A 2020 Wrap-Up from the Dream Foundry

Relevance is one of the four cornerstone values we laid for Dream Foundry, and 2020 has been a year that destroyed context so thoroughly that relevance was easy to lose.  As an organization that focuses on the speculative arts, engaging with what ifs and possibilities, however implausible, is at our core.  Dedication to relevance forces us to make sure we’re doing that, freshly and deliberately, with everything we do.  People always need information, support, guidance.  Resources.  Care.  That doesn’t change.  The details are where everything changes.

This year, the details changed a lot.

We aren’t even three years old yet, but 2020 could have turned us into a fossil.  We had a five year plan and a setup that said, “Hey, grow this way.”  In March we hit a pause button on the plan and started breaking down and reconceptualizing the setup.  March of 2020 did not have the same needs as January of 2020.  To remain relevant, to be absolutely true to our values, we had to let go of how we thought we were going about ourselves.  The forums are gone, long live the Discord.  Kickstarter no more, but welcome, Flights of Foundry.  The Official Media Exploration Club is still around, but thriving in the new setup very differently from its prospects under the old.  It’s been joined by watch parties, productivity pacts, an upcoming seminar series, cooking live streams, and more.  We have a community room available to the world, and if that isn’t the most big-tent, Dream Foundry dreaming big thing ever, I don’t know what is.  

Relevance, and jumping on the moment to make sure we embraced it, means we’re never going to unpause that five year plan.  It was meant to chart our way to being an organization with a thriving community who counts on us for support, with representation from across the industry and around the world.  We have more growing to do, roots to send deeper, foundations to build on.  But we have, more or less, reached the destination we were mapping our way to.  

A generous endowment for the Monu Bose Memorial prize in art means that all our contest winners received meaningful cash prizes this year.  Over 1,200 people came to Flights of Foundry, the madcap pandemic party of a convention put together in seven weeks and chock full of information and resources.  We’re publishing a lot of that content on our YouTube channel, something we never foresaw having until it was suddenly vitally important that we do.  We’ve published our processes and reached out to others to share what we’ve learned, helping everyone hit a level of professionalism and excellence that should and can be the fundamental norm across the industry.  We’ll do more of that, and will always be available for questions and inquiries along those lines.

My personal high point?  We paid our staff.  Not enough, not remotely enough, but they got a stipend.  Raising enough funds to guarantee I would get to do that was my favorite part of Flights of Foundry.  The kindness and generosity showered on us by people willing to volunteer their time is amazing and appreciated.  But volunteering is a gift, and we cannot remain relevant, or worthy, if we depend on gifts from the community we want to build and nurture.  Taking this step was important to me, and the fact that this year, where crisis has folded over crisis, is the one where we made it?  

I am so proud of what we’ve done.

What do you need?  What do you want?  What do you hope for?  These are the questions we’ve been asking from the beginning.  We’ll keep asking.  From one month to the next, or week to week, whatever 2021 demands of us.  So much was lost in 2020.  We’re determined to stay.  We’re determined to grow.

We have plans for next year, because of course we do.  Flights of Foundry is happening again, from April 16-18.  We have Goals and Planning support underway that will help you with accountability and planning throughout the year.  A market rubric, translator toolkits, cross-role mentoring, are all projects we’re working to bring off the backburner and make real.  The contests will happen again, and I haven’t told the coordinators yet, but I’m hoping to double the submission pool.  

We’re going to meet next year head on and ready.  

Thanks for dreaming with us.  We’ll see you next year.


Dream Foundry Contest 2020 Winners

Dream Foundry is delighted to announce the winners of our speculative short story contest and the sister contest for artists working in the speculative arts. These contests are designed to provide a boost to beginners in the field, with professional judges and significant cash prizes. We're pleased to have had 454 contestants, with entries from every inhabited continent. We're grateful to have been able to reach so many people across the globe. This year’s first place art prize is the Monu Bose Memorial Prize and is funded by a generous donation. In addition to cash prizes, all six winners will receive first pick of workshop seats at Flights of Foundry and showcase events at the online convention in April 2021.

