There’s a new sub-stack for speculative fiction and it looks great
Email newsletters are obviously the cool new thing, and there are plenty of great (and not-so-great) journalists and opinion writers making big bucks from Substack. But I’ve been wondering for a while now how a successful fictional release might work.1.
Fortunately, I no longer have to ask myself any questions, because the Sunday morning transportation exists now, with the goal of delivering a commuter-sized short story to your inbox every Sunday2. Award-winning fantasy writer Fran Wilde (Riverland) serves as editor, with Serial Box / Realm.fm founder Julian Yap as editor-in-chief – two people who are well versed in the ins and outs of all sides of the sci-fi/fantasy publishing community. So far, they have stories lined up by notable authors including Karen Lord, Kij Johnson, Kat Howard, Elsa Sjunnesson, Juan Martinez, EC Myers, Maureen McHugh, Tessa Gratton, Sarah Pinsker, Brian Slattery, and Malka Older.
Sunday morning transportation released its first story last weekend: “To Make Unending,” a fun take on epic fantasy and parenthood by the inimitable Max Gladstone, author of the crafted sequence (essentially a magical steampunk legal thriller series) and the next Last outing. Sink your teeth into this delightful opening paragraph:
In the twenty-second year of the Seventh Ball, six thousand years since the last High King of Men and Elves fell beneath the waves, and twelve thousand more since the Rose withered on a cold autumn day Beneath the silver trees of the Lady’s Seat of Calberthrel, Celabrim Cindercloak has returned from a long walk in the shade to find her son playing with a calculator.
All the stories about Sunday morning transportation will be free for the month of January; after that, free subscribers only get one story per month, while paid subscribers get a new one every week. If you subscribe by January 31, you’ll also get 20% off – so that’s $56 per year, or $4.67 per month, which is just over a dollar a short story. Which is a hell of a deal! Also, we need more paying speculative fiction markets in general. So I subscribed, and you too.
Sunday morning transport
Image: James Vaughan/Flickr (CC-BY-SA 2.0)
1Existing speculative fiction magazines — by Asimov, Speed of light, Amazing, Clarke’s World, and so on – all have their own subscription models, of course, and they’re usually even cheaper than the Sunday morning transportation, usually between $25 and $40 for a year of fantasy fiction.
Yet a physical magazine, or even an ePub or PDF, is different from just having something delivered to your inbox. Could you get enough people to pay $5 a month for this? With just over 300 subscribers, you could probably support around 5,000 words per week paid at SFWA professional rates. It does not sound too much implausible; however, I also have overcommitment issues as well as extreme executive dysfunction, so I was hesitant to attempt something like this myself. On the bright side, I don’t have to think about myself anymore, because now there is a new market!
2For my part, I’m particularly intrigued by the idea of sending stories on Sundays, when people might be more likely to spend time reading, and which can also help set the tone for the week that could build a strong online community. .