 pm:   

Ellen-

I recently submitted a story to scifiction and was wondering what happened, should it be accepted. Do you send an e-mail response or a letter. I know you'll want an electronic copy, but I wasn't sure if I should be checking the mail or my e-mail box.
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ellen
Posted on Tuesday, April 06, 2004 - 02:52 pm:   

Adam, if I accept it, you'll get an email from me. If I don't, you'll get a print letter. So both, I guess

;-)
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Rebecca Gold
Posted on Thursday, April 08, 2004 - 06:55 pm:   

Dear Ellen--

I submitted my story to scifiction a couple weeks ago. It's the first story I've ever submitted anywhere (aside from something perfectly horrible to MZB's Sword and Sorceress when I was 16 or so) so I wasn't sure whether or not it would be too pushy to put my email address on the manscript: hence, I refrained. Upon reading Adam's post, however, I am (gently) kicking myself. Oh, well. Thanks for keeping up with this board! I can only imagine the number of grateful writers who have benefitted from it, including me!

My question is more of a contemplative idea: I just graduated college, and I am currently looking for a job at a publishing company as some sort of editorial gopher. I know it's entirely arrogant to wonder if I could get a job at a publishing company *and* be a world-famous author, but there aren't any fines for dreaming. :-) I remember reading in your last edition of YBFH that you were leaving partially in order to devote more time to your own fiction. First off, how is that going, and second, have you run into any perceived conflict of interest issues with writing fiction and publishing fiction simultaneously (because one day, I want to be lucky enough to have a job just like yours!)

Thank you!!
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John Joseph Adams
Posted on Friday, April 09, 2004 - 06:31 am:   

Rebecca --

It's Terri Windling (the fantasy editor) that is leaving the YBFH to pursue her own writing. Ellen (the horror editor) is going to continue editing the book.

-JJA
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ellen
Posted on Friday, April 09, 2004 - 08:09 am:   

John, Thanks for the correction :-)

Rebecca,
I don't write at all. I edit. I edit SCIFICTION full time and edit anthologies on the side.
Most magazine editors in the field either have written and published or would like to.

Gardner Dozois is a full time editor who is also a brilliant writer. Fred Pohl, Ben Bova, Anthony Boucher, and others were editor and writers.

Anne Groell of Bantam has published novels.

It's more difficult to do if you're a book editor. On the other hand, you can work in publishing in a less energy intensive area (copy editing or copy writing) and write at the same time. Paul Witcover is our copy editor. Terry Bisson used to write copy for various publishers.

So it's not an arrogant question at all. It's just hard to balance the two (from what I've heard and seen).
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Chris Dodson
Posted on Saturday, April 24, 2004 - 01:10 am:   

Hi Ellen,

I'm interested in pitching a few anthologies to various publishers, but I have a problem. I have no prior publications and no experience working in the book industry (although I am familiar with some of the ins and outs.) Will it be at all possible to sell the book, or would I be wasting my time with the pitch? In other words, I'm basically just wondering if industry experience is a prerequisite for aspiring editors.

I also have a "chicken-or-the-egg" question. When making a pitch, do you already have the authors secured, or do you wait until the deal is done before contacting the authors you'd like to contribute?

Thanks!

Chris Dodson
Journal: The Passion of the Chris
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ellen
Posted on Saturday, April 24, 2004 - 09:38 am:   

Hi Chris,
To be honest, you don't have much of a chance of selling an anthology without any editing experience.
Editing an anthology entails more than just soliciting stories. If it's a reprint anthology it's a bit easier with regard to content because you have all of sf/f/h history to choose from to make up your theme and know that you've got a bunch of great stories. If publishing an all original anthology you've got to solicit then reject or accept and edit all the stories that come in.

If you have a terrific idea, you could approach writers you'd like to write for the anthology and if you get committments then take the list and your proposal to a publisher.

My first anthologies were OMNI compilations. It was only after my name was out there a bit that I could sell other anthologies-the first, Blood is Not Enough was half reprint and half original.
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Dan Henderson
Posted on Thursday, April 29, 2004 - 10:46 pm:   

Ellen,

When looking through manuscripts for SciFiction are you looking more towards stories that more towards the hard sciences (stem cell/genetics/physics/etc) or the soft sciences (psychology/scociology/etc)?
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Monday, May 17, 2004 - 04:02 pm:   

Hi Ellen,

I have a question about reprints. I have a story that was published by a very small-press magazine (circulation: 5 people) and was paid with a couple of contributor copies.

Would this story qualify as a reprint? I realize the answer may be obvious, but I just wanted to be absolutely sure.

