Lecture Notes

Class Outline:  Starting a Career in Science Fiction  — Gerald Warfield

0.  Who am I, and why should you listen to me?  Began as writer of non-fiction.  15 titles in finance, music and feng shui.  Publishers:  HarperCollins, MacMillan, Longman, John Willey and Clarkson Potter.  Began writing fiction (novels but not published.  NTSFW in 2008.  First story published in 2009.  Writers of the Future winner in 2012.  See my website for details:  http://www.geraldwarfield.com.

1.  Determine what your goals are.  “Publication,” at one time, was a sufficient goal.  No longer.  Any of you can publish today because gate keepers (publishers) are no longer necessary.  Your goals dictate your strategy.  The usual goals in speculative fiction are:

A)  Get published—in what market?

B)  Make money.

C)  Produce as fine a piece of writing as you can.

D   Be a part of a group that you admire (one of the reasons for going to cons).

E)  Therapy (SF may not be the best genre).

F)  An audience (critique groups may not be a good idea)

2.  Decide on genres – already done.

3.  Decide on medium (form):  short story or novel.  Markets and strategies are different.

A)  Novel—do not recommend for those starting their career.   The problem easier to see in music where a beginning music composition student would not start with a symphony.

a)  Critiques are harder to get.  Readers are few and workshopping is awkward.

b)  Markets are limited.  Fewer publishers, responses take longer.

c)  Usually need an agent, which is as hard as getting a publisher.

d)  It’s an all or nothing situation.  You may never “participate” in the writing life.

e)  Learning is harder over a longer time frame and revisions are more time consuming.

B)  Short stories—best for novices, more efficacious for learning to write for the opposite of the all the reasons given above. The rest of my comments assume that you are taking the short story route.

4.  Decide how to achieve your goal—Real-life strategies.

A)  Learn to write—All of these strategies are better in person.  Use online resources only when live facilities not available

a)  Writing class – be careful you are not “guided” by vested interests (genre vs lit.)

b) Workshopping – very concentrated but expensive and time consuming.

c)  Writers’ groups – should be in your genre using the Milford rules.

d)  Individual critiques – by non-writers are limited and often must be interpreted.

e)  Professional critiques – expensive but can be good.

f)   Challenges – NaNoWriMo

b)  Books on writing – see list below, Periodicals – see list below.

e)  Read—read critically, take notes, remember what you read.

B)  Promote your writing—Get it published

a)  Know your market and the major and minor publications

1)  Always follow submission guidelines

2)  Examine an issue and their stated preferences

3)  Submit in professional format

4)  Pay attention to “level” of the magazine, pro, semi-pro, freebie

b)  Be alert for submissions opportunities (know web information sources)

c)  Become known.  Establish contacts at cons and at workshops

d)  Consider self-publishing options—but be aware of dangers

e)  Enter contests

f)  Personal strategy – “Be a nice guy.”

g)  Necessary tools:  website, business cards, elevator pitches

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The best of the writers’ workshops—consider carefully what you need and the methodology

1.  Odyssey Writers’ Workshop (an ordered approach to the elements of writing)

2.  Clarion Writers’ Workshop (prestige, but can be a circus – best if established)

3.  Clarion West Writers’ Workshop (prestige, but can be a circus – best if established)

4.  Taos Toolbox (continuation of all the above but quality can vary)

5.  Viable Paradise (intense, one on one, small)

6.  Occasional workshops and cruises

How do you decide where to send your stuff?

“Pro” magazines specified by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer of America (SFWA)

1)  terms: $.05 a word, $50 minimum (Note: awards are usually from this list!)

2)  The magazines:  AE sci fi, Analog Science Fiction, Apex, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Brutarian (published by Ralan), Bull Spec, Cemetery Dance, Chizine, Cicada, Clarkesworld Magazine, Cosmos, Cricket, Daily Science Fiction, Dragon, EscapePod, Flash Fiction Online, Grantville Gazette, Highlights, Lightspeed, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (F&SF), Nature, Odyssey, Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, The Pedestal Magazine, Redstone Science Fiction, Redstone Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, Subterranean Magazine, Tor.com, Writers of the Future

Non-pro magazines that I think are good:

NewMyths (quarterly) –  http://www.newmyths.com/

From the Depths published by Haunted Waters Press — http://www.hauntedwaterspress.com/From_the_Depths/From_the_Depths.html

Up-to-date publication and writers tips at:

DuoTrope  http://www.duotrope.com/

David Farland’s Daily Kick in he Pants http://www.davidfarland.net/writing_tips/?a=147

Kristine Kathryn Rush (very technical) — http://kriswrites.com/category/business/

Books on Writing:

Grammar:  Painless Grammar by Rebecca Elliott (Barron’s)

Writing:  Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by Nancy Kress, (Writer’s Digest Books 2005)

Science Fiction:  How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy by Orson Scott Card

Internet resources:

Daily Science Fiction — http://dailysciencefiction.com/

Every Day Fiction — http://www.everydayfiction.com/

Grammar Girl:  Quick and Dirty Tips — http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/


World Fantasy Con — http://www.wfc2013.org/

World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) — http://www.worldcon.org/

ConDFW — http://www.condfw.org/

FenCon — http://www.fencon.org/

ReaderCon — http://www.readercon.org/