So, I've had quite a few stories out in the past year, and more to be published, and more to be written. I've made very little progress on some of my "bucket list" goals that I've had since Clarion: namely, getting published in old-school pro magazines like Asimov's Science Fiction and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and such.

The biggest reason is that editors of other magazines and anthologies (like Nightmare Magazine and A Darke Phantastique for instance) have been regularly inviting me to write stories or essays for their publications and offering me pro rates. Mind you, this is not a problem! Not even a little teeny-tiny bit! I'm pretty damned fortunate to be in a place in my career where people are coming to me for my writing.

But it means that at any given time my attention is focused on the projects I've been specifically invited to do, and I don't spend a lot of time perusing market listings and thinking "Gee, what should I work on next?"

So: if you find yourself thinking "Gosh, I'd love to have a writer like Lucy contribute to my book," the single best way to make that happen is to ask me. I won't bite! Honest. If you offer me a pro rate I'll most likely reply "Sure, when do you need it?"

A lot of other working writers are in exactly the same situation as I am: they have enough ongoing invitations to do work that a lot of open calls for submission come and go without them ever being aware of them. Or, they might see the call for submission, consider submitting, realize that working on something purely on speculation when they have so many other projects to work on instead might not be the best use of their time, and let them pass by.

And, this has broader implications: I see publications being criticized for having few or no contributors who aren't white male authors and many times those editors throw up their hands and say "Well, we posted the guidelines far and wide! What else were we supposed to do?"

Specifically ask the individual writers you hoped to have in your publication. That's what you could do.

And now I'm hearing newbie editors exclaiming "But what if I invite these people and they turn in crap stories?"

Then you work with the writers to see if they can bring the pieces up to your expectations. And if not, you politely decline them. In short, you do your job as editor.

None of the invitations I've received have represented guaranteed promises to publish. In every circumstance I still have to turn in something the editor feels is right for the anthology or magazine, both in terms of quality and in terms of his or her individual taste

But with an invitation, I as the writer have an assurance that the editor will read my submission reasonably quickly and take the time to provide detailed feedback and direction if it isn't what he or she wanted. (Then, it's up to me to take that feedback and do a proper revision, and so far that's always worked out.) 

With an invitation, I know my work won't languish for months and then simply get a nonresponse or flat rejection, as is often the case when you're writing something purely on spec. In short, with an invite I have some guarantee that I won't be wasting my time on the project.

Outreach takes a bit more time, yes, but any editor can do it. And sometimes you have to reach out more than you expected to (because, hey, the first batch of people you ask may be all booked up) but it's totally doable, if you want to do it. You don't have to just sit on your hands and complain that you're stuck with whatever gets flung over the transom. You're in charge of your project. If you don't like what's being sent to you, or if you're worried you'll be criticized because you're only getting stories from one group of writers, go out and find something else.

But if as an editor you find yourself thinking things like "But black women don't write horror! How am I supposed to invite any?" That's a clear sign you need to do a bit more research and reading before you start your outreach.

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