Friday 31 October 2014

Happy Halloween Haiku II

My poems 'At Mermaids Downfall' and 'Dolly Bone Dream' are published in Lester Simth's annual Halloween anthology from Popcorn Press. Also that Kelda girl's got a story in there.

Thursday 30 October 2014

Writing in a Game World: Interview at and Guest Post

You can read an interview with me at talking about 'They Cannot Scare Me With Their Empty Spaces', one of my stories set in the game world of The Dark Expanse.

And I talk more about the experience of writing in The Dark Expanse over at Milo Fowler's Blog. 

Saturday 25 October 2014

'Sibyl' and 'The Unmovable Sky' Published in Polish Translation

'The Unmoveable Sky'  has been published in Polish translation in SZORTAL. My first time in Polish.  From the look of the cover,  it looks like they also take drabbles.

edit: A day later and 'Sibyl' hits SZORTAL. 

Aunty Merkel Interviewed

Aunty Merkel gets interviewed at Pulp Literature, giving me a chance to share Mel Anastasiou's  lovely black and white images that accompanied my story in Issue Three. 

Pulp Literature is a professional paying venue, open to speculative fiction. They're currently kickstarting year two, if you'd like to check them out here's their campaign. 

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Empire of Dust: A Psi-Tech Novel Published by DAW

Have you ever day day-dreamed about getting an multiple book deal from a major publisher? Of having six agents fight over you? Of finally snagging the industry's top agent? Of getting a glowing review for your first novel in Publisher's Weekly?

Today, I invite Jacey Bedford onto my blog.  Jacey's novel Empire of Dust will be released on 4th November from DAW (Amazon UK, Amazon US pre-orders) and there are more books in the pipeline, no wonder Donald Maass were keen to represent her. 

I'm taking notes. It couldn't have happened to a better writer, or a nicer person (Jacey's always been a writer who pays it forward). 

Take it away, Jacey 

Trying to Stay Cool About the Book

The way it happened…

Wednesday 24th July 2013
Wednesday is Orange two-for-one cinema day with my cinebuddy and sometime band-mate, H. We go and see every science fiction and fantasy movie that we can find. Sometimes they are good. Sometimes… not so much. I can't even remember what we went to see on this particular Wednesday, but the experience of coming home to an email from Sheila Gilbert of DAW saying she was interested in the book I'd sent her a few months earlier was enough to drive all thoughts of movies out of my head. Sheila asked when she could phone me. It was six in the evening and I was just typing back to say I was in all day Thursday when I realised that it was still office hours in new York. So I emailed and said 'I'm back home now.' Almost before I'd hit send the phone rang.

And in an instant my life changed. Not only was I going to be published, but I was going to be published by DAW, an American science fiction and fantasy publisher which is part of the Penguin Group. A quick glance at my own book shelves reveals a high percentage of DAW books from Tanya Huff to C. J. Cherryh.

It would not be too much of a stretch to say that I've written all my life. I used to come home from school for lunch - at the age of six - and write a story before going back for the afternoon. I wrote my first novel when I was fifteen - well, six chapters, anyway - written out longhand and typed painfully on a borrowed Imperial 66, long before the days of auto-correct. It was a near future dystopia peopled with characters stolen from my favourite pop bands of the time. I've always favoured science fiction or fantasy. Whether it was blind ambition or ignorance of potential markets, I don't know, but I started writing novels, not short stories. In fact, I'd finished three novels before I wrote and sold my first short story in 1998.

So Sheila's offer for my novel 'Winterwood'--a historical fantasy--left me giddy with delight. So many writers try, and try, and try again, and are never lucky enough to land their manuscript on the right desk at the right time. When she asked me what else I'd got, I was over the moon. Good job I'd kept writing while I was searching for a publisher. She suggested I sent her two of my other finished novels (by that time I had seven) including my space opera, Empire of Dust.

Thursday 25th July 2013
At the time of the life-changing phone call I was between agents. I'd had two already. The first was long gone, and the second, whom I liked very much, had recently stepped sideways out of the agency game. Throughout May and June I'd been emailing prospective agents with varying degrees of success. Some had shown significant interest, but there hadn't yet been enough time for anything concrete to come out of the enquiries. Agents are busy and tend to take months, to wade through the submissions process. With a  deal on the table, however, I needed to resolve the agent issue quickly, so I emailed my top ten agent picks and sat back and waited.