Writing Contest

WINNERS
1. “Surat Dari Hantu” by Lisabelle Tay
2. “The Failed Dianas” by Monique Laban
3. “The Loneliness of Former Constellations” by P. H. Low

FINALISTS

  • Tehnuka Ilanko
  • Nick Thomas
  • Allison King
  • Julia Leef
  • Jennifer Bushroe
  • Finn McLellan
  • Rodrigo Assis Mesquita

Art Contest

WINNERS
1. Thaleia Demeter
2. Lauren Blake
3. Michaela Matthews

FINALISTS

  • Aya Sabry
  • Sam Hutt
  • Thaleia Demeter
  • Michaela Matthews
  • Lauren Blake

We would also like to extend our thanks to contest coordinators Vajra Chandrasekera, William Ledbetter, and Dante Luiz and also to our contest judges S.L. Huang, Neil Clarke, and Grace P. Fong. We are incredibly grateful for the gift of their expertise and time to help us uplift emerging voices in speculative writing and illustration.


End of Year Goal Setting

Last month's Free-Fall Challenge turned out to be a success! We hope that everyone who participated picked up something valuable from it, whether it be learning your limits and how to take breaks or how to find the right "get to work" headspace.

With the upcoming new year, we've decided to two communal goal setting and business planning events, for all your productivity New Year's Resolutions. We'll have two community events (one in December and one in January) to help you work through your 2021 goals. Our first guided meeting will be 19 December 2020 at 2PM CST here for two hours, unrecorded. Fill out the form to start thinking about your goals and sign up for check-ins and support from Dream Foundry.

Our second guided meeting will take place January 23rd from 2-4 PM CST.

Want some extra support? Join our Discord server for a community eager to give advice, keep each other accountable, or just general cheering on. Failure or success, the goals of these events is to help you figure out your workflow and capabilities without over-extending yourself. We want to encourage growth responsibly, with plenty of community support to help everyone along.


Dream Foundry's Free-Fall Challenge

Fall has arrived for those of us in the northern hemisphere and the second month of the global phenomena of using October and November as creative "make a thing" months. Here at the Dream Foundry, we brainstormed ideas on how to pull together an event to encompass creatives of all kinds, forming a community space to encourage attaining goals, fostering skills, and honing craft.

Starting November 1, the Dream Foundry presents The Free-Fall November Challenge: prepare to stretch your creative muscles, set goals, leap into new feats, and cheer each other on!

The goal of the challenge is to foster skills that will help you translate your current workflow into something sustainable as you learn your limits, expand your boundaries, build endurance, and how to work without burning yourself out. Build a plan! Set goals! Make a schedule! And cheer each other on! And if you don't succeed, that's okay too! In fact, failing is also a valuable learning experience and we're here to help guide you through it.

You're writing a novel this November? Or maybe a series of short stories? Awesome. This is for you. You're thinking of making a new interactive fiction game? Good! This is for you, too. Want to stretch your drawing practice or try a new medium for a month? This challenge is all yours. Want to translate a poem a day, or write the scripts for your next SFF podcast? Jump right in! Whatever your project is, if you’re dedicating the month to doing something bigger than you ever have before, the Free-Fall November challenge is for you.

We're running the challenge through our Discord server, complete with a whole new channel for co-working, tips, and encouragement.

How it works!

  • The Dream Foundry is providing space for co-working, accountability, and scheduling help. 
  • Come over to our Discord server and find the #free-fall-challenge channel. 
  • Let us know what your plans and goals are - and if you’re not sure how to set goals that are the right level of challenging, we’ll help you out! 
  • When you have your plan ready, you can sign-up here. If you want to join the official co-working sessions, you’ll need to sign up.  
  • You can also share your progress and join in on twitter with the hashtag #freefallchallenge.  
  • And if you stumble along the way? We’ll help you recover, with some cheerleading from the other folks working on their own challenges. 

Sign up here!

Preparations for your jump can start now! Drop in, get hyped, and prepare to make November a challenge that gives you life!

The official launch of our Free-Fall Challenge will take place here in our virtual co-working space November 1st. Details and invites will be sent to those who have signed up using our form. We look forward to seeing everyone there!


OMEC Returns!

