Friday, August 23, 2013

It's a Crime

There hasn't been too much on the market front of late.  I expect it's because Summer's winding down and people are trying to use up as much of their free time outside as they can before cold weather sets in.  Hopefully things will pick up after school starts. 

One thing I've been really disappointed in lately is the lack of straight up crime markets, even of the non-paying variety.  Another thing that troubles me is the lack of anthology calls for mystery writers.  I keep hearing that anthologies don't sell, but the sci-fi/fantasy and horror fields don't seem to be having that problem because I'm seeing plenty of anthology calls in those fields.  Which makes me wonder, is it because all those genres support their short story writers and editors with awards in all those fields?  I know none of the mystery awards have nominees for collections, anthologies, or novella length fiction.  Makes you wonder what the problem is.

And in case you haven't heard Otto Penzler has collected together 90 flash crime stories in an anthology titled "Kwik Krimes".  Happy to see so many online authors listed among the greats in the genre.

Also the 2013 edition of The Best American Mystery Stories has hit the streets with one story from Needle Magazine by Tom Barlow published and two others, by Jen Conley and Timothy Friend listed as "other distinguished stories".  Also listed in this category is a story by Dave White which appeared in "Protectors:  Stories to Benefit PROTECT".

Congrats to all the writers who made it into these two anthologies!!


pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes, yes. I have stories that I can't even find a place to send. I don't like to keep sending stories to the same five places but there it is.

sandra seamans said...

Yes, and one of the reasons I've branched out into other genres. And if a crime story is dark enough I give some of the horror markets a try. Don't always make it in but if you don't try you never know if your story will be a fit.

Thomas Pluck said...

There's definitely a problem. It's very nice to see stories from Protectors get a nod, but the market for thriller/crime/noir/mystery/etc stories seems to be very small, minuscule when you want payment for your work, and the "two party system" of AHMM & EQMM when you want professional pay.

How many anthologies are there? Akashic, the Best of. I don't have a solution, but it's certainly troubling. Is the market that small? We don't want to think about it, but maybe it is.

I love writing short stories, but I'm concentrating on novels for now. I have about 40 stories out there. There will be more, but first, novels. Those seem to be what readers want, that and novellas in e-book form. (Those will be coming too...)

Bryon Quertermous said...

Isn't this what I'be been saying for years now? I just don't think there are that many readers of short mystery fiction. If the readers were there, the money and the markets would follow. But maybe now if everyone realizes how bad it is, we can start figuring out some solutions.

Dave White said...

Thank you for the mention, Sandra! Appreciate it!

sandra seamans said...

Yes, Thomas, the market has been shrinking this past year. What few paying anthologies there are seem to be invitation only, like Akashic and MWA. Can't recall the name of it, but the other popular anthology is only open to New England writers. I think Shotgun Honey was the only paying anthology that was open for subs from everyone this past year.

Quite a few of the online zines have shut down to subs like AToN and TKnC. PWG and Mystericale are iffy markets at best along with Grift. And Needle only puts out three issues a year.

What really sucks is the awards system that excludes most short stories because they're published in non-paying markets or aren't approved markets. The MWA Edgars this year shortlisted four of their own stories this year. Only the "best of" anthologies are considering the worth of the online markets.

There's not a lack of readers, Brian, there's a lack of good markets and publishers who make a push to get the stories out there to the public. There's a big difference.

I still believe that readers want short stories but if we don't give them what they want and let them know what's available how are they going to find them.

I see the sci-fi/fantasy and horror community giving awards. They have a vast number of sites that review those anthologies and collection. Over at the SF Signal they post the table of contents of every new issue both paying and non-paying and every day there's a post pointing readers to free online fiction from the zines to free ebooks. NO ONE is doing that in the crime/mystery genre.

I don't have a solution. Here on my blog I can try to let people know when new issues are available and I try to point out what anthologies are available for sale, but I'm only one voice.

Writers and readers both need to quit talking about themselves and their stories and start talking about what's available out there for everyone to read.

You're most welcome, Dave, and a big congratulations!!

Brian Lindenmuth said...

" I know none of the mystery awards have nominees for collections, anthologies, or novella length fiction."

**cough** Spinetingler Awards **cough** :)

Though admittedly we are a small fish in a large pond.

sandra seamans said...

Yes, Brian, both the Derringers and the Spinetinglers have awards for novellas and the Spinetinglers are the only ones who celebrate the collections and anthologies.

What troubles me is that most of the awards in the Mystery community are reserved for novels only. A few toss in the short story category but for the most part only stories from EQ, AHMM, and the MWA anthologies seem to get any nods.

Though I'm not a chaser of awards for awards sake, I do believe that being nominated draws attention to the work and brings in more readers that might not be aware of what's out there. But I suppose I'm just beating a dead horse here.

Thomas Pluck said...

So the question is, how do we engage the audience to nominate their favorite stories?

The Anthony Awards sends out emails and ballots.
I was surprised that Protectors didn't even get nominated for a Spinetingler. I wasn't about to nominate it myself, but maybe I should have.

I've noticed that writers rarely mention when they have a story in magazine anymore. I try to. How are the zines (and authors) going to grow their audience if they won't even promote their own work? Has the glut of #buy #my #book crap made it taboo to even mention that you have a story in Needle, unless it's your debut there?

The online crime fiction community is great, and I've been contacted by agents due to stories in Needle and Powder Burn Flash, The Flash Fiction Offensive under David Barber. That's fantastic, but more and more it seems like a small pond that won't be growing.

I agree with Brian- there is a market for short crime fiction but it is small. The majority of the fans prefer novels with series characters. Maybe that's what short stories need, recurring characters.
Oscar Martello by Steve Weddle, Jari Jurgis by MAtt Funk. I write Denny the Dent. But at the same time, I don't expect writers to create series characters to revive short fiction when there's little money in it.

However that's what I'd recommend new writers do, write a series character in short fiction, then novellas, if they are popular.

Or we just suck it up and write novels and then sell short fiction to EQMM and AHMM once they know our names.

sandra seamans said...

Editors can nominate stories for both Spinetingler and Derringer Awards, Tom. For the Edgars you have to be a pre-approved as a paying market before you can nominate. Many of the other awards are strictly nominated and voted on by the people attending the conventions.

What's really strange is that this genre was built on short stories and novellas, yet they are mostly ignored these days. Oh, they're read, and most readers prefer the shorter novels but publishers and organizations pretty much ignore them.

EQ and AHMM both publish stories with recurring characters. Ed Hoch did many stories that way. I have series characters I tap into sometimes, but after awhile, at least for me, I feel like I've said all I can with these characters.

And yes, the online community is great, Thomas. I've had editors and agents both approach me from being published online. Which shows that people are reading shorts, but still, the agents only want novels.

I still believe that more people need to speak up and say "Hey, there's a great story here, or this zine has published a wonderful issue. Like novels, shorts and zines both need the word of mouth momentum to get them noticed.