Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Market Report: Grimdark Magazine

The following is an interview with Adrian Collins, editor of the recently-announced pro-paying market for gritty fantasy and SF, based in Australia.

Click here for detailed guidelines.

Genres: Epic Fantasy, SF. Stories must be "grimdark" (Gritty, dark style reminiscent of Game of Thrones, Warhammer 40K, etc.)

Length: 1500-4000 words

Reprints: No

Pay rate: $0.05 per word (increasing to $0.06 per word as of July 1). Payment in $AU. (Currently $AU1 = $US 0.94)

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You mention on the site that the inaugural issue of the magazine will lunch by September. What sort of publishing schedule do you expect to adhere to afterward? How many stories will be published per issue, and what format(s) will the magazine be available in? Will the stories be available to read online for free, or will they be distributed as a for-purchase e-zine?

We're going to get knee-deep in grit once a quarter. There may be an anthology at the end of it. We'll start out with three stories, one interview, and one review per issue.

So far the formats we're going for will be available electronically (as an ebook and also via an app we're currently at the wire frame stage of developing), and in print. Further formats will depend on how much we can achieve in this first year, but we'll announce those as they come. We'll be distributing the issues as a purchase only product.

The authors you mentioned among your favorites are generally known for writing long. However, you cap the submissions at the relatively humble 4000 words. Could you talk a little bit about the thought process behind the specific word count range (1500-4000), and perhaps name a few short stories that size published elsewhere that you would have bought, given the chance?

The limit was a mixture of budgeting for sustainability and a firm belief that a great deal can be achieved in a 4,000 word short story. I have forty or so sitting in the inbox right now as prime examples. While I'm not sure on the exact word counts, have a look at some of the works in Dangerous Women and the upcoming Rogues, or the Swords and Sorcery anthology (Joe Abercrombie has one in each). Some eclipse the limit, such as GRRM's, but others would be under.

On the flip side of that, why not consider flash fiction? There's some really great dark fare under 1000 words out there.

That's a fair call. I think our guidelines might need a bit of updating.
 
The guidelines specifically mention medieval fantasy and science fiction. But what about gritty urban fantasy, steampunk, or mild horror? Would you want to see any of that on submission?

At some point, yes. Right now, for the first release, I'll be sticking to the subject matter that appeals the most, having the highest number of big-hit authors.

While most readers and writers have a pretty good idea of what grimdark fantasy is (thanks, GRRM!), could you go into a bit more detail as to what sort of science fiction stories you would like to see?

Growing up I was a huge 40K fan. I loved the grim slave-like lives of the Imperial citizens and the bloody battles of the guardsmen. The Horus Heresy, Gaunt's Ghosts, and Eisenhorn series were three that I really enjoyed. Give me depressing settings with anti-heroes I can't put down. Give me individuals trying to make the best out of humanity at its worst. Or don't. Come up with something better. Show me Grimdark Sci-Fi like I've never imagined it before. I've already received some amazing stories that are beginning to expand my appreciation for the sub-genre.

Can you share a little about yourself? Any previous editorial experience, or publishing history as an author? What made you launch Grimdark Magazine?

My professional background is in business: process development, project management, website content creation and management, proposal and tender writing. I've always read anything I could get my hands on. Grimdark fantasy and sci-fi has managed to hold me captivated ever since I read David Gemmell's Rigante series at uni. As an author, I've been submitting to paying markets for a year now and have become well accustomed to the rejections and "nearly there" emails that are the less fun part of running a magazine. I've also self published two books. I like to call them my learning books. Those are the two that should have stayed in the desk drawer, but I wouldn't hand back the experience of doing it if I had the option.

Grimdark Magazine is the realisation of something I've been wanting to do for a long time. It's the result of my personal obsession in the genre and the realisation I couldn't find a pro-paying market for it. Now felt like to right time to give Grimdark Magazine a go, while my personal commitments in the way of children and mortgages are few.

I love that you're committed to paying authors a reasonable wage, but can you go into a bit more specifics about the rights you're asking for. The web site just says exclusive rights for a year; does that mean you'll be wanting foreign language rights? Audio rights? Will you make exceptions for Best Of anthologies?

Paying authors a pro wage just feels right. Up front my bank account may not agree with that, but I'll go to sleep with a smile on my face when I pay authors properly for the right to sell little pieces of their their imaginations to a hungry audience. At this point we won't be after foreign language rights, but we will hold on to audio rights. Provided the best of anthologies are printed three months after our publication, there's no problem with those works being re-snapped up, nor a contract being entered into prior to that three month period ending.

What sort of marketing and promotion do you plan on doing to get the stories you publish in front of as many readers as possible?

As anyone who's marketed themselves will know, this is always the hard part. We're not an imprint of Gollancz or Tor, and can't ride those coat tails. It'll have to be a lot of hard work across a lot of platforms and a cracking first issue to build reader trust. That, and perhaps a piece or two from some of the premier authors in our genre.

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