Are you ready for six months of incisive, multi-media discussion? The OMEC is back and coming to an internet near you. The theme for this cycle is “vulnerability” and we’ve got six discussion leaders lined up and ready to guide us through all of the theme, craft, and mechanics talk you can stand. Check out the schedule below for the dates, leaders, and the works we will be examining.

 

Illustration, Rhea Ewing: April 13 - May 10

Podcasts, Christian Kelley-Madera: May 11 - June 14

Film/TV, TJ Berry: June 15 - July 12

Comics, Christopher Eric: July 13 - August 9

Prose, Edward A. Hall : August 10 - September 13

  • TBD

Games, N. Theodoridou: September 14 - October 11

  • TAKE by Katherine Morayati

 

Don’t feel like you have to wait to start on the OMEC fun. The discussion thread is up and ready for your thoughts, progress reports, and chat.

 


Inside the News

Publishing News for March 2020

The world changed quickly because of COVID-19.

People are scared. People are worried. People are losing their jobs. People are sick and dying. People don’t know what the future will bring.

But people are also pulling together and helping one another. People are social distancing but keeping each other in their lives. And this is true both for the larger world and the genre world.

Artists and authors are trying to help each other, as with the Society of Authors launching an emergency fund for writers. People are also creating websites such as COVID-19 Freelance Artist Resources, which features info on emergency funding and much more. Others are fundraising to help, such as with Ijeoma Oluo creating the Seattle Artist Relief Fund Amid COVID-19.

For many authors and writers, especially those who support themselves by freelancing, the economic fallout from COVID-19 is frightening. A lot of freelance work is being stopped or put on hold by businesses. In addition, books tours are being cancelled, as are other places where authors promote their work such as conventions. (Locus Magazine is keeping an updated listing of all genre convention cancellations and delays.)

But people are adapting the best they can. The 2020 Dell Magazines Award for Undergraduate Excellence in SF/F Writing was presented virtually, with Rona Wang reading her winning story through Zoom. Many authors are also taking their in-person visits virtual, such as with N.K. Jemisin’s upcoming April 3rd appearance at the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination.

SFWA is also partnering with r/Fantasy to “host their 1st ever virtual con with AMAs, giveaways, & more. Slots are available for April and May.” (For info on how to participate, go here.)

Others are also setting up virtual conventions, with Everywhere Book Fest for kidlit authors, books, and readers being among the first.

I wish I knew how all this would turn out. I wish I could say that people wouldn’t be hurt and devastated in the coming months. But I can’t do that.

What I can say is that during times like these people help each other. As we’re already seeing.

Thinkerbeat Just Ain’t Thinking Right

Thinkerbeat Reader is the submission system and community supporting Unreal and Unfit magazines. However, it turned out the editor behind these sites, Daniel Scott White, had been posting online the names and rankings of many of the magazines’ rejected authors.

Other issues have also been raised about the magazines, including Thinkerbeat Reader requiring a membership fee after the first three months (meaning authors may have to eventually pay to submit).

Many, many people called out the editor and magazines for doing this such as Benjamin Kinney in a very good post on his website. And some authors published or reprinted in the magazines, including Yoon Ha Lee, said they wouldn’t have published there if they’d known what the magazines were doing.

In response to this criticism, you’d think an editor would simply say “my bad,” apologize, and fix the issues. If White had done this the genre would likely have been pretty forgiving.

Instead, White doubled down, telling authors who complained that he was “being disruptive, sure, but that's what it takes to displace other magazines on the way up.” The editor also emailed some accepted authors and said “There's an angry mob on Twitter that is threatening to ban me at the SFWA” and proclaimed the magazines might “put a 'banned by the SFWA' sticker on my next cover. Should be our best selling one yet.”

As an FYI, SFWA doesn’t ban magazines and doesn’t even have the power to contemplate doing so.

For more on the responses from these magazines, see this thread by Diabolical Plots (who runs the respected Submission Grinder website).

Thinkerbeat eventually stopped publishing the ranking and title of stories but they still name rejected authors. Yet there is (note my sarcasm) good news because now the rejection earns you a "Thinkerbeat Award!" The site even urges rejected authors to put the award icon on their websites and social media pages. Sigh.

