Jim Worrad is a member of of my writing group, The Speculators, and a fine writer of space opera styled science fiction. Jim and I were discussing the logistical problems of getting stories out to American magazines, and wonderful human being that he is, Jim agreed to pen a piece on the subject for this blog. This is the first guest blog I have featured here, but not the last. If you have an idea for a guest blog, drop me an email.
We live in an age of high-speed information, but you wouldn’t think it to look at some speculative fiction magazines. I’m not kidding. Two of America’s ‘big three’ SF publications—-Analog and F&SF–will not accept your story submission in electronic form*.
Who knows why? Perhaps they imagine only the serious writer buys stamps, ‘talent borrows, genius seals envelopes’, if you will. Or maybe it’s the virus thing. Fair enough. After all, we can’t expect everyone to be as firewall-savvy as Saga magazine or the WI (both of whom accept E-mail submissions). My own theory is their editorial staff received too much cyberpunk material back in the ‘eighties and consequently live in fear of jack plugs penetrating their spines the moment they open a Gmail account.
But all this is prologue. What I want to bring to the attention of readers here is this – practical correspondence with aforementioned mags is impossible from the UK, because the Royal Mail no longer sells International Reply Coupons.
Oh, yes, they say they do, but it’s in the same way they say past winners of The Running Man are drinking daiquiris in a holiday resort somewhere.
Trust me. Some time ago I tried sending a story to Asimovs (Bless ‘em. They’ve recently decided to accept electronic submissions—-the only one of ‘the big three’ to do so. Somewhere, Isaac smiles) and took it in an envelope to my local snailmailery.
‘Oh, no one asks for those things anymore,’ the Postmistress told me when I asked about IRCs. ‘The Post office hasn’t issued them for a while.’
‘That’s not what your website says,’ I said, which made everyone behind the counter smile. Mentioning the RM’s website has that effect on its staff – it’s their equivalent of when Del Boy falls backwards through that bar in Only Fools and Horses. Talking about it brings warm, fuzzy amusement to anyone in earshot.
Helpfully, the Postmistress suggested I could always ‘pop a few pounds in the envelope’ so that the receiver could exchange them for dollars and go out and buy stamps with it.
Hmm… Could this be the reason Asimov’s went electric in the first place?
My fellow laser’n’dragon hacks tell similar stories. Asking for IRC’s in Leicester Post Offices gets you the same blank stare as asking for IEDs. I imagine the same holds true throughout the rest of Albion.
So there you go – an SF writer living in the UK cannot send their work to the US inkies and expect to get a reply! Ever! So why bother, when other venues do? It’s a real shame, truly, but there you have it.
Have Analog or F&SF even noticed this silence of the Limeys? Their guidelines still rattle on about International Reply Coupons, so we can only assume not.
Maybe someone should tell ‘em. Oh, wait a minute…
*Ironically, one can send an email submission to Solander, the fiction magazine of the Historical Novel Society, without fear of the ducking stool or the thumb screw. Stick that in your singularity and vaporise it, Analog! Unfortunately, I can’t speak for literary fiction magazines. I write stories where something occurs.