Not all people who read fantasy and SF want to be writers. But almost all people who want to write fantasy and SF also read the stuff.
And most people who want to write fantasy and SF also want to be able to sell their stories and novels when they are complete.
So . . . why are subscription rates to the magazines that publish fantasy and SF stories falling off? For a long time now, I’ve watched old magazines fail due to lack of subscribers, and new magazines (including e-zines) come into being, prosper briefly, and then fail. Due to a lack of readership.
It is my opinion that if you want to sell your stories then you ought to be willing to buy other people’s stories. It keeps alive the very markets that your career as a writer may depend on. My personal feeling is that short fiction is the cutting edge of our genre. Reading it is an important part of keeping up with the field as well as discovering wonderful new stories and writers for your own enjoyment. If you want to be a writer of SF or fantasy, I think you need to read what others are writing, if only to save yourself the trouble of reinventing the wheel!
Herewith, my suggestions for three magazines that I think every sf/fantasy writer, aspiring or proven, should subscribe to.
Asimov’s Science Fiction Why? Because my taste in stories is very much in tune with what their editors choose to publish. In other words, in almost every issue, I can find a story that makes me go ‘Wow.’ Or one leaves me pondering something. It’s also where you can yearly find a Connie Willis Christmas story, and those my friends, are worth the price of a year’s subscription just by themselves! Don’t be put off by the SF in the title if you are a fantasy only reader. They publish both on a regular basis.
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction This magazine has a solid history of picking winners. Flowers for Algernon comes immediately to mind. Stephen King’s The Dark Tower was first serialized in Over my years of readingF&SF, I have watched writers appear in those pages, blossom and then become giants in the SF/fantasy field. And I am always excited when one of my old favorites, such as Ray Bradbury, shows up on the cover. Solid book reviews by Charles deLint are also in there.
Locus Magazine Now this is the one that I view as indispensible for those with writing ambitions. Locus Magazine bills itself as The Magazine of the Fantasy and Science Fiction Field. Within its pages you will find reviews of forthcoming books and magazines, news of who is writing, selling or reselling what, thoughtful essays, coverage of conventions and, well, all the news of the SF/fantasy world.
Those are my three favorites. I’ll freely admit that I’m a paper addict and do not know the online magazines as well as I should. If you have a favorite magazine, paper or pixel, please feel free to respond here and let us know about it. After all, it’s in all our own best interests as writers and readers to keep these story outlets alive.
And because I’ve had a lot of response to what I wrote about Writer Beware!, I’ll close with a couple of other links that can be of great use to aspiring writers.
The first is Duotrope. To use it’s own words, this site is “an award-winning, free writers’ resource listing over 3550 current Fiction and Poetry publications.” It’s a great resource for discovering new markets for your fiction and poetry. And dare I add, it’s a great resource for discovering magazines that you might want to subscribe to and support!
The second one is GilaQueen. Gila Queen is currently on hiatus as they recover from Hurricane Irene, but we hope to see it back on line soon. And when it does come back, new subscribers would help keep it in existence. Keep checking back there.