Other news and info

This thread by Marianne Kirby on how stories must have some hope in them, and how the “big narratives getting pushed on us by corporations are mostly about prolonging agony,” really touched a nerve with me. A must read.


Publishing News for January 2020

One of the great aspects of science fiction and fantasy is how so many people pay it forward and nurture the genre’s next generation of writers.

A prime example of this was award-winning author Vonda N. McIntyre, who sadly passed away in 2019. It has now been revealed that McIntyre “left her literary assets to Clarion West, expressing her wish that ‘the organization manage her literary copyrights in perpetuity.’ She also left a bequest of $387,129 to the program, the largest single financial gift in the organization’s history.”

In addition to winning the Nebula Award for her ground-breaking novel The Moon and the Sun, McIntyre helped rescue Clarion West in the 1980s when the workshop almost had to close.

I never met McIntyre in person but I spoke with her online a number of times and both loved and was inspired by her stories. When I mentioned to her my love for The Moon and the Sun she was kind enough to mail me an autographed copy.

She was always helping others and now, with this bequeath, she’ll help influence new generations of writers.

What a wonderful legacy.

#SFF2020: The State of Genre Magazines

For the last few months I’ve been working on #SFF2020: The State of Genre Magazines, a detailed look at science fiction and fantasy magazine publishing in this day and age. This report includes interviews with the editors and publishers of nine major SF/F magazines and includes a good bit of information and behind the scenes details which writers may find useful.

This report is available here and can also be downloaded in the following formats:

An Author’s Guide to Understanding BookScan

If you’re an author or aim to be one, you need to understand a strange force which can affect your writing career: Nielsen BookScan. BookScan tracks the sales of print books in the United States, relying on voluntary reporting of sales numbers by Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other booksellers.

Why does BookScan matter to authors? Because publishers and agents use these numbers to determinate your future potential as an author. If an author tries to land a new agent or publisher, the first thing these people will do is check that author’s BookScan numbers. Low reported sales numbers definitely hurt an author’s career.

Read more about why BookScan matters to authors.

Other News and Info


The Contests Have Closed: The Hunger and the Table

Hey, guess what? We did it! That’s a close on the submission window for Dream Foundry’s first art and writing contests. We had almost 400 submissions total, and our teams are selecting our fabulous finalists. This has been a great experience so far, and I’m looking forward to the results when they arrive.

While we wait, I want to share about why we ran this version of the contests this year. Although we announced the contest as a stretch goal for our Kickstarter, we didn’t wind up funding at that level. We ran the contests anyway. There are many reasons for that, but I’m going to focus on the one I think matters most.

Last November, when the leadership committee met to assess our progress and success so far and establish our goals and plans for 2019, one thing was clear: we were doing well. At that point we’d announced a vision with timelines and goals, we’d done all the hoop-jumping and logistical organizing required to be firmly and formally established, and we were about to launch our first program. About being the key word there. We’d done a lot, all of it important and necessary, but none of it was what we were for. And yet, we were rich in support, well wishes, and people volunteering their time and energy. We’d raised enough money to start strong, mostly because people were hungry for the dreams we were promising.

We looked at the numbers. And the offers. And the plans. There was an opportunity there. That hunger we were seeing? We let it inspire us to be ambitious, and that ambition has been rewarded. Three hundred and ninety-three submissions to a brand new contest from a fairly new organization. That, on its own, is a success. But that’s such a small part of what we’ve seen while we’ve done this.

First, there’s William Ledbetter, who, when asked, dove right in to not only share his experience with writing contest logistics and design, but to spearhead this effort. Then Sara Felix, who just as generously answered when Bill asked her to handle the art side. By the same turn, Rachel Quinlan and Charles Coleman Finlay stepped up when asked to judge. Lisa Rodgers didn’t even wait to be asked, and I’m hoping she enjoys being a judge because otherwise she might think twice before having lunch with me again. Our slush readers? Some volunteered for the job before Dream Foundry had a name or a timeline. That eagerness and enthusiasm, backed by commitment and action, is all over the industry. We jumped on it.

In the process, we found a different hunger.

“Is there an age limit?” youth asked, hungry in a world where there’s a shortage of opportunities for them to be taken seriously as professionals, or potential professionals, and not as children. Adults asked too, people who’ve been busy with lives and work or with careers that delayed their pursuit of their craft beyond the point where anybody says “beginner” and pictures them.

