Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Another Notch In My Lipstick Case

I was scrambling around frantically most of December and I missed this post by Ken Allen Wood about authors promoting magazines in which their work has appeared. (Mr. Wood is, by the way, the editor of Shock Totem, which was the first magazine I ever sold to, and currently has all its back issues available electronically for a mere 99 cents each or free through amazon prime.)

I've promoted Shock Totem a couple of times on the blog, in part because they keep letting me write little things for them, and in part because Ken is a really stand up guy who's kept in communication with me this whole time. He didn't just buy my first sale, but he clued me in on the opportunity that resulted in my second one. He also comes by and comments on the blog. He's just generally been someone who I feel has gone over and above, and that's the sort of thing I want to pay back. (I admit, I've also done it because Shock Totem has some of the most gorgeous cover illustrations in all of horror. I mean just look at it.)

I've promoted the magazine less in my personal social media spaces because I've kind of skittishly compartmentalized, and I'm not 100% sure I want my conservative christian relatives asking me about stories where people eat each other next Thanksgiving (though it's going to happen anyway, I think. My mother and father have been pimping this magazine pretty hard).

I guess I'm sort of torn on it. I feel a little strange promoting aggressively if it's something I'm published in; honestly, it's easier for me to tell you Shock Totem is something you should buy when it's not my particular issue, because that feels less like I'm just beating you over the head to pay attention to me. I've also got no problem pointing you at places I haven't been published but I like to read. And I know I gushed like a cat-ear-hat-wearing fangirl when Drabblecast said they'd take one of my stories, but I'd also gushed about them before that.

Ken's question is "are writers obligated to promote the places that publish them?" I guess I kind of fall in the general area of "no, not obligated, but unless the publication has actively dicked with you, it seems like the decent thing to do, whether they publish you or not". Magazines don't necessarily make a lot of money, and most of these guys are alive by the skin of their teeth. We writers and readers have a symbiotic relationship with magazines. The better they do, generally the better they're able to do by us. Sometimes that means buying a digital copy of Clarkesworld instead of a chai latte. Sometimes that just means that when you read a really good story, you point it out to everyone else you know who might like it. Yeah, magazines absolutely can't take either their writers or their readers for granted (or even their potential writers or readers), but that goes both ways. If you want the genre to be healthy, the best thing you can do is buy, give, and promote, especially if it's a magazine you think does it right. Pimp your favorite semi-pro zine and see if you can help it go pro. Help us build a thriving short fiction ecosystem.

Or at least that's how I feel about it. What do you guys think?

1 comment:

  1. Eh, Dude. If I got into Shock Totem, I would promo my ass off on their behalf.

    Of course... I DO promo my ass off for Shock Totem already because it's simply da bomb. :)

    But in general... Ideally, one would submit and be accepted by only shiny, awesome publications that you'd be proud to tell people about. And if you don't feel comfortable telling a few folks about the place where you just got published, well... you might have too low standards as to where you send your stories. :/