While Singapore has a few literary magazines, there currently aren’t any magazines for speculative fiction. While editors of these magazines might welcome spec-fict pieces, it’s also a matter of finding the right reader for your work.
Well as they say, look beyond. With the Internet, if you’re a spec fiction writer that’s certainly no excuse to stop writing, or submitting. I’ve submitted work to ezines overseas, such as Chiarascuro and Innsmouth Press. For the former, it was a story I submitted for a short story contest which took second prize and was a Honorable Mention in the Best Horror of the Year. Unfortunately the story is no longer online though the mention is here: http://www.chizine.com/backissues.htm.
The latter publishes Lovecraft-inspired fiction, and being an admirer of his work, if not his personal life, I decided to take a stab at a short story based in South East Asia that made use of his mythos. You can read it here: http://www.innsmouthfreepress.com/?p=16366
Other writers, such as editors Joyce Chng and June Yang, have had stories published on sites such as M-BraneSF and Crossed Genres. June’s story, Carrier Signal, was published by Crossed Genres: http://crossedgenres.com/subscribers/carrier-signal-by-j-y-yang/. Joyce’s The Sound of Breaking Glass joins the works of other international writers in The Apex Book of World SF 2.
I believe it’s important for a developing writer to be read, and also rejected. Every publication builds up your confidence as a writer, and it’s nice to see comments or read feedback about the stories I’ve published in these magazines.
Your reaction might be that readers don’t want to read works by Singaporean writers set in Asian settings. Frankly, it’s been proven again and again that this is a fallacy. I strongly believe that readers are interested in non-generic Western settings. The zines I’ve submitted to have never found it a factor, and with the sheer number of outlets, any editor would want a story in a different setting.
So how do you get started? Well, firstly you have to find a zine to submit to. You have to read the publication to get a feel of the material they want. Innsmouth magazine focuses on dark fantasy and horror. Clarkesworld has more of a hard science fiction feel. There’s a list of magazines you can try at here: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~mslee/mag.html . It’s certainly not all-inclusive, so use a search engine to do even more research if you want.
Once you think you’ve found a magazine that fits the genre or subgenre you want, check out the submission guidelines. Read them carefully. Some magazines require you submit a query letter. Others don’t. Ignore the guidelines at your peril. With electronic submissions, these zines are often swamped, and it’s easy for a slush pile reader to toss your story back, or even worst, into the virtual recycle bin.
However, don’t submit blindly. Don’t forget your own rights as a writer. What rights do you give to the zine? Do rights revert back to you immediately or after a period of time? This is an important consideration. Don’t sell yourself short, and make sure you retain the rights to you work after publication.
Unfortunately, many magazines are indicated with submissions and only open their submissions when they have cleared their backlog. I would not suggest waiting until submissions are open again to work on your story, as it just makes you procrastinate. Start writing; even if the zine folds up, there will be other options and opportunities for your story in the future.
Aside: Check out this post on Strange Horizons for “stories they’ve seen too often”.
Once you’ve finished your story and polished it up, send it off. It might take a while before hearing from the editor.
Of course, your work might not be what the editor is looking for. Brush off the tears, swear at the screen and take another look at your piece. Is it targeted at the right market? Might the zine have published something similar recently, or in the pipeline? Would there be another magazine that might be interested in looking at it?
Building a portfolio by publishing to various zines will also increase your standing and confidence as a writer. I recommend newer writers start with fan or semi pro zines before progressing onward. Lets face it; the money isn’t great, but the encouragement of getting a story accepted is always a great boost.
Also keep a lookout for contests that are open to international submissions. I do raise an eyebrow at contests that ask for entrance fees, but not all are dubious.
So keep on working at it, young writer. Going global is a big step, but a good one to take.
This post is the last of a series planned in conjunction with our open call for The Ayam Curtain.