No. No age limit. Come to our table.

“Are there entry fees?” asked people who are used to an ecosystem that feeds on them, at best concentrating resources from many of them to a few, and at worst by actively picking their pockets.

No. No entry fees. Have a snack while you wait.

“Is there a prompt or a theme you have to follow?” asked those who’ve been taught that to pursue their own vision first they have to pay dues to somebody else’s.

No.

We had extra fliers, so I took them around to all the libraries where I am in Chicago. Libraries are great places, full of programs and opportunities to learn and read and practice. Chances to study and discuss. They’re good places to find beginners of all sorts, but especially the arts. It was a small adventure, a tiny side quest in life that would spread the word and let me pop into pockets of community and imagination I wouldn’t necessarily wander into otherwise. What did I find?

Hunger.

By and large, librarians care deeply about their patrons. They have a unique relationship to their needs and hopes, a special opportunity to influence the people they encounter in their professional lives for the better. They respond with a palpable enthusiasm when somebody shows up with fliers and says, “I work with an organization that’s running two contests for beginners. It’s free to enter, and there’s a cash prize. I’d like to make sure people know about it, if that’s okay?”

“No age limit, you said? Can I have two of those?”

Yes.

“Is it okay if they’ve never done anything like this before?”

Oh definitely, yes.

“Would it be all right to tell that art group that meets here about this?”

Yes. Here, take some bookmarks, too.

When I explain Dream Foundry to people, I present it like this: You know the old adage about the best way to build a movie theater? The one that says you find a good spot for a popcorn stand, then put up the marquee? The contest is our marquee. It’s the thing that lets people know we’re there, gets them excited, and prompts them to come in. The real value in us, though, is the popcorn. That’s the everything else. The community. The support. The content and discussions and model of who we are, what we should do, and what we can expect from our colleagues, peers, and ourselves. We’re the popcorn.

Because it feeds that hunger.

There will be finalists, and that will be fun. Then winners, and that will be exciting. It matters. It’s important. But it’s also the capstone on something that is already succeeding in its mission. Three hundred and ninety-three people showed up to our door.

Welcome. Come in. We’ve got room at the table and we’re serving dinner soon. There’s something for everyone, and a ton of popcorn.


Inside the News

Publishing News for September 2019

Market Analysis of DreamForge Magazine

DreamForge Magazine is a new science fiction and fantasy magazine which seeks “Positive stories demonstrating the triumph of the human spirit and the power of hope and humane values in overcoming the most daunting challenges.” 

In my most recent Genre Grapevine column, I wrote a market analysis of the magazine, focusing on the magazine's positive aspects for writers (pays 6 to 8 cents/word, has good contracts, publishes a nice print and e-book edition) while also raising concerns about other aspects of the magazine (possible connections with the Writers of the Future contest, editor publishes his own stories in magazine, and the tone of feedback in rejection letters).

Editor Scot Noel was nice enough to respond to all these points. In addition he discussed the magazine's very specific guidelines, including what he means by looking for stories about "the rule of law and liberty under the law.”

To read Noel’s response, go here.

Rights Grab by Canada's Largest SF/F Publisher

I've long been a fan of Hades Publications, the largest Canadian science fiction and fantasy publisher. In particular, I’ve read a number of books from their EDGE imprint along with many editions of the annual Tesseract anthology of Canadian SF/F.

However, after seeing a new contract from Hades Publications, I question why any author would publish with them.

The contract is for the anthology Fantastic Trains: An Anthology of Phantasmagorical Engines and Rail Riders, edited by Neil Enock, and was mailed to authors within the last few months. The contract asks for the “exclusive right to reproduce and/or publish (in book or other form, including electronic form, including audio form, including print on demand form)” the short stories contained in the anthology.

Note the norm for most short fiction magazine and anthology contracts is first English language serial rights throughout the World, or nonexclusive rights, or a combination of these.

Payment from Hades for giving up exclusive rights to your original short story? As the original guidelines state, only $50 to $150.

