Monday, October 15, 2007

Markets of the Dead

Madness. Madness, I tell you.

This was a quiet convention, as conventions go. I went last year to Conclave in Romulus and I would wager there was a sizable drop in attendance this year. I'm not sure why, although I can tell you it took them forever to get the programming together, and once together, the number of panels and presentations from last year were down considerably, with no focus or thread seeming to hold the convention together.

Still, it was fun to drag people in for refreshments while hawking the official release of "High Seas Cthulhu." And magically, I even got to sign a few books. I liked doing that so much, I might just start hanging out in libraries and scribbling in the flyleafs, maybe even forging names as I go along, leaving behind a trail of signatures from Sinclair Lewis to John Steinbeck. Of course, no one seems to take these books out any longer, so my wit may go unappreciated for years.

What's next? I am still pounding away at a novel revision and working on short stories to hawk to an ever shrinking market. Little by little the number of anthologies and magazines are vanishing, stepping off into the dismal clouds of yesteryear.

Years ago, when magazines seemed aplenty, and I'm talking about the forties, fifties, and sixties many writers were publishing their work in mimeographed anthologies and collections of fan fiction. Of course why mimeograph when we have the internet?

I'm working on a piece of fiction now, which should be done by Thursday, hopefully. When this is finished (it's called 'Dead Memories', a better moniker than its working title of 'Zombie Love'), I'll send it out snail mail to the handful of magazines still printing and paying something close to five cents a word. When they reject it, it's off to the five to fifteen dollar a story internet publications. And if they won't print it, why...then it's the freebies.

Writing may be all about the publishing, but when no one is publishing or buying, what's a writer to do?


Charles Gramlich said...

too good a point about your signatures in the library not being found for years. sad but close to true. I don't know what to do about the downturn in magazines. Start your own maybe?

Stewart Sternberg said...

I don't know about starting my own magazine. Awfully expensive, and a pain in the butt where marketing is concerned. I think magazines sound glamorous, but from my exposure to the publishing side, including my relationship over the years with different publishers and editors, it's just not something I want to take on.

I take that back. If someone like The New Yorker, Harpers, or Playboy called me and said: "Come, be one of our editors", then yeah, I would go in a second. But hey, they all have my number and I haven't heard anything yet.

Fab said...

Hey Stewart - I do appologize for not having commented in past months. Feel a bit guilty seeing you put me as "Fab from Belgium" (iep?!) in the side column (for which I thank you).

Published my answer to your question - it's lengthy and pointless, but you asked it.

As always a good post here Stewart, but I'll have to do some catching up.

Pythia3 said...

Hey Stewart, did you walk away from your signing with a little writer's cramp or a small callus on your finger as your souvenir?
Sounds like you had a good time. I don't know what to say about the dwindling readership except that perhaps so much has been exaggerated and exploited and over-exposed over the years that it takes something beyond the beyond to entice and be of interest???
I'll see you Thursday.
BTW - do I need to personally invite you to visit my blog these days? How about a bribe...a glass of wine, a beer, a shot of tequila? Donuts, cookies, candy? WHAT then? And don't tell me 'something worth reading," because my ego's too fragile these days.
PS What happened to the link to Lenk? Have you abandoned me?

spyscribbler said...

It sounds like fun, though! I love conventions. I wish I had more money to spend going to them.

I love those short story-filled magazines. And those authors from the 40s - 60s who started in those magazines really kicked ass. There's something about writing short stories that creates a different sort of writer, I think.

But who knows. May the art never die!

Pythia3 said...

Thanks for stopping by - I'll bring you treat ;-)

Kate S said...

Hey, I still check out Sinclair Lewis! Will you come sign the TS Eliot's for me too?

So glad to hear you had a good time. May you sign many more (of your own) books in the days & years to come.

Now, I'll leave you with this line from Sinclair Lewis. I'm sure it won't strike any cords of recognition... :P

"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

Stephen Mark Rainey said...

I can just see Stewart now, strolling into his local bookstore, pen in hand, and crying, "I'm going to sign all these books, and no one can stop me! Muhahaha!"

Or something like that. ;)

Stewart Sternberg said...

Careful, Stephen, or the book I next sign may be one of yours. Maybe I'll change my name.