Thanks for your help. :-)
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ellen
Posted on Monday, May 17, 2004 - 05:59 pm:   

I'm afraid that it is. But under those circumstances, some editors might be willing to reprint it (not I, though, sorry).
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Monday, May 17, 2004 - 08:59 pm:   

Thanks for the clarification, and no need to apologize. :-)
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Eben Malancuk
Posted on Tuesday, May 18, 2004 - 12:54 am:   

Hello Ellen,

I'd like to get a little clarification, if I could. What types of fantasy stories will you accept? The submission guidelines state that sci-fi and fantasy stories are accepted, and then further states no sword-and-sorcery is accepted. Maybe it's just me, but sword-and-sorcery is a rather broad classification in my opinion. Can you help me out with this? Can't quite wrap my head 'round it heh. Thanks! :D

Additional: I'm wondering what, in your opinion, would be the best way to get something published, having never submitted anything for consideration anywhere. Writing has been something of a hidden talent of mine that I haven't had much time for. Thanks in advance for your help :-)

T
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ellen
Posted on Tuesday, May 18, 2004 - 08:53 am:   

Really really good fantasy. (sorry, I couldn't help it). There are certain types of fantasy I'm not fond of, S&S is one of them--that's the elfy welfy/wizards and fighting type of fantasy. Also, not wild about historical fantasy.

I publish a lot of urban and contemporary fantasy.

Keep writing and keep submitting. Hone your craft and pay attention to rejections. If you get a form rejection, try harder. If you get a personal rejection, try to "hear" what the editor is saying.
Good luck.
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JeremyT
Posted on Tuesday, May 18, 2004 - 09:07 am:   

Eben,

The great thing about SciFiction is that you can read everything Ellen has bought for it for free. I highly recommend checking out the archives to see some of the best fiction published in the last few years. A good place to start might be with the award-nominated fiction, such as "The Potawatamie Giant" by Andy Duncan, which was not only nominated for a major award, but won it as well.

Just a few of the other recommended fantasy stories in the archives are: "Doctor Pretorius and the Lost Temple" by Paul McAuley, "Fairy Tale" by Gardner Dozois, and "Jailwise" by Lucius Shephard.

In my opinion, if you really want to write, you're going to have to make time for your own words, but you're also going to have to read the best of what the genre has to offer. Luckily, a decent-sized chunk of that is free online at SCIFICTION.
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ellen
Posted on Tuesday, May 18, 2004 - 09:55 am:   

Jeremy, thanks for the free ad :-)

To make it really easy, here is our archives page:

http://www.scifi.com/scifiction/archive.html
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JeremyT
Posted on Tuesday, May 18, 2004 - 09:57 am:   

Yeah, really, I should get a job writing ad copy or something. Don't think I could puff for a product I don't believe in though. :-)
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Jason D. Wittman
Posted on Wednesday, May 19, 2004 - 11:53 am:   

Hi Ellen,

Jason Wittman here. Question: Some months ago, I sent you a novelette that you rejected (among other reasons) because it was set in Nazi Germany, and you felt stories with that setting had been overdone (Gordon Van Gelder seconded that opinion, by the way). Since that time, I have completely rewritten the story. It's a lot shorter (10k, as opposed to 15k), and I have reset the story in WWII Stalingrad, though the basic story is generally the same. My question is, does this qualify as an entirely differently story? (And I'm sure you can see the implied question: can I submit it to you?)

Hope all is well at your end. Take care.

Jason
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Ellen
Posted on Thursday, May 20, 2004 - 09:25 am:   

Hi Jason,
Sure. I'll take another look.
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Jason D. Wittman
Posted on Friday, May 21, 2004 - 01:04 pm:   

Thanks much, Ellen. But I guess I was also putting it as a general question of ethics: at what point does a changed story become an entirely different story (at least as far as submitting is concerned)? I suppose it would be up to the individual editor. :-)

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ellen
Posted on Friday, May 21, 2004 - 09:06 pm:   

It's up to the author to use his/her own judgment.

I don't think it's an ethical question at all but a question of common sense.

Is the story different enough that you're not wasting the editor's time? That might depend on why the editor didn't buy the story in the first place. And that is (unfortunately) impossible to know unless the editor specifically said "if you do so and so I'd like to see the story again."
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Rob Darnell
Posted on Saturday, May 22, 2004 - 02:15 am:   

Ellen, I recently got a rejection from you, and I can't decide if its a formal rejection, or if it was personally typed by you - not that it says anything helpful, just informs me that you don't feel you can use the story for the website. I'm just wondering if that's what every rejected writer gets from you. Also, I thought you had an assistant, like Gordon has JJA. Is that so? Or does everything get read by you?
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ellen
Posted on Saturday, May 22, 2004 - 08:10 am:   

Rob, Kelly Link is my first reader for slush. That sounds like a form rejection although occasionally I'll write the same thing personally :-)

I don't have an assistant though so I open and sort all the submissions as they come in.
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Typhus
Posted on Saturday, May 29, 2004 - 03:51 pm:   

Ellen, I too have just received my first rejection from you. It looks pretty formish, so I imagine I too was just another floater on the slush pile. I'm guessing you didn't get to read it. Anyway, I've found new motivation after reading these boards and finding some good critiquing resources on the net. In an odd way, thanks for the form letter. It gives one a certain enthusiasm to see what is wrong with their work.
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Elizabeth
Posted on Saturday, May 29, 2004 - 05:09 pm:   

Hi, Typhus. I haven't been rejected by Ellen or her slush pile reader yet but then, I haven't submitted anything to SCIFI.COM. ;-)

Back in the days when GVG read his own slush, he rejected the very first short story I wrote specifically for submission. I didn't really know the markets, nor anything about writing other than I enjoyed it. I decided that I had better take myself seriously, joined a writer's workshop and have been busy reading, writing, submitting and critiquing stories ever since. I hope I am a better writer now and know the ins and outs of a good story as I prepare my first short story for submission since that fateful day I last sent one to F&SF.

