Cirsova Publishing Doing Reprints?

I’ve had more than a couple of writers ask me if Cirsova would be interested in buying previously published stories to reprint in Cirsova. Up to this point, my answer has been “No” for several reasons.

  • First, one of the selling points of Cirsova is that we are offering new and exclusive content that can’t be found anywhere else.
  • Second, if a story has been published elsewhere, especially if it has been self-published, that puts a new issue of Cirsova in competition with that work in a way that may not be beneficial to either Cirsova or the author.
  • Third, it would not make sense for us to pay the same rates for a non-exclusive story as an exclusive story. I want to keep Cirsova paying semi-pro rates, but I can’t currently justify those rates for reprint stories while paying the same as I would for exclusivity.

Still, I’ve had a lot of inquiries about reprints and have been brainstorming on the matter. I have a couple thoughts:

  • A reprinted story has less “value” to Cirsova than an exclusive story, so it would make sense to pay a lower rate.
  • A reprinted story would require a different agreement between Cirsova and the Authors of the story. (i.e., we would not be purchasing first rights, exclusivity, etc., just whatever necessary mechanical rights to include them in an anthology).
  • It would make the most sense for us to do separate issues/anthologies, keeping Cirsova Magazine a Semi-Pro market featuring original content while creating a new, offshoot title to showcase reprints, a sort of “best of indie” meets “in case you missed it”.

Given that we’re in the midst of an anti-gatekeeper movement, I find it ironic that I’m essentially in a position where I’m asking people “Is my gatekeeping enough of a selling point that I should consider this?”

At least from an author’s perspective, the answer may be yes – the belief that they can reach a wider readership with their work via Cirsova is a real thing (even if I can hardly believe it myself!), and bringing great stories to the masses is something I’m passionate about. And enough authors have approached me about reprints that I’ve begun to seriously consider.

I put our current regular readership at roughly 150. If we get 100 more yeses than nos, I’ll whip up a framework for a new Cirsova annual spin-off.

Note: This title would have no bearing on what would be acquired for Cirsova HF&SF; it would be a wholly new publication under the Cirsova “banner”. Think of it like a “Tops In Science Fiction” vs. Planet Stories proper, only we’d be reprinting other stories rather than those featured in Cirsova HF&SF.

2018 Submissions, Updating Guidelines, New Pulp Rev Anthologies, and Hugo Stuff

I’ve noticed that with minor rants on twitter, I tend to have less blog fodder, because the thinks come out as shallow thinks in a couple tweets, which get it out of my system, rather than deep thinks which end up as blog posts.

Anyway, Issue 5 is out the door, and barring any of customer support issues I have to deal with, we’ve put it behind us and ready to move onto what needs to be done for issue 6. I’ll have a physical proof today or tomorrow to do my markups on, so we’re well on track, which brings us to the next thing.

2018 Submissions!

I’ve updated our submissions page with some additional criteria and guidelines.

Our submissions will be open from June 1st to July 15th.

Please do not send us anything before June 1st! We might lose it, and you don’t want that to happen. If you’ve got something you’ve been holding onto, polish it. Polish it good, and try to make sure that it meets those standard manuscript formatting requirements (it helps more than someone who’s never tried to edit a magazine might realize).

Our rates have not changed; we still pay 0.01 per word with an additional 0.01 bonus on the first 2.5k words ($50 for 2.5k, $75 for 5k, $100 for 7.5K, etc).

We’ll be buying roughly 120K words of content for 2018.

New Anthologies

We don’t have anything to do with these directly, but they’re pretty exciting and feature some Cirsova contributors and our friends.

Misha Burnett is putting together a 21st Century Thrilling Adventure anthology (yes, I know the blog post has a different title; I’m going by the G+ group’s name). Previously, Misha Burnett pulled together the Eldritch Earth Geophysical Society and collaborated with Cirsova to release those stories in our most recent issue, so you can be sure that the awesome-potential for this new anthology is really high.

Also, in response to something of a challenge regarding some bluster over the Five Fates anthology, Jesse Abraham Lucas has decided to put together an answer to it from the less well established voices in Pulp Revolution. This will be an underground anthology featuring voices from the underground of a movement which itself is underground. Chew on that, hipsters! This one is still in the brainstorming stages, but it could be really great!

