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12.12.2007

Serialization

I recently finished a short story I'm pretty proud of, but it checks in at a whopping 7,300 words. A story like that represents a real double-edged sword. Unfortunately, it takes about 80% of the markets off the table from the start (I've found 4,000 words to be about the most marketable length for a short). That means that most of the zines don't want it and it disqualifies itself for some of the finer small-print and PDF magazines as well.

The flip side is, if it's as good as I think it is, then it'll find a home at a more substantial market. I'm thinking I'll send it to Asimov's, Cemetery Dance, Fantasy and Science Fiction and Weird Tales. I think I'll even take a flier and try Playboy.

Now those are some of the heavies and I understand the competition is stiff, but if the story strikes a chord with an editor--it's a great placement. It gets your name in front of lots of readers and automatically becomes your go-to plug when listing your credits.

Is "The Glimpse Society" good enough to find a home with one of these? I sure hope so. It was a hell of a ride writing it.

That said, some of these magazines will also run a piece longer than mine--say 25,000 words--in a series. This was common practice (and profitable) in the publishing world about a century ago. But I wonder how audiences would respond in '07. I'd subscribe to a magazine solely on the merits of the one story if I knew they'd run a three-four edition tale penned by King or Lansdale. But there aren't many writers out there that have this kind of influence, which makes the 25,000-word short story a very difficult placement.

And I ask this partly because The Golden Compass is getting heavy criticism now, it seems, for its cliffhanger ending. I know it's likely part of a trilogy, but I wonder if this practice isn't seriously damaging some of the films that are out there. I could accept it with the second in the LOTR series, but Pirates of the Caribbean is tiiiirrrrreeeeddddd with their open conclusions.

Why can't these guys seem to write a fully actualized narrative while still leaving the window cracked for the next series (and maybe the best we've seen in the film industry recently in doing this is the Harry Potter series)?

So I guess my take is: serialized films, not so good (lately); stories and novels, willing to give them a try.

What do you think?

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