But after reading the threads here and at F&SF, I realize that it is highly unlikely that either GVG or Ellen will buy a story from a new writer. Consider the number of manuscripts each get every year and the number of new writers who get published. The odds are very, extremely high that an unpublished writer will not sell a story to the big 6. (Or is it the big 5?) But like they say about the lottery, you can't win if you don't buy a ticket.

Does anyone know if it is harder (or less likely) for a new writer to break into the short fiction market or the novel market? Anyone with any stats or words of wisdom?
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Ellen
Posted on Saturday, May 29, 2004 - 09:37 pm:   

But it's not a lottery, izabeth. Winning lotteries take no skill. You have as good a chance to sell me a great story as any other writer--big name or no name.
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Rob Darnell
Posted on Saturday, May 29, 2004 - 11:59 pm:   

Ellen, how to do editors feel about writers workshops? I really don't have a lot of faith in them. I believe that as a writer, it is my job to work on my story, without any outside interference except for the editors', whom I think of as my boss. After JJA rejected the same story that you recently rejected, before I even thought of sending it to you, I considered putting it up at one of the workshops (Actually it was a workshop that JJA himself takes part of). I went so far as to sign up for the trial membership, and was about to put my story in when I thought, "Man, what am I doing? What if Ellen Datlow, or some other editor wants this? Wouldn't this hurt my chances of ever getting the story published?" And so instead of putting it on the workshop, I sent it to you, and I haven't been to the workshop since. Truthfully, I think I'm perfectly capable of doing my work on my own. I just have to keep trying to break into the pro magazines, and I'll succeed at some point.

By the way, I thought James Patrick Kelly's "The Best Christmas Ever" was truly amazing.
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Elizabeth
Posted on Sunday, May 30, 2004 - 08:00 am:   

Hi, Ellen. If you had a good story by an established writer and a good story by a no-name writer, and could only buy one, I suspect the pressure would be to buy the one from the established writer. I understand that an editor wants readers and readers are attracted by established names. They also have a track record at putting out good stories. That's why they get out of the slush pile. I agree that getting a story published is not a lottery, but like a lottery, if you don't play (submit) you won't win (get published).

Rob - I think that for a lot of new writers, a writer's workshop helps you see flaws in your own writing better than when you look at your work on your own. We get quite attached to our own words. It's hard to "murder" them. Can a writer's workshop help? I think so. But you still have to come up with the ideas and understand how to put a story together and do the rest of the hard work involved in writing, editing, submitting, etc.

Writing is a craft and an art. Most artists need some training to develop their talent. Why should writing be any different?
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Rajnar
Posted on Sunday, May 30, 2004 - 08:36 am:   

Elizabeth, I'm sure Ellen can answer your questions better then I can but I wanted to point out that, as an editor, she's in a unique position with respect to SciFiction. Since the stories are put out for free, she doesn't have to worry about gaining revenues from readers buying the stories. She can really focus exclusively on buying the tales she likes best irrespective of an author's track-record. The results of this freedom speak for themselves.


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Samantha Henderson
Posted on Sunday, May 30, 2004 - 11:05 am:   

Rob, although joining a workshop is a very personal descision and not everyone's cup of tea, you might want to reconsider. I have always been hesitant about joining such a group, but I felt I reached the stage where I needed a little input, and my productivity and, I believe, quality (and that of all the members of the group) has increased markedly as a result. Sometimes, by the nature of the profession, we work too much in isolation (and sometimes, I confess, isolation is just what we need -- again, it's personal). Two beneficial aspects of workshopping are 1) the pressure to produce increases output, and therefore inventory, and often, oddly, quality and 2) it's not always the comments you get on your own work that are valuable, but the process of having to write a well-reasoned critique of someone else's work. If their work has flaws they often mirror your own, and in articulating the weaknesses in another's story you can better recognize those weaknesses in your work.

It's certainly valid to regard your editor as your ultimate "boss," but few editors, especially pro-level, have the time to give you that in-depth
analysis that you might need to push your work to the next level.

I think the workshop I'm in works because it's small (limited to 10 members) and that we all are at the same basic level, craftmanship-wise. Two stories are put up for crit each week, and each member is obligated to crit at least one (but often does two), so the critiques don't get burdensome. We also challenge each other with words-of-the-week and personal challenges: participation in these is optional. Perhaps most valuably, we support each other in the craft.

If you are concerned about a story being 'published' by being posted to a group, that problem is easily solved by making access password only.

And remember you needn't submit all your work to a group -- just those pieces you need input on.

This is not to say that you must join a workshop to improve your craft, or even that it would benefit everybody, but as a sceptic myself, I'm glad I gave it a try.