Now I understand some large, high-paying short fiction anthologies ask for exclusive rights. But when they do they usually only ask for exclusivity for a specific period of time. The author is then free to sell reprints of the story elsewhere. But the EDGE contract lists no end-date for this exclusive rights grab.

In addition, exclusive rights is not what this anthology’s submission guidelines originally asked for. As the Web Archive of the guidelines states, “Rights: for original fiction, first World English publication, with a two-month exclusive from publication date; for all, non-exclusive anthology rights; all other rights remain with the author.”

Which is far from what the new contract states.

But the exclusive rights issue may not be the worst thing in the EDGE contract. As EDGE publisher Brian Hades stated in the contract email sent to authors, “For the last year I've been working towards an agreement that will allow us to present our author's Works to an agency that will explore various options to develop, produce, promote and license derivative and conceptual properties based on the author's Work.”

Basically, Hades is talking about a derivative rights grab, allowing his press the rights to (per the contract) “film, live-action and animated motion pictures, television, live-action and animated television productions, video, radio, cinema, stage, games, animation, toys, merchandise, mixed reality (MR), augmented reality (AR), Virtual reality (VR), graphic novels, comic books, theme parks, casual gaming, console gaming, trading card, board, and physical games, live events, and all other uses of the Work.”

In return for giving all this up, authors would receive 50% of net receipts received by the publisher.

On a good note, this derivatives grab is contained in an addendum to the contract and Hades says authors don’t have to sign the addendum. But it still doesn’t belong in a contract for a short story anthology.

Authors should be very careful about signing EDGE’s new contract with these terms. 

Update on Dreamspinner Press

The financial hole that is Dreamspinner Press continues to deepen, as previously reported in this column. The publisher still hasn’t paid many authors and is now promising to “catch up” on what is owned.

Here’s the letter they sent to authors the other day, which implies that Dreamspinner owes $100,000 is unpaid royalties to authors. I mean, if they don’t owe at least that much why would the give an example of how they’d repay that amount? For more, see this Sept. 4 letter Dreamspinner also sent to authors.

Important to note that in a tweet on Sept. 6 author TJ Klune revealed he is owed $27,448 in royalties by Dreamspinner.

Weird Tales Update

The first issue of the new Weird Tales has been released and features an impressive author list, including Victor LaValle (one of my favorite authors), Josh Malerman, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Lisa Morton, Tori Eldridge and Jonathan Maberry. As previously reported in this column, the new Weird Tales aims to be aligned with Ann VanderMeer’s editorial vision when she ran the magazine from 2007 to 2012. Based on the authors and impressive production values, it appears they are doing just this.

In a recent Facebook post James Aquilone confirmed that he’s the magazine’s new managing editor while announcing Jonathan Maberry as the executive editor — which is err, slightly weird, since Maberry has one of his stories in the first issue, which isn’t common practice for magazine editors. But I suspect many readers will give them a pass for this because Mayberry’s name may draw people to the magazine.

That said, the issue is pricey, costing “$12.99, plus $4.99 shipping and handling within the USA.” I’ve yet to see any word on how the magazine is handling distribution or if it will be available in e-editions.

Other News and Info


Inside the News

Industry News, July 2019

Video Games

Steam/Ubuntu

Steam plans to drop support for Ubuntu, according to Pierre-Loup Griffais, which may impact many PC gamers who prefer Linux.

Publishing News for July 2019 by Jason Sanford

Mercedes Lackey’s Fantasy Quarterly Magazine

The recent Origins Game Fair saw the announcement of the pending launch of Mercedes Lackey’s Fantasy Quarterly Magazine, a brand-new genre digest magazine. The magazine will publish its first issue in late 2019 and, as the name indicates, will be quarterly. 

Lackey will be the editor with Jennifer Brozek and John Helfers serving as associate editors. There will be a Kickstarter for the magazine next month, but the Kickstarter is planned as a one-time deal to launch the magazine (meaning no repeated fundraising requests). The magazine will be pro-paying and will accept all genres of fantasy from epic/traditional/low to UF/horror/apocalyptic to steampunk and science fantasy. 

Unless I’m mistaken, this is the first launch of a new digest-sized genre magazine since the original print edition of Apex Magazine was launched in 2005. And with Apex and InterGalactic Medicine Show closing this year, I’m sure authors will appreciate another market for their stories.

