As I wrote the other day, the sudden appearance of two excellent short-short stories on the blogs of their respective authors (links in that previous post) put the idea in my head about an anthology of those and others in the sub-sub-genre of Avatarian fiction. The response was amazingly immediate and amazingly positive — so much so, that I thought I’d better get a firmer grip on just what I mean, so that prospective submitters have an idea of what I expect, and prospective readers of what they can expect as a publication.
Disclaimer: All of the following is predicated on receipt of sufficient quality work to inaugurate the publication. No guarantee of publication is stated or implied, either of individual submitted works or of the webzine itself.
The easiest way for me to bring this off as a “one-man-band” will be to use a free blog service. Even though this blog is hosted on Blogger for now, I will undoubtedly put the ‘zine on WordPress (and probably move this blog to that service, too). Individual works will, therefore, appear as if they were blog posts.
I feel like trying something different, based partially on the fact that the ‘zine will appear on a blog service: There will be no scheduled issues as such, and no deadlines for either submission or publication. Accepted works will be posted as they attain their final form, whenever that happens to be. They may be submitted whenever their authors/producer-directors — that is, you — feel they are ready. I will deal with them as they come.
However — To begin with a splash, I intend to wait until there are at least a half-dozen works to inaugurate the thing. In any event, I do not anticipate its premiere before January 2011.
All of the following types of work are sought:
- short fiction up to 10,000 words (requests to read longer works will be entertained… but you have to ask nicely first)
- graphic story (a.k.a. “comics”)
- still photography
Nuts and Bolts:
With limited exceptions, submissions must be sent as attachments with a cover email to lalo[dot]telling[at]gmail[dot]com — if (when?) that gets too busy, I’ll create a new Gmail account for the ‘zine itself, and let everyone know.
An email (or a comment to this blog) containing nothing more than a link to your work is not a submission — except for photography and machinima, as follows.
Please, only one submission in the pipeline at a time — that is, don’t submit a new one until you’ve heard my decision about the previous.
Poets and photographers, you may submit up to three works at once. Please make each poem a separate file.
An alternative form of submission for photographers only: Send me a link to your online gallery. I’ll peruse it, and inquire about particular images that will work as illustrations for the written pieces.
Machinima — obviously, the work will have to be uploaded to YouTube, Vimeo, or similar hosting service (which you’d do anyway, right?), and a link provided for [a] my review; [b] embedding, if accepted.
Attachment formats: I use a Win7-64 PC with the most recent version of OpenOffice and Gimp; if it can’t read your submission, I’ll let you know.
A biographical addendum isn’t necessary unless/until the work is accepted, but if you want to send it up front, that’s fine. As this is a collection of Avatarian works, my first thought is that it be published under your avatar name. Frankly, I’d rather not know what your “real” name is — but the choice is yours.
“Sim-subs” and Reprints:
If you’ve never submitted to a literary ‘zine before, “sim-sub” is short for simultaneous submission: sending a manuscript to more than one publication at the same time. Some ‘zines hate it; some don’t care. I’ve worked both ways, and my policy will be: If you sub to someone else besides me, and they take it before I can get to it, it is up to you to [a] tell me right away, and [b] abide by whatever contractual agreement you have with the original publisher regarding reprints.
If you are submitting a work which has already been published elsewhere, you need to tell me in your cover email, and provide the pertinent information so that the original publisher can be properly attributed if I accept the work (and see [b] in the above paragraph). That means standard bibliographical citation if it was in print on paper, or the bare minimum of a live link if it was online… including your own blog or website, naturally, if that’s where it first saw the light of electrons.
If your work is accepted, the acceptance email will include a request to grant permission to reproduce it one time only (but to remain available on the Internet “in perpetuity”), in a condition to which we mutually agree prior to publication. This blog is covered by the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike license — I will use the same for the ‘zine. You will retain all control over subsequent reproduction of your work; i.e., copyright.
You will not be paid for publication. Neither will I. The sole purpose of the webzine is to promote Avatarian literature and art — and its creators — by exposure to (hopefully) a wider public. As a matter of principal, I do not “monetize.” No commercial advertising will appear in the ‘zine.
One more legalistic note: Avoid using the trademarked names of actual virtual worlds. This will be a publication of fiction; the standard conventions apply.
And now… the really difficult part:
What I mean by “Avatarian”:
Stories — no matter in what form they’re presented — are about people and their personalities, whether those people have flesh or pixels for skin. For this endeavor, I’m leaning toward pixels, but not exclusively so. The work must, however, contain elements of life that can only be found in Virtuality — a.k.a. virtual worlds, augmented reality, MMOs, etc. — as it exists now, or as you imagine it to exist in a future (or past!) of your own devise. It is not limited to that, but it must include that. At the same time, keep in mind that Virtuality should be the setting, not the main character.
There will be times, I have no doubt, when the work is brilliant but “not Avatarian enough”. I won’t know until I read or view it… so don’t let that discourage you from sending it.
What I don’t mean:
This is not the 1920s, and I am not Hugo Gernsbach: I will not entertain the sort of “gee whiz, ain’t these gadgets great?” story upon which science fiction was founded, but from which it matured as early as the 1940s.
Strange Horizons, a science-fiction webzine which has published weekly for 10 years, has a page called “Stories We’ve Seen Too Often”. I recommend it all to you, but particularly these entries:
4. Weird things happen, but it turns out they’re not real.
a. In the end, it turns out it was all a dream.
b. In the end, it turns out it was all in virtual reality.
8. A place is described, with no plot or characters.
15. Story is based in whole or part on a D&D game or world.
a. A party of D&D characters (usually including a fighter, a magic-user, and a thief, one of whom is a half-elf and one a dwarf) enters a dungeon (or the wilderness, or a town, or a tavern) and fights monsters (usually including orcs).
b. Story is the origin story of a D&D character, culminating in their hooking up with a party of adventurers.
c. A group of real-world humans who like roleplaying find themselves transported to D&D world.
Substitute MMO for “D&D” in that last one, and you get the idea.
The rest is up to you. Show me your stuff.
PS: Some of you may be wondering — rightly — “Who is this Lalo guy, and what makes him think he knows what he’s doing?”
Beginning in 2004 (under the name Lalo Fox), I was managing editor of two literary e-zines: Literary Potpourri (later titled InkPot), and The Hiss Quarterly. Sad to say, neither of those publications are still “in print”, though they probably can be found with your favorite search engine. I was also the “submissions wrangler” for both of them, handling the receipt of new material, soliciting more, and writing the acceptance and rejection letters.
After that (and under this name, Lalo Telling), I joined the staff of TQR: Total Quality Reading, where I review submissions that have passed the “first read”. I still do that, and have no intention of leaving.