Elizabeth -- you are correct when you say that "it is highly unlikely that either GVG or Ellen will buy a story from a new writer" -- but statistically it's highly unlikely they will buy from an established writer, either. I think the established writers have a better chance mostly because they are at a certain level of their craft that a new writer, given talent and drive, will eventually reach. Of course, name who can sell will always play a part. But I think the short story markets are remarkably open to new writers. My 1st submission to Strange Horizons (a pro market) was accepted, and I am utterly unknown -- they even were willing to work with me on a rewrite.

I have no stats but have a strong impression that it's much easier to break into the short story market as a new writer -- although if you have a good book getting a response from the novel market might be easier than you think.

You are very correct in your lottery analogy -- if you don't play you don't win.
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Rob Darnell
Posted on Sunday, May 30, 2004 - 11:31 am:   

Okay, I might reconsider, perhaps after all my stories written so far have been rejected by more than a handful of editors. So far I only have seven rejections, five from JJA, one from Ellen, and one from Sheila.

"It's certainly valid to regard your editor as your ultimate "boss," but few editors, especially pro-level, have the time to give you that in-depth analysis that you might need to push your work to the next level. "

True, but if they accept a story they might want a few changes before they roll it out.
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T Andrews
Posted on Sunday, May 30, 2004 - 02:18 pm:   

I would guess that one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences an editor can have is discovering a new writer.
Maybe I'm naive (I don't think so) but I think it's all about the story for many editors. That's the way it is for me as a reader, anyways ~ I don't actively seek out specific writers. Rather, I seek out specific editors who seem story-driven~ I let them bring the good stories to me. I'm lazy. hehe
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Elizabeth
Posted on Sunday, May 30, 2004 - 03:21 pm:   

I don't want anyone to think that I am cynical or jaded. I've only submitted one story so far. Give me time! ;-) But when I hear the size of the slush pile and the number of submissions that are purchased and the number who are from unpublished writers, sometimes I just about give up hope. I have read that editors want new writers, and I do know that it is the place to break into print. But still, from my perspective at the bottom, it seems like climbing Mt. Everest.
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Tribeless
Posted on Sunday, May 30, 2004 - 04:28 pm:   

Elizabeth: a lot of us are in the same boat. At some stage, you've got to just shut all that stuff out: supposedly you're writing because you 'need' to write, so ignore the editors, write what you want, then submit and keep submitting the stories you think are good to appropriate publications.

From a completely unpublished writer :-)
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Joseph Paul Haines
Posted on Sunday, May 30, 2004 - 07:12 pm:   

Hey everyone!

I couldn't stay out of this discussion. Every editor with whom I have spoken has said the same thing: "If it's a great story, and I can fit it in, and it meets the needs of the magazine, I'll buy it."

It's really that simple. The only difference between the name writers and those of us just starting out is that the turn-around time tends to be quicker for the established pros. Just remember, you're fighting to hit three marks here. One: The editor has to like the story. Two: It has to be the right kind of story for her magazine. Three: There has to be a place for it in her magazine. Right place; right time; to right editor.

Stories are abundant of a writer getting a rejection on a story and then selling it to the same editor at that magazine at a later date.

Rejections, once you've established an acceptable level of craft, usually have very little to do with the story itself.
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Melissa Mead
Posted on Sunday, May 30, 2004 - 07:44 pm:   

-Stories are abundant of a writer getting a rejection on a story and then selling it to the same editor at that magazine at a later date.-

I thought that resubmitting a story, unless the editor asks for a rewrite, was generally discouraged...?

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Joseph Paul Haines
Posted on Sunday, May 30, 2004 - 08:22 pm:   

Yes, Melissa, it generally is. But if enough time has passed--say at least a year--and there were indications that the editor liked the story in the first place there's really no harm done.

It's just the fact that sometimes there is simply no place to put the story at the current time.
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Joseph Paul Haines
Posted on Sunday, May 30, 2004 - 08:23 pm:   

Also, as one editor told me, "I can barely remember the stories I bought. How do you expect me to remember the stories I rejected?"

:-)
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ellen
Posted on Sunday, May 30, 2004 - 09:03 pm:   

Arghh. I posted in response to Rob (at least I thought I did) about workshops but it doesn't seem to have shown up. Oh well. Basically, workshops are for some writers and not for others. A workshop will not _make_ you a writer. It can help you hone your craft or it can hinder you by providing you with bad advice.

There are several different kinds of workshops. Peer group workshops of unpublished or barely published writers. If you don't know how to workshop each other this (IMO) can be harmful.

A CLarion type workshop can teach you the basics of good writing and it can provide a good networking system plus a system for further workshopping. Each day's workshop is monitored by someone from the Clarion admin (at least Clarion West, which is mostly my experience) and you have a different writer or editor workshopping and teaching each week for six weeks.

Then there's the professional workshops such as Sycamore Hill and Rio Hondo where a small group of pros have a week long retreat/workshop.

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ellen
Posted on Sunday, May 30, 2004 - 09:09 pm:   

Elizabeth, if I have two stories that I consider equally wonderful and one is by a well-known name and one is by an unkown, I'd likely buy both. If I had to make a choice I might decide to give the newcomer a break. In every magazine and anthology balance is crucial to the mix. Every editor I know is delighted to discover and publish talented new writers.