Wednesday 1st August 2013
It didn't take long. I had six offers from agents on both sides of the Atlantic, each accompanied by a pre-arranged lengthy phone call. With much soul-searching, because there were two particularly brilliant offers that were very difficult to choose between, I went with my gut feeling and signed up with Amy Boggs of the Donald Maass Literary Agency. Amy's young and enthusiastic and she not only loves my book, but she's backed up by the might and experience of one on the biggest literary agencies in New York - and as a bonus they specialise in science fiction and fantasy.

So within a week of getting an offer for one book I had a new agent and shortly after that a publishing deal for three books. Sheila decided to start with the SF novel, Empire of Dust, a space opera. She asked me to write a sequel to that, Crossways, based on a one-page outline. And the third book out will be the first book that she acquired, Winterwood, a magic-pirate-adventure with a cross-dressing privateer captain, the jealous ghost of her dead husband and a wolf shape-changer (though please don't call him a werewolf or he'll get very upset).

Of course, that was only the beginning. Empire of Dust needed editing. Rather than cutting down I was very pleased that the editing process mostly included building up. I'd chopped out a lot of words to keep my first agent happy (the one that was long gone), but Sheila made suggestions that I was very happy to follow because it gave me the opportunity to restore things I'd taken out. I was lucky enough to get a face to face meeting with Sheila when we both attended World Fantasycon in Brighton in November, and she's a marvel to work with. She has great insight into character and world-building and under her careful guidance the book grew to 171,000 words.

Sheila commissioned Stephan Martiniere to do the cover and asked me to pick out a couple of potential scenes for Stephan to choose from, and to send visual details such as character and clothing descriptions, geography and equipment. And just like that, he nailed it. The cover is everything I could have hoped for, and more.

The last fifteen months have flown by. I've been editing one book and writing another from scratch, and now, at last, I have real honest-to-goodness books in my hot little hands. As I write this, the official publication day is just two weeks away, on 4th November 2014, but a box of promos arrived mid-October, and so did the first review. Publishers' Weekly said: " Bedford mixes romance and intrigue in this promising debut," and if that wasn't enough to put a smile on my face it finished with: "Bedford builds a taut story around the dangers of a new world.... Readers who crave high adventure and tense plots will enjoy this voyage into the future." Wow! I'll settle for that. I'm sure there will be stinkers as well (I've seen one star reviews on Amazon because the reviewer didn't like the colour of the envelope the book arrived in.) but the first one being positive means a lot.

Am I ready for the big day? I hope so.

Empire of Dust
Megacorporations, more powerful than any one planetary government, even that of Earth, race each other to gobble up resources across the galaxy, using as their agents the implant-enhanced psi-techs they have created. The psi-techs are bound to the megacorps, that is, if they want to retain their sanity.

Cara Carlinni, an implant enhanced telepath, goes on the run from Alphacorp when she uncovers corruption on a galaxy-wide scale. She thinks she has a breathing space, hiding out on a backwater space station. It's been almost a year, and her mind is still her own. But a ship arrives. Her past is catching up fast. Cara escapes with the help of straight-laced Ben Benjamin, a psi-tech Navigator for Alphacorp's biggest corporate rival. That's just the beginning, however. Betrayal follows betrayal as Cara and Ben are caught in a star-spanning manhunt, and if their enemies track them down, an entire colony planet could pay the ultimate price.

Jacey Bedford lives behind a keyboard in Pennine Yorkshire with her songwriter husband, Brian, and a long-haired black German Shepherd dog called Eska. She's had short stories published on both sides of the Atlantic and her first novel, Empire of Dust is out from DAW, part of the Penguin Group in the USA, in November. It's available via good bookshops and the usual online retailers.

She's one of the organisers of the Milford SF Writers' Conference in the UK which is where she met your blog-host Deborah Walker

Twitter @jaceybedford

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Sibyl Hits Her Fifth Reprint This Month

I'm pleased to see 'Sibyl' (first published in Nature) visiting Argentina with a translation by the writer Claudia De Bellan, and lovely artwork by Pedro Belushi. 


Writers, If you're interested in selling reprints you might want to check out my blog post here

Tuesday 14 October 2014

Life Can Be a Drag: Sibyl Published in Galician at Nova Fantasia

What a lovely and appropriate image for the Galician translation of my Nature's story 'Sibyl'.

Galician readers can read it here. Or you English readers might want to check out the original.

Sunday 12 October 2014

Shifting Goalposts: Are You Improving?

You know I said I sold 134 things in my first year. Well, it was a big fat lie. It was only 111. I mean, who sells 134 things? Sorry about that, I guess I was just trying to impress you all.

