Announcing Some Mid-Trajectory Course Corrections
Therefore, as the cumulative result of our many eye-opening learning experiences in 2012, we've decided to make some significant changes as we move into 2013. Effective either immediately or phasing in over the next few months:
1. We've decided to let STUPEFYING STORIES become the science fiction and fantasy magazine it clearly wants to be. We're still willing to stray further into the gray areas between SF/F, horror, and mystery than most other publications, and we're still going to do a Halloween special (wouldn't miss that one!), but the straight-up contemporary mysteries, the exercises in depravity and revulsion that claim to be horror stories, and the "I don't know what the heck to call this but I thought you'd like it" pieces that are so experimental as to be unintelligible are out.
I know; when I first launched STUPEFYING STORIES, it was with the declared intention of overthrowing what I considered to be arbitrary genre boundaries. I still believe that needs to be done, but file that idea under H for Hubris, cross-indexed to I for Idiotic.
2. We are decoupling from the calendar for the next three months. We know that STUPEFYING STORIES sells best when we have a new regular edition ready to release on the first day of each and every month, but we've also learned the hard way that the demands of putting out a new book monthly, plus trying to launch a series double-length specials, has overloaded our capacity. Therefore, for the next three months, we are going to ignore the calendar to the extent possible and concentrate on getting the following books released:
- PUTREFYING STORIES (a.k.a., "The Zombie Special.") This long-delayed double-length book is still stuck in the state of being about a week away from ready to release, but every time I've thought I've had that week clear, Otogu has interrupted. It's time to just finish this book and push it out the door, preferably on or about February 1.
- FIVE STARS (a.k.a., "The STUPEFYING STORIES sampler.") This one is even closer to release--but I have got to get the zombie book out first.
- THROWBACKS! This one isn't quite as close to release as PUTREFYING STORIES, but it's only a few weeks behind it, and once we've got the zombie book out the door it's next on the docket. Sadly, it's not going to make it in time for "Jesus Leads the Jets to the AFC Championship" to be timely and topical, but maybe we're getting an early jump-start on next season.
- The once-again-nameless mystery special. Sorry Jeff, Nicolai, Thomas, and Kent; I know this one has been on and off the docket for a ridiculously long time. This project is still near and dear to my heart, and right up until mid-December we were still aiming for a January 1 launch and planning to make this the inaugural title in our new quarterly series. We still have the funding, but simply don't have the man-hours (okay Karen, person-hours) to launch another series at this time. So we're putting this one back onto the STUPEFYING STORIES PRESENTS list and targeting it for release on or about March 1.
- M. David Blake is off on a mission from John W. Campbell Jr., doing an invitation-only pro bono special of his own design, and those who need to know about it do so already. I mention this now only because it's going to be a monster, and when it hits it's going to chew up a lot of admin time--but right at the moment, I have no clear idea of when that impact will happen. It's kind of like knowing there's an asteroid with your name on it somewhere out there, floating around in an intersecting orbit...
- Sometime between now and mid-February, we'll be releasing STUPEFYING STORIES 1.12, which will be a regular issue/edition, and sometime in March we'll be releasing 1.13. But we're not going to sweat hitting any particular release dates right on the nose for those.
3. We are changing the way we handle submissions. Again. We stuck to my original ideas of making certain every submission got two full reads and of sending personal rejections whenever possible far longer than everyone said we would, but in the end, the sheer volume of submissions has ground us down. Effective immediately:
- We no longer accept printed submissions sent to our P.O. box. They make the office admin's day when she finds an actual manuscript in the mailbox, but given the way our personnel are distributed across the entire continent, physical manuscripts are a pain to process. From now on, we accept electronic submissions only.
- We no longer accept multiple submissions. No more bundling three stories into a single submission, please. Put your best foot (or hoof, claw, tentacle, or pseudopod, as the case may be) forward. If you've sent us one submission, please wait until you hear back from us before sending another.
- We'll still consider simultaneous submissions, but exclusive submissions will be given preference. If your submission is exclusive to us, please say so in your cover letter.
- We're going back to pre-screening submissions. We see an awful lot of submissions that are instantly and obviously Not Right For Us from page one, paragraph one. This is not to say that they might not be perfect for someone else; just, they're not right for us. Therefore, in the interests of making best use of our first readers' time, we're going to resume pre-screening.
- We're going to be making greater use of form rejections. I hate to do this--believe me, I'd love to send each and every aspiring contributor a detailed critique of his or her story--but there just isn't enough time left before the heat death of the universe to do so. Ergo, don't be miffed if you've previously received a personal rejection and now receive a form rejection. It doesn't mean anything more than we're running out of time.
4. We currently are conducting an audit of our submission files. In September 2012, we cut over to a new server dedicated to handling submissions. It's become apparent that the transition did not go as smoothly as we thought at the time, as we are still finding stories that were "misplaced" in the move. If you submitted a story to us before September 1, 2012, and either a.) never received an acknowledgement of receipt, b.) received an acknowledgement of receipt but never heard from us again, or c.) received a notice telling you your story was being held for further consideration but never heard from us again, please contact us now.
5. We currently are conducting an audit of our contract files. As a side-effect of the submission audit we're finding stories we accepted but for which we don't have contracts; stories under contract which we've forgotten we had; stories with old contracts that pre-date our use of the expiration date clause; and stories with expiration-date contracts that are about to expire. Late last year we moved to using Adobe EchoSign to do electronic contracts with e-signatures, and the difference this has made has been spectacular.
Therefore, if you have any concern about your contract in general, please contact us, but in particular, if you have an old pre-expiration date contract (Nicolai, this means you), or if you have a contract with an expiration date that's about to expire (Joshua, this means you), please contact us, and we'll re-draft your contract using EchoSign.
One more time, I want to stress that we accomplished a lot of really terrific things in 2012, and I can't begin to thank the STUPEFYING STORIES crew enough. Henry, Marc, Vidad, Kersley, Erin, Guy, Barbara, Allan, Frances, Jason, Eli, Ryan, Arisia, Tyler, Ricky, Paul, Mike, David, Alicia, Theo, and above all, Karen: THANK YOU! We couldn't have done it without you!
Responsibility for everything that went wrong or that we failed to accomplish in 2012 belongs on my desk, with most items to be filed under H, for Hubris. And with that said:
Upward and onward, into 2013!
Editor, STUPEFYING STORIES