However....and this is a big however-- most stories by new writers are not as polished as those by professional writers. It takes time to hone one's craft. But believe me that when I read and published the first story by Ted Chiang in OMNI I was very happy.
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des
Posted on Monday, May 31, 2004 - 12:30 am:   

I do not know if this is relevant - but it is tangential and thought-provoking to some of the above posts, I hope.
Nemonymous~4 only allowed anonymous submissions up to and beyond the point of final rejection or acceptance. I had hundreds of submissions for it, and the 17 stories I accepted turned out to be by people I had read before in the various markets (except one - whom I had never heard of before). A high percentage of knowns-to-me, therefore, which is possibly due to me having been steeped in the Small Press since 1986. I do not know which big names (if any) I rejected!
des
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Typhus
Posted on Monday, May 31, 2004 - 09:21 am:   

So after reading a bit of these threads, part of my new mission is joining a workshop. I'm in a rural area, so I joined up with Critters.org and for the two days I've been on it, it is lots of fun and pretty interesting. It does feel a bit like blind leading blind as most are unpublished authors like myself, but it will be valuable to get some input. Better than nothing...
From reading the comments from editors and others, it looks as though it is very tough for a new writer to break in and get noticed from a statistical point of view (which is pretty valid because after all, we're mostly average :-) .) Sooo, my question is which publications on average publish the unknowns, yet are known publications. I.E. where do I go to get my first personalized rejections?
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ellen
Posted on Monday, May 31, 2004 - 10:12 am:   

Typhus,
If your submission is good enough to get past Kelly Link, my reading then you'll get a personalized rejection from me.

But since most beginning work is not of high enough quality for me or other of the pro magazine editors to publish, your best bet at getting published might be small press publications. However, rule of thumb for all writers is submit to the highest paying markets first, then work your way down. And don't wait for one story to make the rounds. Start another one as soon as you finish and mail at the first.
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Melissa Mead
Posted on Monday, May 31, 2004 - 11:22 am:   

Joseph Paul Haines-Thanks! I have a story, at least 50% rewritten, that I've wished I could resubmit to a market that has since changed slush readers. I figured that would be a major faux pas, but I guess it's not so unthinkable.
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Elizabeth
Posted on Monday, May 31, 2004 - 12:00 pm:   

Thanks, Ellen, for your response. It's heartening to know that editors value the work of new writers. The trick is to write a really good story and write it well enough to outshine the other several hundred stories in the slush pile. ;-)

Another question(s) since you are so generous with your responses: What do you think are the main elements of a "wonderful" story? What grabs you the most - a fabulous story or a unique voice? I'm sure you want both memorable form and content, but what, if anything, stands out the most when you find a story you want to buy?

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Typhus
Posted on Monday, May 31, 2004 - 01:32 pm:   

Ellen,
Thanks for the guidance. I've already sent my first submission off to other pastures to see what comes of it. The next major quest, of course, is the original one, to find that elusive whisper, that subtle brush on the cheek when walking in twilight, that qualtity thing. I've got to knock it down and keep it tied to my bedpost. Thanks very much for your posts, they have been a tremendous help to me, not only factually, but a good boost for the soul to know editors good professional people looking for a certain product and it is possible to produce it, you just have to know what to do and go about doing it right. As far as the rounds go, you'll be happy to know Scifi.com is where I want to get rejected first, every time. :p
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ellen
Posted on Monday, May 31, 2004 - 02:52 pm:   

Elizabeth,
You've answered your own question: a fabulous story with a unique voice. Memorable form and content.
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ellen
Posted on Monday, May 31, 2004 - 02:54 pm:   

Typhus,
Glad to hear that :-)Keep on sending 'em.
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John Urbancik
Posted on Sunday, June 20, 2004 - 07:30 pm:   

Ellen,

I've heard you're coming to Australia soon (I just moved there myself), for Clarion South. You talk a bit about workshops earlier, and say something like "they're good for learning basics." I *think* I'm beyond learning basics; but, as you've rejected a number of my stories but included a few in Honorable Mention lists in YBF&H, I wanted to ask if you think I would benefit from stretching my budget past breaking to try attending this.
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John Urbancik
Posted on Sunday, June 20, 2004 - 07:56 pm:   

Okay, I feel rather foolish about that last post. Let me ammend it:

I know I have lots to learn. There's no point when I'll be able to say I've learned it all. However, I'm trying to justify spending money I don't have (and taking time I probably don't have, either) to do something I rather want to do. So really, I don't have much of a question, I just need to figure out how to do this. And if I can't this year, there's always next...

Something like that.
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ellen
Posted on Monday, June 21, 2004 - 07:10 am:   

Hi John,
Yes, I am going to be at Clarion South next year. But I'm not sure you need a Clarion type workshop. You've published around (professionally, right?)

What might work for you is a peer workshop in the city you're living in. Where are you? I'm sure you've mentioned which city you were moving in but I forget. Wherever it is I'lll bet there are plenty of other writers there and if there isn't a regular workshop already in existence you could certainly start one.
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John Urbancik
Posted on Tuesday, June 22, 2004 - 05:47 pm:   

Some professional level publishing, nothing mass market yet.