Anyhoo, that mean my next sale will break my record. C'mon editors.

It's a funny thing, really. It's all about shifting goalposts. I mean, one hopes one improves as time goes on. But there's no guarantee of that.

Do you ever worry that you're writing less good than what you was before?

Saturday 11 October 2014

Jade Moon Rabbit at Were Traveler

Three of my poems have been republished at Were Traveler. These poems have previously only been available in print, so it's great to have them online reaching a new audience.

'Jade Moon Rabbit',  'Shadow Whisperer at the Black Hole Hotel' by Kelda Crich (my other name) and  'Space Ninjas' are available to read.

I'm in the mood for more poetry. I'm seriously considering the November Poem a Day challenge, again this year. Any one else, considering it?

Thursday 9 October 2014

Squashed Tomatoes and Stew

I've just seen a call for The Tomato Anthology. I'm really tempted. Steampunk Tomatoes, Tomatoes in Space, Frankenstein Tomatoes.

I bet, if I were to start researching tomatoes, I'd find a lot of interesting facts. And if I could sell my bacon story, I can sell anything.

Tuesday 7 October 2014

'Sibyl' Published in Estonian

A second outing for my story 'Sibyl' this month. This time translated into Estonian and published at Algernon.

If you're a writer who'd like to get their short stories translated, check out Doug Smith's Foreign Market List. 

Two Reprints Published

A good week last week for me with two reprints published. Now, I think my regulars might have read these two. But for all you newbies, I present for your delight:

'Sibyl' published at Fantastic Stories of the Imagination 

'Drink Deep and Long the Circean Poison' published at Strange Constellations. 

Friday 3 October 2014

How to Sell a Lot of Short Story Reprints: Part 2

This is the second post on reprints. The first post can be found here. The take home message was more submissions will probably lead to more sales.

This post comes with the same privoso. Every writer is different. You mileage will vary. And if you disagree with me, do feel free to comment, because I'm interested in different opinions.

So after having made 67 reprint sales this year. (Yes, it's gone up from the last post). I thought I'd share my process with you. This is how I make my reprint sales, I hope you'll find it interesting.

Selecting a Reprint Venue

Once you've found your reprint venue, you've got to make a decision where to submit to first. I think about these things when I'm deciding (and probably some more, which I've forgot):

  • Pay* 
  • Speed* of editorial response
  • Acceptance rate*
  • Fit 
  • Reprint rights requested
  • Prestige 
  • Story illustration (I love, love, love someone illustrating my work)
  • Whether or not you've sold there before
* You can sort a Grinder search for these three criteria

On pay

Some writers feel strongly about pay. I don't mind what you do. I say do what you must to keep your writing life happy and motivated. I tend to like to get paid. Exceptions might be when it's for a charity anthology, or for a friend, or there's good art, or its a poem or micro work, or I feel like it.
It's your call.

But my pay for reprints has ranged from 0-7 cents per word or a set amount (f'instance $25 for any story length). 1 cent a word is what you might get paid if you get published in a anthology from a reputable publisher. Personally, I consider 3 cents and above to be a very good rate for reprints.

On fit

One criteria you will probably use, is your sense of how well your particular story will sell at a venue. If you've sold to that venue before, it means that the editor likes your work. So send them so more.
Otherwise, I can offer no help.
I'm particularly bad at judging whether or not my stories will sell. A fact that I find peculiar.
So I'll say this. Of course, send appropriate material to appropriate venues. Don't send high fantasy to a hard SF venue. But  don't self-reject.

If  I see a themed anthology that accepts reprints, I'll often spend some time looking through my list of available reprint and thinking really hard about what might fit. No kidding. It's not always immediately obvious. I've certainly made sales for stories that I've had to think hard about before deciding it fits the theme.

On rights

It's not unusual for a venue to state in their guidelines that they accept reprints but not to specify what kind of reprint rights they're looking for.
When you get the contract the venue might have asked for:

Exclusive reprint rights (meaning that you can't sell the reprint again for a determined time)
Non-exclusive reprint rights. (meaning you can sell the reprint again immediately).

I'm often not in a position to sell exclusive reprint rights, because I'll have sold these with the first sale (some venues take first rights and non-exclusive reprint rights so that they can produce a end of year anthology)

This has happened to me a few times. I've always written back to the editor, explained, and the contract has been amended in an amicable way.

