Whither a space opera wilt not wither?
August 24, 2011 8:35 PM   Subscribe

What's the best venue to submit a politically tinged left-leaning science-fiction short story?

OK, I have a (very) short space opera/liberal political short story. If I want the widest audience (I have no illusions as to "making it" as a SF short-story writer), where should I send this .pdf?
posted by Slap*Happy to Writing & Language (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Where should I send this .pdf?

Nowhere. As an editor who reads submissions, I beg you not to send people a PDF. If you choose to disregard this advice, you will likely be rejected out of hand for failure to submit in an appropriate fashion. (Even if there aren't specific formats mentioned in the submission guidelines, I can almost guarantee you that no one wants PDFs.)

As to where you should send your .doc or .rtf file... Unless it's so political that the science fiction aspects aren't actually terribly relevant to the story, I'd submit it anywhere that you'd submit a non-political piece of similar length--Asimov's, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Analog, and Strange Horizons are probably the big ones, off the top of my head.
posted by MeghanC at 9:01 PM on August 24, 2011

Also, sorry, by "big ones", I meant "relatively popular magazines that publish short science fiction stories".

If you're not interested in magazine publication, I'd go the CreateSpace/SmashWords/PubIt! route. Doing so will give you an enormous potential audience but, without massive promotion on your part, a tiny actual audience. (Probably, anyhow. There's always that one in a million chance that you'll be the exception to the rule, but I wouldn't hold your breath.)
posted by MeghanC at 9:06 PM on August 24, 2011

Response by poster: Oh - kay - .doc, then. With everything in courier font, underlined for emphasis rather than italicized, and good christ, is this the same formatting Weird Tales was begging for in 2003?
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:08 PM on August 24, 2011

Response by poster: (I didn't have nuthin' to write in 2003. Pout.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:08 PM on August 24, 2011

Try Lightspeed Magazine.
posted by crackingdes at 9:10 PM on August 24, 2011

Use this for formatting guidelines. (Without the "Active Member, SFWA" part.) Copy it exactly and your submission will be perfectly professional, which helps. You could also try Clarkesworld Magazine.
posted by crackingdes at 9:15 PM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you're submitting electronically--which I think pretty much everyone does, now--it's unlikely that anyone will care what font you use, assuming that it's not, you know, Scriptina. But PDFs mean that you can't mark up a submission, and they can be a pain in the ass to transfer to different devices--I've currently got submissions on my work desktop, my home laptop, my tablet, and my phone. Being able to mess with the settings to make everything easily read counts for more than you'd expect.
posted by MeghanC at 9:38 PM on August 24, 2011

The widest audience might be somewhere which will put your story online. The paper-only science fiction magazines have a circulation measured in the low tens of thousands IIRC. But if your story is online, somewhere like BoingBoing or Metafilter could pick it up, which would probably hit that number pretty quickly.
posted by novalis_dt at 11:20 PM on August 24, 2011

Posting in on blogger and getting someone to post it to mefi would get you a larger audience, I'd wager.
posted by empath at 6:25 AM on August 25, 2011

.....I've just got to ask: What about people who, you know, write in LaTeX or some other format then Word?
posted by Canageek at 7:26 AM on August 25, 2011

@Canageek Never used it, but latex2rtf exists.
posted by hoyland at 9:14 AM on August 25, 2011

MeghanC is giving you good general advice, but also remember every market differs. You should always read the specific submissions guidelines for any market before submitting. Far and away the best place to find markets to submit to is Duotrope Digest.

Incidentally, I serve as the editor for an online SF magazine that pays pro rates and is currently open to submissions. The URL is in my profile.
posted by 256 at 9:24 AM on August 25, 2011

Canageek, my experience is that pretty much anywhere that accepts electronic submissions wants .doc or .rtf, and if you fail to send in that format, you'll get a letter saying "Sorry, submissions need to be in these formats. We'd love to read the submission, but it needs to be reformatted and resubmitted."

Which sounds really rude, but there are dozens of ways that files could be saved, and it's not really practical to support all of them. .Doc and .rtf are the most common and the most accessible, so it's what most people support.

The other part of this is that Word is the industry standard for electronic edits, and it's expected that you'll be running a program that is capable of reading Word's tracked changes and comments, as well as capable of tracking the changes that you make and comment responses. (I don't know if LaTeX is capable of this or not.) The editor will almost certainly be working in Word, and the onus is on the author to be compatible with the editor, not the other way around.

Also, 256 is, of course, exactly right about submission guidelines--my apologies for not stating that more clearly.
posted by MeghanC at 11:03 PM on August 25, 2011

I get that they can't support everything, but at least scientific journals don't normally rely on a proprietary format only fully supported by one company. Yikes.

LaTeX is a markup language used in scientific publishing and sometimes other places: it is a text file, but supports comments like a programming language. Typically you output to a PDF.

Anyway, sorry for derailing the thread, I'll go stew about an industry that uses word for a standard somewhere else.
posted by Canageek at 8:06 PM on August 26, 2011

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