I'm in Sydney now, and I love it, though it took till yesterday for me to get a printer. No more letter sized submissions for me, it's all A4 from here on out... {grin}

I'll look into the workshop thing. Thanks for the suggestion.
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ellen
Posted on Tuesday, June 22, 2004 - 08:28 pm:   

Oh no!!! If you can get the right sized paper, you can adjust the printer. I hate A4 paper. (I can't reuse it in MY printer)
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John Urbancik
Posted on Tuesday, June 22, 2004 - 09:37 pm:   

I haven't seen letter size paper anywhere here, though; it's not because of the printer that I've got to use A4. {sigh}

You could still use my submissions as scrap paper, and hand-write any notes and such you need to on them, for whatever you're working on. Would that help?
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Patrick Samphire
Posted on Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - 01:41 am:   

Now, Ellen, we all know that right size paper is A4. America remains entirely isolated in its use of the wrong size letter paper.

Seriously, it really is impossible to get letter-size outside the US. Steph and I sometimes bring a ream back from the US, but it goes quickly and then we're back to A4.
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ellen
Posted on Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - 07:58 am:   

John,
Don't worry about it. The recyled paper I use is for printing out copies of my rejection letters. And emails but I always have plenty.

Patrick I hadn't realized that I've been getting A4 paper from other places than the UK. Does that mean that all your file folders are also A4 size? And your filing cabinets???? Innnnnteresting.....

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Patrick Samphire
Posted on Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - 08:33 am:   

Yup. You've got it. We live in an A4 world. (Well, I'm sure there are places other than America where strange shapes and sizes of paper are standard, but A4 is really common. I think even Canada uses it, but I'm not totally sure on that one.) A4 has taken over the world, and you guys haven't even noticed yet... :-)
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ET
Posted on Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - 09:56 am:   

Yep, it's A4 here in Israel, too.
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ellen
Posted on Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - 10:01 am:   

Next mss I get from Canada, I'll check. I guess I haven't noticed because most submissions I get are still from the US.
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Robert Burke Richardson
Posted on Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - 10:17 am:   

^Nah, we're all about letter in Canada :-)
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Jeffrey J Lyons
Posted on Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - 12:02 pm:   

There are many markets out there to get your feet wet. So far in 2004 I have published 8 short stories and 4 book reviews - all in small regional presses and e-zines. 3 more of my stories have been accepted for publication in e-zines for July and September.

Certainly there are no riches to be made in this. Most of these publishers pay $0-$5 per story. But it certainly gives you some publishing credits and a little experience with editors and contracts. It also hones your writing skills.

Some people don't like to publish in the e-zines, partly because of the low pay - but also because there's a sort of unfounded feeling that getting published in an e-zine is somehow second rate. I know writers like to have something tangible to hold in their hands (like a copy of F&SF with their story in it). If you get over that feeling, you'll be very pleased with the kinds of responses you can get from online readers.

Check Engen's online market search for some ideas. Google -"Engen's"
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ellen
Posted on Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - 03:34 pm:   

Jeffrey, who are you responding to? Most writers and would be writers know (if they're checking this topic) that SCIFICTION pays well, and is first-rate.

So do other webzines. If it doesn't pay don't submit. It's the same as with a print magazine that doesn't pay. A publishing "credit" that pays nothing is not a publishing credit among professional editors. We've been around and around about writing for free on the HWA Bulletin boards and I think most members have come around.
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Jeffrey J Lyons
Posted on Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - 07:23 pm:   

I think I was responding to Elizabeth's comment from May 31, 2004. She seemed to be looking for ways to get into small presses and I was trying to offer a few ideas.

I neglected to point out that that these publishing credits won't get me into SFWA nor will they get me recognized by the larger markets. My mistake.

Many of these e-zines have bulletin boards like this one on which readers comment pro or con about your story. I find that feedback very helpful. Also it's nice to receive occasional e-mails from readers commenting about my stories.

I most definitely DID NOT want to give the impression that I was slighting SCIFICTION. I apologize profusely if you or anyone took my post that way. I know it's an excellent market. I have never submitted anything to you because I tend to write short-shorts or flash fiction (under 2,000 words) and you mentioned elsewhere that you felt that was too short.

I was pointing out that many e-zines do not pay much but it's one way to get a feel for the publishing experience (without going POD). I too have a good 100+ rejection slips to my credit over many years.

I'm new to the board (less than 1 week) although some of the other posters know me. I think they'd vouch for me by telling other members that I meant no harm. But I'm sorry if I rehashed some old worn out stuff.
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ellen
Posted on Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - 10:00 pm:   

Jeffrey,
That's ok. I was confused. Excuse me for being defensive. ;-)

If you DO write something longer, you should, of course, send it to me.

No harm.
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Tribeless
Posted on Thursday, June 24, 2004 - 01:13 pm:   

Is Strange Horizons considered a 'contender' vis a vis a place to be published?
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ellen
Posted on Thursday, June 24, 2004 - 03:08 pm:   

Sure. If they pay they're a good market. And some of their stories have made Year's best anthologies and been nominated for major awards...Is that what you mean?
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Joseph Paul Haines
Posted on Friday, June 25, 2004 - 08:26 am:   

Tribeless, one good way to check on a market's standing is to see if it's listed as a pro market with SFWA. To make their list the magazine must meet both circulation requirements and payment requirements (currently five cents per word).

