Current Project: THE FESTIVAL OF TOXCATL

To bring you up to date, I’m currently working on a story called ‘The Festival of Toxcatl’ for submission to the anthology History is Dead.

The anthology doesn’t pay that much ($25 + contributor’s copy) and I normally wouldn’t put something together for submission to such a low-paying market.*

However, in this case, the theme–historical zombie fiction–appealed to me on too many levels to pass up. In fact, three or four story ideas leapt to mind. But ‘The Festival of Toxcatl’ came to me fully-formed, and that’s a hard inspiration to pass up.

I have about 6000 words now (again, about twice the length I thought it would be) and hope to have the first draft wrapped up this week.

– S.

*Now, you might be thinking: “Who the hell does this guy think he is? Sells a couple of stories to pro markets and wins the Writers of the Future and suddenly he’s too good for small-press anthologies?” But I don’t mean it to sound harsh or judgmental. Permuted Press is a small horror press, and there’s generally not a lot of money in short fiction anyway, so there’s nothing wrong with their rates. In fact, another sale of mine was an original story to a forthcoming small-press Canadian anthology, North of Infinity III, for $100. And I generally really like the stuff I read out of these small presses and small magazines–sometimes, a lot more than stuff I see in the Big Three.

So, lest you get the wrong idea about me, I don’t expect this to be some kind of guaranteed sale, or like I’m deigning to send them a story because of any credentials I might have. I desperately want to sell to this anthology. I think it’s a great anthology idea and one which I’d very much like to read, regardless of whether my story is in it or not. Having a story in the kinds of books I’d want to read is even better 🙂

And I fully expect this story to have to fight for a place in the book like another other submission, which means I need to write the strongest, most compelling story I can. Whatever your sales experience, I think that it always comes down to a given editor liking a given story, so “best story wins” and that’s the great equalizer (unless you’re one of the Grand Masters, who could sell their grocery lists on name recognition alone if they wanted) .

But consider that for the same amount of time and effort it takes to produce something for a $25-a-story anthology, I could be writing something aimed at one of the bigger pro markets. And while pro rates are only around 5-6 c/word, that still means potentially several hundred dollars for a sale–US dollars, which are still worth fractionally more than the Canadian dollar, which means an even bigger pay-out. There’s not much money, but I’m in it for what there is 🙂

Plus, part of this is playing the game of trying to make it as a pro. Consider that my priority needs to be on sales to pro markets, because (besides money) if get a third pro sale I can be a full, voting member of SFWA, and I have to believe sales to pro markets look better to prospective agents and book editors.

For me, if I want to be a professional in this genre, then I feel I need to test myself in the most competitive markets and against the other professionals in the field–and that means the pro markets.

So, in general, I would pass on markets that pay $25…except that the chance of participating in this book was too good to pass up .

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