I aim to publish an interview with the editors of the magazine in the near future.

True Fan Fandom Fail

Last month heard the return of the plaintive whine of “We’re the only true genre fans!” It started when Ulrika O’Brien wrote a rambling and angry essay in the fanzine Beam about John Scalzi “breaking the Hugos” and allowed in all the not-true-fans (you can read the fanzine here, but be aware it’s a PDF download). 

Scalzi shrugged it off, but others in the genre responded with various riffs on WTF? Kameron Hurley wrote an excellent thread where she notes "this obsession with John Scalzi as this prime example of all that's changing in SFF" is weird. She then makes a much-needed point that "I won't lie, when they write about this period in SFF fifty years from now and only talk about John Scalzi and not, like, NK Jemisin, Ann Leckie, Mary Robinette Kowal and like Nnedi Okorafor I'm gonna be super pissed. And that's not even touching on the next gen of superstars.”

For a deep dive into all this, check out File770’s coverage. And Jim Hines has a great summary of who is and isn’t a genre fan.

As an interesting side-note, Stephen M. Stirling tried saying Worldcon attendees are declining so who cares about the Hugos. But Rogers Cadenhead responded by pointing out that "There were 45,090 attendees over the last 10 years, an average of 4,509 that compares well to any other era of the past 50 years.”

More Financial Problems for Dreamspinner Press

As covered in an earlier column, Dreamspinner Press sent out a letter on May 8 which stated “Dreamspinner Press is not in overall financial crisis or in any danger of closing.” Obviously it's never a good thing when a publisher says those words.

The press has now released a new letter which states “We acknowledge Dreamspinner Press’s cash-flow challenge in finishing payments for 1Q2019 royalties and pending contractor invoices is causing a great deal of concern in the community. We’re continuing to make payments every day, albeit at a slower rate than we’d estimated.”

The letter linked above provides more details. 

RJ Scott takes Dreamspinner to task for all this, adding that authors are being "asked to waive monies owed in exchange for rights back to their work" and much more. As Scott states, “Everyone’s experience of DSP will be different depending on 1) the income you generate for them 2) if you are staff 3) whether you got a lawyer/agent involved.”

Despite all these problems Dreamspinner Press is still holding an open submission call. Authors should consider the publisher's current situation carefully before submitting.

Wattpad and Short Stories

One of my Patreon backers asked about posting short stories on Wattpad, which is an online community, platform and app for people to read and publish stories. I personally love Wattpad, and obviously I’m not the only one because Wattpad has billions of reads across countless stories and a number of authors who’ve used Wattpad to hit it big.

However, the authors who get the most readers on Wattpad tend me be writers of longer-form stories and novels. These works can be serialized on Wattpad, bringing readers back to these authors’ stories over and over. If I’m wrong please correct me, but I’ve yet to see any short stories gain major attention through Wattpad, as opposed to the success of a number of novels and longer serialized stories.

In some ways this is to be expected — after all, we see a similar dynamic in traditional publishing and self-publishing, where novel-length fiction is far more successful than short stories. 

This doesn’t mean it’s not worth publishing short stories on Wattpad. However, understand that publishing a short story there likely means you won’t reach as many readers as with novels and other types of longer-format stories. In addition, it means you can’t republish the story in short story markets where you might find more readers. This includes most genre magazines, almost all of which require first-publication rights. 

Other News and Info

TV & Movies

Disney and Georgia Legislation

Disney continues to express concerns about the new legislation enacted in Georgia, releasing a statement to Deadline that if Georgia’s heartbeat bill holds, the company may have to “reconsider” future productions in the state. What’s most interesting about this to me is that the company’s response, and the response of the other media giants, seem to stem from concerns and petitions by the “creatives” and “talent” that the companies work with. Aside from the possible political and economic ramifications, I have to wonder if this interactions may show a new way forward for those working in television/movies in terms of leveraging themselves to promote industry change.

Comics

Awards

The 2019 Eisner Award winners were announced at San Diego Comic-Con. The Eisner Awards, named for comics creator and graphic novelists Will Eisner, celebrate the works of artists and writers in a dozen categories. I know I’ll be checking out the web comics in particular.