How to Make a Reprint Sub

In the normal way. I prefer to write a very succinct cover letter. Don't forget to add when and where the story was first published and that you own reprint rights.

Submission Strategy Suggestions

Some things you might find useful. Mileage will vary for some of these.

  • Keep good records. I just keep lists in Word document, but other people like databases
  • Decide the number of reprint subs you want out,then never allow yourself to drop below that number.
  • Make reprint submissions frequently, so that you don't miss venues and so that you have to have a whole day subbing.
  • Do your writing first. Make subs when your brain is firing on a less creative setting. 

Here's one I made earlier: 'Sibyl' in Fantastic Stories of the Imagination 2014

Thursday 2 October 2014

How to Sell a Lot of Short Story Reprints: Part I

What's a reprint?

When you sell a short story to a venue you'll usually sell first rights with or without a exclusivity period. This means that once any exclusivity period is over, you're free to sell the story to another venue as a reprint. Between zero and 12 months are common exclusivity periods.

Occasionally a venue will ask for all rights. That means you won't be able to resell your story as a reprint. That's your call. But remember that you can negotiate. I know of one short story publisher who requests to buy all rights as as standard, but who will immediately offer a first rights contract if the writer queries.

Once the period of exclusivity is over, you're free to sell your story again. Now the fun begins.

How to Sell Reprints: What do I do?

I used to think that reprints were a hard sell. I'd send out an occasional reprint submission, get rejected and wait a few months before I sent another. But this year I've made 64 reprint sales.That's about double the amount of original stories I've sold.

These two blog posts discuss how I make reprint sales. Every writer's different. But I hope you find it interesting to read a jobbing writer's process.
So, how do I do it? I make a lot of reprint submissions. That's the take home message. More submissions means, for me, more acceptances.

Following a submission challenge from writing group I've upped my number of subs this year. At any one time I've got out 40-50 original stories on sub and 40-50 reprints.

You know that every writer is different, right? I'm prolific. I have a big bag of stories to offer as reprints. But if you have less stories, fret not. There are still things you could do, particularly sending to non-English subs where you can send the same reprint to more than one market. I'll do a case study in part II.

You can't sell if you don't sub, except when you:

Sell without Subbing

  • Editor request: Sometimes editors will contact me and ask for a reprint. For pity's sake make sure you have contact information on your blog so that an editor can contact you. (I speak from experience here) A bibliography with links is nice, too.  
  • Count everything. Sometimes I'll sell a story and the venue will request non-exclusive anthology rights. I always count these. That's your call. It motivates me to tally up the number of sales. 

What kind of story sells as a reprint?

  • I don't know. I only know what I've sold. That's: science fiction, horror and fantasy short stories and poems, drabbles and tweets, stories at flash length <1000 words, and at short story length (in my case 1-5K)
  • Test assumptions. I recently heard a writer say: 'Reprint flash is an extremely hard sell." And I thought: Not really. Most of my reprints sales have been flash.
  • Once I've found a story that sells at reprint, I tend to send it out again. My story 'Unmovable Sky' f'instance has been sold around half a dozen times (podcast, English language and non-English language venues, science fiction and literary venues, sold as part of a gallery show). The fact that I've sold it as a reprint before doesn't seem to stop it selling again #nojinx

Finding Reprint Venues 

  • Submission Grinder is my first port of call. You can search by reprint markets. A search on SF reprint paying token rate and above gives me 44 results. But I'd also suggest that you:
  • Check guidelines. Sometimes the information on reprints is incorrect on Grinder, or has been supplemented, or has changed. If I find incorrect information, I'll drop Grinder a note.
  • Sometimes Grinder states that a venue doesn't take reprints because the venues guidelines don't mention them. In which case I'll drop the editor a polite e-mail and ask. Then I'll drop Grinder a note.  
  • Consider also going outside your genre. I've sold genre fiction sales to literary and to general reprint venues.
  • Consider podcasts.
  • Doug Smith's Foreign Market List. A resource for non-English venue markets who will translate and publish your story. Because you are offering different language rights, you can send the same story to many different venues.
  • Keep your ears open. If I hear about a reprint sale, I'll often go to the venue and check it out. 
  • Reach out to editors. If you know of an anthology that's perhaps invite only, you might like to contact the editor and ask if you can send them something. I've done this a few times, with reasonable success. I ought to do it more.
Here's one I made earlier: 'Drink Deep and Long the Circean Poison' in Strange Constellations 2014

In Part II, I'll talk about how to select a venue, pay, rights and subbing strategies.