Hugo Awards Stuff
We just got our instructions on what we need to do to put together our Hugo Voter Packet, so we’re in the process of getting that assembled.

A few things I’ve noticed:

  • A Hugo nod only got us a negligible day-one spike in traffic; it pales in comparison to the time someone linked to us in Larry Correia’s blog comments.
  • Media really doesn’t seem that interested in the Hugos; other than sharing the standard press release, coverage has been “LOL, Stix Hiscock!” and “Hey, these Marvel comics that are supposedly not selling well got nominations, so they’re actually doing great, right?” The relatively low vote bar for a nomination isn’t the greatest indicator of sales numbers or profitability, lemme tell ya!
  • The biggest media outlets in the state we’re based in didn’t even pick up the press release.

Still, the Voter packet is a huge deal for us. I’d estimate our readership at somewhere between 150-200. Even if only a tiny fraction of the Worldcon membership gives us a look, that’s a chance to hugely expand our readership.

I don’t have any illusions about our chances and would not be surprised if we get nuked for no other reason than being on Vox Day’s list. We weren’t on the original Rabid Puppies list, which should be no surprise, since we really don’t publish the sort of stuff that’s in his wheelhouse, but Jeffro and some other folks put in a good word for us. However we ended up with a nomination, I’m just happy to be here.

If you want to support us in the Hugo Awards contest, you can do so by becoming a Worldcon member. I won’t make any appeal to try to convince folks who just aren’t interested in or don’t want to support Worldcon to do so just to vote for us, but we’re participating, because to change things, one has to participate.

If you want to support the magazine itself, the best ways to do so are buying copies (Amazon, Lulu) or advertising with us. If you’ve read the magazine, please leave reviews!

 

File the Serial Numbers Off

I’ve said in the past and on numerous occasions that I don’t want to see stories about elves or stories where Cthulhu shows up. Even in a good story, when these sorts of elements are used and borrowed, they end up detracting from the story in my eyes.

If you’re not filing off the serial numbers of these things, it’s either because you’re lacking creativity and hoping to rely on established tropes or you’re hoping that by connecting your piece to those related tropes that you can elevate your writing on the merits of the reference. Or somewhere in between. There are shout-outs, yes, and these can be great – Shub Niggurath as the final boss of Quake or the hipster cultist shouting “Ia, Cthulhu!” before the fat Italian editor gets murdered in Foucault’s Pendulum were AWESOME. But if Quake had been a parade of named monsters from Lovecraft as opposed to horrors that FEEL Lovecraftian, or if Umberto Eco had peppered his book with lots of “LOL, Cthulhu, amirite?” it would’ve drastically reduced the effectiveness of the references.

But more than that, have some faith in your creativity! If you’re damnably insistent on writing elves, fine, but if you want to go the “our elves are different route”, which face it, everyone does these days, take a pinch of that creativity that makes your elves different and call them something besides elves. If nothing else, calling your elves something else, even calling them Morves or Velse will be an improvement, because people won’t look at it and say “oh, look, another elf story!”

And eldritch horror monsters? Why Cthulhu or one of the other big-name badguy’s from the Mythos canon, unless you’re trying to coast on the popularity of Cthulhu (and there are folks who will read anything Cthulhu, but that’s not the point)? Name your own big bad evil scary monster god. Sure, he can be Cthulhu, but if you call him something like Uhlthuc you can fool folks into thinking you’re some kinda original writer guy, or something!

Don’t use elves or Cthulhu as a crutch! Yeah, I know that Cthulhu is a cottage industry, but I can tell you right now that your stories will improve by at least %15 or your money back if your evil monster beyond the gates is Uhlthuc and your similar-but-different elves are ‘the Velse’.

(Note: If you submit a story using the names Uhlthuc and ‘the Velse’ and I accept them on merits of story, I reserve the right to withhold the per-word bonus on the first 2500 words; file those serial numbers off harder!)

Aldair, Across the Misty Sea

Aldair, Across the Misty Seas is a book I bought by mistake. The bookstore was dark, and for some reason “Barnett” looked like “Brackett” when I was pulling various DAW, Ace and Zebra books off the shelf for a flea market haul.

