Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Modern Pulp

A significant number of well-regarded writers (and many more long-forgotten writers) began their careers during the pulp era, pounding out short stories for a penny a word, or less. Their work filled dozens of pulp-era magazines with all manner of genre fiction. While the pulp era is long past, short story writers can still generate a respectable income writing short fiction.

It isn't easy, though. It requires the ability to produce a lot of words in a short amount of time and in multiple genres. Writers unwilling to do this--especially those unwilling to venture outside the realm of a single genre--will have difficulty placing more than a handful of stories in any given year. But those of us who don't mind bouncing from one genre to another like a pinball can find receptive markets every time we turn around.

I can, without much effort, name markets that publish a combined total of more than 1,000 short stories each year. I can probably--though it would certainly take a bit more effort--name markets that publish a combined total of more than 2,000 short stories each year.

I'm selling a short story each week, so I'm only filling 50 or so of those 2,000+ slots. Surely there are other writers doing the same. If you're out there, raise your hand. We just may be the modern pulp writers.


Steven said...

Just wondering if the markets you're talking about are paying markets and, since this is your bread and butter, do you consider non-paying markets for your stories. In the past 18 months, I've managed to place about 12 stories, but only two of them got me checks.

Michael Bracken said...

Steven, I place the vast majority of my short stories with paying markets. 57 of my last 60 published short stories brought in checks. The three that didn't: the first was published in a small press anthology edited by two friends of mine, the second was a reprint, and the third took 10 years to find a home.

I do consider non-paying markets for my work, but only under special circumstances or after exhausting all known paying markets that might be interested.