The publishing industry churns out armies of books every year. A massive amount of labor goes into each paper soldier. Multiple agents and editors read it and torture the author until he or she makes the changes they want to the manuscript's genome. How can a poor, lone, un-tortured author compete with the well-oiled machine of the printing industry?
The only problem with this model is that publishers want to make money. They don't like to go out on a limb and try something they think won't sell. While they often publish very good work, there is plenty of great writing that they won't touch. And last I checked, machines are not yet as intelligent as real human beings.
Of course, anyone can throw a story up on the internet or self-publish a book. Use a fiction site where anyone can post, a blog, a discussion forum, a personal website... but I shudder to think about some of the things one finds in those places.
So is there some middle ground between the industrial meat grinder of the traditional publishing process, and the chaos of every individual throwing text on the web? Of course.
At an e-zine, the editors filter out the stuff that sounds like a 12-year-old fan wrote their own thinly disguised version of Twlilight. Readers find the e-zines that publish some stories they like, and they come back periodically for more. As content sifters, e-zines provide a valuable service.
The bigger zines resemble book publishers in some ways. They actually pay their workers. They try to publish professional quality fiction. But they often fall into a different trap.
The professional-quality zines always want something "new" and "artistic" and "cutting edge". Stories involving traditional fantasy elements such as elves and dragons and magic swords are usually out. It's the same with sci-fi. Action and humor and techno-niftiness for their own sake aren't appreciated.
The high-end zines usually want character-driven stories that read like mainstream literary fiction, though with a thin veneer to disguise them as Speculative Fiction. If a submission reads like the exciting pulp stories that got you hooked on genre fiction back in the old days, the artsy-fartsy publications recoil in horror from it. Not all of them are like that, but it's a pretty fair generalization.
And let's face it, everyone and their dog tries to write. Competition is cutthroat, and editors are overwhelmed by a tide of submissions. Even very good writing gets turned away from the professional and semi-pro markets.
So who does publish humor, action, pulp-style adventure, and weird stuff that doesn't fit mainstream book or magazine publishers' ideas of "good fiction"? Who publishes the stories that are good, but not quite good enough for the Big Time? The free and token-paying e-zines that have sprung up all over the web like mushrooms, that's who. We publish all the stuff that no one else wants to touch, but that's a cut above the free crap that floats around the internet, trying to hungrily latch on to readers and suck away their minds.
You can be assured you aren't reading completely illiterate, mind-sucking crap here. Not complete crap. How close it comes is a matter of opinion. Come sit with us in the mushrooms, in the last digital tier of the internet before you fall into the monstrous abyss, and read a few stories.
Best of all, you won't have to spend a dime.
Enjoy! Your fiction has been filtered by the Quantum Muse editors, bottled, and tested to meet the highest quality standards as mandated by the FDA. And before you have time to think about the fact that the FDA doesn't regulate writing... drink up.2011-06-09 07:03:28 Sidewinder4 - A mind is a terrible thing to waste, but once wasted it is good to have a venue that welcomes us. Thanks for the insight. Some of the old sci-fi [Buck Rogers et. al.] isn't up to modern standards but neither are fifty year old cars. They are both cool, and so is QM.
S4. 2011-06-05 08:55:01 Hey Jer, good stuff as always. You are a cut above, and I'm proud you are associated with QM. Have always loved your writing. I was raised on the "old" fantasy and science fiction--Bradbury, Heinlein, Norton, Silverberg, et. al, and really appreciate that while the world may have "progressed" human emotions and needs are just about the same, as is our love-hate relationship with technology. We're still cowboys and gunslingers at heart, still poets and still interested in the bizarre, the humor, the witty twist at the end of a good read, and there aren't enough venues generallyu offering it. That is one thing I've found here and the other zines I've visited. Admittedly the writing is a little uneven here and there, but mostly, it is fine, and gives any writer a forum for improving his or her output. If there is a sub-culture going on, it's a good one, and I like it--and you know I am a real fan of "free stuff". Keep up the good work,
HH 2011-06-02 22:31:22 jimcollins - As an UN-published author thanks for your analysis. It seems pretty true.
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