And yes, both Scifiction and Strange Horizons are considered professional markets. Send your stories to the pro mags first. Don't be tempted by the quick turn-arounds or easier publication standards of the semi-pros (those that pay less than five cents per word) until you've exhausted all the pros.

I used to be pretty bad about that myself until recently. But I'm here to tell you, it gets old quick when you string together a series of sales to semi-pro markets without cracking into the pros. You begin to doubt your ability to get there, and that's not a good thing. If you're serious about your writing, shoot for the stars, not the asphalt in front of you. (Not to say that there aren't some good semi-pro magazines out there. ASIM and Ideomancer come to mind, along with Neverary (in spite of its low payment rates the fiction there is quite good)).

I've developed a submission strategy now, thanks to some great advice from Kris Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith. First you send to the highest paying markets (in the case of science fiction and fantasy it happens to be Ellen). After that, your list should follow payment/prestige/editor loyalty.

Don't send your stories to a magazine that doesn't pay. Just having a story published isn't sufficient reason to submit.

I call it the "Respect Myself as a Writer," submission philosophy. And now that I promised myself to follow it, Ellen gets everything I write first.

Oh, and one big thing: don't pre-edit for the editors. Don't decide that a story isn't right for a particular editor on your own. The stories are legion of sales being made to markets the writer didn't think would want his/her story.

After all, we writers tend to be the worst judge of our own work.
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ellen
Posted on Friday, June 25, 2004 - 09:53 am:   

JPH, Good advice to follow.

Btw, I'm up to April 26th in my non-slush reading (with one story from the 20th I haven't yet finished). And I apologize for being so far behind for anyone who has something in my pile.
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Lou Antonelli
Posted on Friday, June 25, 2004 - 12:46 pm:   

Apology accepted. Your eyeballs must be lopsided from all the reading.
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Melissa Mead
Posted on Friday, June 25, 2004 - 02:25 pm:   

Gee, I didn't think it was taking too long. In fact, I thought the RT had gotten shorter.

(Maybe my story just stunk. ;))
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Derryl Murphy
Posted on Friday, June 25, 2004 - 03:33 pm:   

Ellen, we Canadians only use onionskin paper, A4 format, but cut down the middle. We also type on both sides. Remember?

D
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ellen
Posted on Friday, June 25, 2004 - 09:14 pm:   

Lou,
Yeah. I'm also reading a novel ms right now, awaiting my feedback. And really need to get moving on YBFH #18. Arghhh!

Right Derryl. And you know what happens when you do that! ;-)
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Jason D. Wittman
Posted on Saturday, June 26, 2004 - 08:10 pm:   

Hi Ellen,

Jason Wittman here. Last month at WisCon, some fellow writers and I got together to brainstorm about how to save a certain SF writer's workshop (you shouldn't find it hard to guess which one). Someone made the suggestion that we publish an anthology of SF stories with the proceeds going toward the workshop. Someone else shot this idea down, saying that anthologies weren't very cost effective as a means of drumming up funds. But since you have experience with several anthologies, I was wondering if you had anything to say on this matter.

Take care,

Jason
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ellen
Posted on Saturday, June 26, 2004 - 09:16 pm:   

Jason,
I responded to this when you first asked the question. It's in the second topic of Ask the Editor as this thread got too long.
Cheers.
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E. N. Wilson
Posted on Monday, July 26, 2004 - 08:16 am:   

Hi Ellen,

I have a novel that includes quite a few e-mails, web pages, usenet posts, etc.

When I wrote it, I used a different font for all of the above. When I reformatted in MS form (using a single font), my critique group became confused when I switched from the narrative voice to one of the above.

For the sake of clarity, I don't see any alternative for submission to an editor except by using two different fonts. How damning is this going to be? If it completely ruins the chances of being accepted, do you have a suggestion?
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StephenB
Posted on Sunday, September 19, 2004 - 07:42 pm:   

Ellen: In another thread you mentioned that even though I'm young (23) and a beginning writer, to go ahead and submit to SciFiction. You've published a few first stories already. Thanks for the encouragement. I have a question (suprise). You seem to publish a broad range of fantastic literature, mostly SF oriented. I'm wondering if there are any types of fantastic literature you wouldn't publish? Or, if it's written well enough, or appeals to you well enough, does anything go? The title being SciFiction, do you prefer science fiction type stories?

thanks.:-)
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EDatlow
Posted on Sunday, September 19, 2004 - 08:27 pm:   

StephenB:
I, like every other editor I know, would prefer more great sf, but barring that I'll publish most fantastic literature that I really love. I don't like certain types, and a story of that type would have to be really really excellent to get past those biases:
I hate space opera
I don't like sword and sorcery
I'm not wild about high fantasy
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Tribeless
Posted on Sunday, September 19, 2004 - 09:06 pm:   

What is high fantasy?

Just an example of this genre will give it to me.
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StephenB
Posted on Sunday, September 19, 2004 - 09:31 pm:   

Thanks Ellen, that's what I wanted to know.