Aldair is a pulp-style post-apocalyptic furry sword & seafarer science fiction. It could be that I jumped in on what turned out to be the third volume of a four volume series, but what left me gobsmacked was the appearance that it was written from a ‘place of furness’.

Now, what the hell do I mean by that? When folks talk about writers writing from ‘a place of whiteness’, they generally mean that the writer and the characters in the story take for granted the fact that they’re white – they are the default, and other races and cultures are “the other”. Well, in Aldair, it seemed as though the fact that everyone was an anthro furry was taken for granted.

It took several pages before I figured that something was up. The locations and races were described in terms of faux antiquity, so that it read like a historical adventure – the seafaring Vikonen, the fallen empire of the Rhemians, the Stygiann, rattling off places like Gaullia and Niciea… They were shorthand for the familiar used in a way similar to Howard’s Hyborian world. So, when the narrator mentioned that someone from Gaullia would come up to the chest of a Vikonen warrior, I thought that maybe it was just a figure of speech.

Then the main character describes his Niciean buddy, Thareesh, and his Rhemian dame, Corycia, who is the daughter (or niece, I forget) of Titus Andromeda (so she’s a princess!). The Nicieans are greenskinned and scaly. Cool, Aldair’s got reptile friends! Then Aldair describes the first time he met Corycia, with beautiful auburn hair and a revealing green dress that accentuated her rows of breasts.  Wait.  Rows of breasts?! Throughout the book, characters are described in terms of having paws or claws, muzzles and snouts, but with the exception of the lizardmen who are pretty specifically lizardmen (as a non-furry other), it’s left very vague as to what kinds of petting-zoo people these folks actually are. I’m proud of myself for having correctly guessed that the Vikonen were bears, and by the end I figured out rounds about what most of the characters were, but the book never came out and said “Corycia was a faux-Roman cat-girl” or “Signar is an axe-wielding bearman sea captain”, because the narrator never saw fit to expound on those details. Again, this could be that I just jumped in on the 3rd book of a series, but it made for an interesting reading experience.

But was it good?

Yes, it was pretty damn awesome. And considering that I had no benefit of having read (or until an after-the-fact Google search even known that there were) previous books in the series, it STILL held up on its own, that says something. It was a mix of Baron Munchausen and Horatio Hornblower with a touch of Frank G. Slaughter’s or Anya Seyton’s historical adventure romance; crazy adventures on the high seas, swashbuckling adventure, sword-fights, and even some robots.

In a dark and distant future, Man created anthro-furries, then Man destroyed himself in various wars, leaving petting-zoo people to repeat the history of man, building their own kingdoms and empires that would flourish, war, and fall into ruin.

Aldair is on a quest to find the secrets of Man, hoping that somehow he will find something that will allow beast-kind to break the chains of history’s vicious cycle. In this book, his adventure takes his small fleet from a Vikonen village in what is probably Greenland to North America and eventually to the Amazon, with countless disasters and fights with scary monsters happening in the intervening time. It’s well written and strangely compelling. Again, the comparison that springs most to mind is Forester’s Hornblower stories (particularly those early-ish in HH’s career). Reading Aldair’s travails as captain of a small fleet of ships supported by his quirky and likable lieutenants was a joy.

The only downside is that my reading list just went up by three books as I now need to track down the first two for some context and the last book to find out if Aldair ever rescues his dame from the mutineer who absconded with her into space.

aldair

Aldair and Thareesh in a hot air balloon scouting for the ship that got separated from fleet in a storm. Even the covers of the first 3 books make it impossible to tell what kind of petting zoo person Aldair is! (he’s a piggy man)

aldair 2

Corycia, Rhalgorn, Aldair, and Signar, shown in all of their beastness on the 4th volume’s cover, which was done in a completely different style from the other three. I kind of imagined Aldair looking a bit more dapper…

Couple of Interviews! (Schuyler Hernstrom & Me)

I was going to write up a debriefing of my session running Raiders of the Second Moon, but Jeffro asked if I could post that at Castalia House, so it’ll be going up there Friday after next.

Instead, check out these two interviews! Yesterday, Scott Cole did an awesome interview with Schuyler Hernstom, which you can read here.

I also answered some questions about the design and art aspects of Cirsova at Nya Designs.