What do certain magazines want?


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Post August 03, 2017, 09:22:23 AM

What do certain magazines want?

Does anyone know a resource that provides insights into the preferences of other venues... especially paid venues? How can I know, for example, that XYZ magazine likes stories about "technology gone awry" but hates character names with all consonants?

The submission guidelines for all magazines usually start off with "Read our magazine to get an idea of what we publish". That's a nice thought, but highly impractical.

I'm especially interested in magazines that publish hard science fiction and shy away from fantasy.
Thank you
Glenn Diamond
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Post August 03, 2017, 01:52:33 PM

Re: What do certain magazines want?

Well, it may seem impractical to read the magazine, but that really is the best way to find out what kind of content they favor. Same as if you've heard about some new author who's getting popular, go find one of their books and read it. Sometimes you can get enough of a feel for it by just reading the "Look Inside" pages on Amazon.

You don't have to read a year's worth of issues to get the feel for a magazine's content; one or two issues should do it. You can pick up important little cues about the editorial tastes by looking carefully: for example, F&SF likes a sense of humor (leaning toward puns)--they even have a periodic contest which draws (and rewards) humorous responses. They also insert a fake ad into their own classifieds listing each month, referring to a story in that issue. That makes a fun little diversion.

As well, the submission guidelines sometimes include hints: F&SF has said that they don't get as many SF subs as they'd like. Beyond that, it would actually be counterproductive of them to specify details of the content that they find acceptable; they can only limit genre, and can't even actually define it very narrowly. The quality of the writing counts most, but beyond that, I think that if you get a submission past their slush-pile, they'll make suggestions for changes.

Since you mention hard SF, the best-known venue for that is Analog. I used to be a subscriber, but switched to Asimov's because (apparently associated with the recent editorial change) the quality of writing has gone down--a lot. The stories do mostly focus on hard SF, but now read more like they're coming from scientists who don't know how to write good fiction.

As to a single resource, there's probably one out there, but I don't know of it. I suspect that would be a difficult project; lots of little publications pop up and then die after a few issues.

Writing is a lot like work; if you can think of some shortcut, it won't likely save you any effort overall. Worse, it could cause you even more work, and maybe someone's ill will.

Good luck.
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Post August 03, 2017, 03:55:31 PM

Re: What do certain magazines want?

Thanks Lester,
Sigh... Have already been rejected more than once by the ones you mentioned plus others. Yes I agree I need to read 1 or 2 issues. Have done it a few times but it gets tedious (and potentially expensive) and you just want to "cut to the chase" and submit your work to the closest match. In other words, we're writers, so we';re tempted to focus on writing, not reading....

Maybe there's a business opportunity here! Create a subscription service where you provide this info....

Thanks again,
Glenn
Glenn Diamond
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Post August 05, 2017, 04:02:02 PM

Re: What do certain magazines want?

gmdiamond wrote:Thanks Lester,
Sigh... Have already been rejected more than once by the ones you mentioned plus others. Yes I agree I need to read 1 or 2 issues. Have done it a few times but it gets tedious (and potentially expensive) and you just want to "cut to the chase" and submit your work to the closest match. In other words, we're writers, so we';re tempted to focus on writing, not reading....


Well, someone (probably a LOT of someones) said that you can't be a good writer without being a good reader.

And yeah, the reject slips ... remember that slush-pile I mentioned? There are hundreds of people competing with you for editors' attention. One of the surest ways to NOT get your manuscript instantly round-filed is to make sure *every* detail is perfect: spelling, punctuation, formatting, cover letter--if your envelope (or e-sub) is addressed to the wrong editor or if you've misspelled their name, you're out; nobody there will read a single word of it. That typo you've made above--you're gone.

Once you can do that, work on immersion. Your goal with paying publications is to get past the slush-pile. Immersion means that the person filtering the slush-pile will either read your story all the way through or get a few pages in and pass it up the line. Learn all about that here:

http://creativityhacker.ca/

Scroll down and look at the right-hand sidebar; you'll see a couple articles about breaking reader immersion. Read those and then go read some of the Immerse-Or-Die reports. Some of the infractions they cite are a bit extreme, but you can get a good feel for just how picky readers (and not just editors, but everyone) can be. You may get the idea that it's impossible to satisfy *anyone.* Don't let that discourage you; just be aware.

Maybe there's a business opportunity here! Create a subscription service where you provide this info....

Thanks again,
Glenn

Some magazines will sell you a small number of assorted back-issues for a few bucks. F&SF is offering 6 for $12.

Hope this helps,

LC
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Post February 24, 2018, 02:12:36 PM

Re: What do certain magazines want?

I glanced at this, and the editorial reviews of the front of the Year's Best Science Fiction listed most of the significant print magazines in the field.

Maybe that will also help!

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