Tribless: Lord of the Rings, would be an example.
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EDatlow
Posted on Monday, September 20, 2004 - 03:09 pm:   

Tribeless: StephenB is correct. I loved LOTR but most fiction about elves and long quests are really not my cup of tea.
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Tribeless
Posted on Monday, September 20, 2004 - 07:14 pm:   

Thankyou. Ditto by the way. I've had enough Orcs to last a lifetime ... Good old close to the bone, sharp, cyberpunk or hard scifi (though not enough with political content) any day. I just can't get into stories/genres that are so far removed from 'my' life, as it fantasy. I also find they're normally weak on characterisation, which is vital for my enjoyment.

Actually, the final big battle scene on Jackson's Lord of The Rings (# 3) was filmed 20 minutes away from me. Guess that makes me famous ... No? Oh well.

Sorry, rambling ... (Back to work now). Oh, its a gorgeous sunny Spring day here, so eat your hearts out Northern Hemispherians :-)
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EDatlow
Posted on Tuesday, September 21, 2004 - 12:02 pm:   

Tribeless,
I've been finding myself running more sf with politican undercurrents recently. I guess it's election anxiety ;-)


So you live in NZ? I'm coming over to teach Clarion South (in Brisbane) this January and stopping in NZ for a few days. Since I don't drive, I'll likely be staying in and around Auckland.
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Tribeless
Posted on Tuesday, September 21, 2004 - 01:09 pm:   

Excellent you're coming to this part of the world ... but Auckland? Its just a big city like any other. I don't know how long you're here for, but try to get to the open spaces of the South Island ... Queenstown for example, and then if you're going through Geraldine :-)
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EDatlow
Posted on Tuesday, September 21, 2004 - 04:26 pm:   

Unfortunately, I only have about three days. Maybe I'll take a day trip out of Auckland.
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DaveE
Posted on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 06:29 am:   

Ellen,

FYI, The SCIFICTION BBS is spitting out SQL errors at me. Can't see any posts there.
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Patrick Samphire
Posted on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 06:39 am:   

O! Quick. SF story with political undertones coming right up for Ellen.

Just as soon as I can think of one.

Oh well.

Patrick
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Luke
Posted on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 07:19 am:   

. . .and I know you have a thing for Swanwick elves. Then again, so do I.

I have a quick question. What is it that allows Hugo nominated stories to be made available on the web? I know that each year someone compiles a list like this one:

http://is.rice.edu/~pound/hugo.html

I assume that it is something the publishers do of their own accord, figuring that it is a good way to get more votes and that award will sell more magazines or anthologies.

Or am I missing something?
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EDatlow
Posted on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 08:53 am:   

DaveE--They were like that last night and I'd assumed (silly me) that they would be fixed by theis morning. I've just alerted some people at the office.
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EDatlow
Posted on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 08:56 am:   

Luk-- yes the publishers (and authors) give permission.
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EDatlow
Posted on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 09:07 am:   

Excuse me, I meant "Luke"

Dave: the BBs are fixed now.
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EDatlow
Posted on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 09:11 am:   

PLEASE DO NOT POST IN THIS TOPIC ANY LONGER BUT INSTEAD TO ASK THE EDITOR 2--THIS ONE LOADS TOO SLOWLY--IT'S FULL FULL FULL.

Thanks.
A word from your sponsor :-)
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mario
Posted on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 09:19 pm:   

(hums a little tune) ...some-body's P-M-S-ing...
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datlow
Posted on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 09:56 pm:   

Uh no.
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StephenB
Posted on Wednesday, June 15, 2005 - 07:24 am:   

Hi Ellen. I have a question concerning a story I'm working on. In the story, I use a poem directly in the dialog. I think the poems over 200 years old. I'm just wondering if this is ok by copyright laws? Would I need to credit the poet at the end of the story? Thanks.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Wednesday, June 15, 2005 - 10:43 am:   

I suspect when they're that old, it's not a problem. If it's in English. If it's translated from another language then you'd have to check the copyright on the translation.
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StephenB
Posted on Wednesday, June 15, 2005 - 11:47 am:   

Ok, I'll go with it then, thanks.
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Laird
Posted on Tuesday, January 10, 2006 - 04:56 pm:   

Ellen:

I recently emailed you (re: JL's appreciation of Bulldozer). Did you receive it? I think something seriously funky is going on with my mail...

Best,

Laird
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Wednesday, January 11, 2006 - 12:13 pm:   

I assume you got my email responding to yours?
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Laird
Posted on Wednesday, January 11, 2006 - 04:00 pm:   

Yes--thanks!
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Wednesday, January 11, 2006 - 09:38 pm:   

Did you hear from Sean?
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Laird
Posted on Wednesday, January 11, 2006 - 09:54 pm:   

Not yet...
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Thursday, January 12, 2006 - 10:19 am:   

He says he has over 700 emails in his inbox. ;-)
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Laird
Posted on Thursday, January 12, 2006 - 04:53 pm:   

Yikes!

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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Thursday, January 12, 2006 - 05:16 pm:   

I know. He must not check his email regularly ;-)

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