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Q and A
Hello Stacey, I was reading through volume nineteen of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror and came across your story (which I liked very much). Then I read that you live in Tucson and was ecstatic. I, too, live in Tucson (across from the University, though I attend Pima: Western Humanities, Literature), am a writer, and somehow it comforted me to know that another in the vicinity was toiling in the same field as I -- and succeeding. I really like your interview in Fringe, and totally agre that the contributions and accomplishments of the women of letters are underappreciated. Anyway, as to my question: After five years of rejection, my pieces are finally starting to get accepted for publication. But I am quite new to the business end, and am not represented. Editors keep asking questions like what type of rights I am offering, and some seem to pay while others do not. I'm not too concerned about the whole money thing, but neither do I plan on giving my stories away all the time. Any advice?
Hi Aaron French, it's so bold of you to put down your full name! I, too, live across from the University. In fact I kind of live in the University, or at least in the University crime belt. Congratulations on getting your pieces published! The business end isn't really that complicated. The rights that almost every magazine wants to buy are the first North American serial rights (or just first serial rights), which means that the piece has never been published anywhere before, in any form, and that means on your blog too. What magazines generally buy is the exclusive right to publish something first, and then the rights revert to you and you can publish the piece later in a book or an anthology. Or, and this generally only applies to magazine articles, you can publish the exact same article a second time in another market (second serial rights). This rarely happens with fiction though. If you want a good overview of how rights work, check out a book about writing magazine articles. That should cover every possible scenario. A recent book might have more info about web publishing.
As for getting paid, most literary magazines don't pay very much. They generally have a standard fee (which is sometimes based on length) and won't give you more, and plenty don't pay anything at all. That's just one of the many reasons why writing is a sucky occupation that at times can feel like a hobby and therefore make you feel like a freakin' loser. Real magazines like the New Yorker pay more though they vary their pay according to how well-known you are, and probably will never publish anything that isn't submitted by an agent (and will probably just never publish anything you've written, ever...at least that's been my experience).
So...I guess what I'm saying is that you might need to plan to give your stories away a lot of the time. Rest assured, the magazine isn't making a lot of money off of you either. You can get paid more when you publish a book. However, you probably will not be paid much for a book of short stories. "Not much" means you might make more working for a year at Office Max. Novels are considered to have more commercial potential.
Thanks for your thoughtful--and prompt--reply. The business of maintaining essences, is good, no?
Well, no, not in my opinion. Everything is always changing, which makes the business of maintaining essences sad and desperate and doomed. Like Priscilla Presley, croutons in airtight packages are trying to hold onto something they can no longer be. And, in my experience, they're unpleasant to eat, either exploding into dust or shearing into mouth-cutting shards. These preserved relics are a far cry from the small cube of toasted or lightly fried bread that comprises the ideal salad topping.
How do you go about acquiring a map to buried treasure?
Go to thrift stores and check inside the boxes of Buns of Steel workout tapes from the early nineties.
Why do croutons come in airtight packages?
To protect their inherent crunchiness.
Yeah, I, too, noticed similar patterns in the "Q and A" section of your site.
Yes. But that's not a question.
hey there, I heard medium, medium's "so hungry,so angry." I now realize it's a song from the 'high-school years." -James
I remember it! But only after I went on iTunes and played a bit. That's a good song. I like the feeling of my neural pathways re-opening when I hear a song I haven't heard for many years. It reminds me of the great Garcia Marquez story The Sea of Lost Time where the townsfolk sit around listening to the gramophone after it has been broken for many years and everyone feels sad.
It's great to hear from you James--but I just want to point out that this Q and A has now officially devolved into questions from fifth grade cousins, high school boyfriends, and people I once met at cocktail parties...not that that's a bad thing, necessarily, but bear in mind that I will still happily answer absurd question from random strangers.
I remember you asking me in 1997 or so how to get a fellowship from the Arizona Arts Commission. We were at a Best of Tucson Tucson Weekly BBQ with a bunch of people. I'd just gotten a grant in poetry and you were looking to get a piece of the action ... Anyway, can I claim any credit for the massive success you've had since?
Why, that sounds like it was a very important, very influential conversation. Yes, dsp, you can claim credit for my massive success--but you have to take responsibility for my abject failure as well.
how did you get into writing books
Hi Ali! I used to tell stories to my dog when I took him for walks. Eventually, I started writing them down. When I wrote enough stories I had a book.
The best way to get over a creative slump is to...?
go somewhere new and turn off the phone. Turn off the internet. Also: take a long walk.
I remember you from the time I lived in Tucson (88-96). Where do I know you from? Please forgive me if it's obvious but I drank way too much during that period of my life. I know that I know you somehow but it's eluding me and driving me nuts. Please Help!
Though I don't remember you either, my best guess is that I slept with you.