New Writers? GTFO

New Writers? GTFO

Speaking of Realms of Fantasy, I was just paging through the new issue when I came across a letter from the editor, Shawna McCarthy, in the back. Here’s an interesting quote:

Without the magazines providing both a training ground and a platform for young writers, the genre publishing industry will be severely hampered–writers without track records have a much harder time finding agents, and should they have sufficient talent to find an agent without a short fiction history, the agent will have a much harder time selling their books to a publisher. All that will be left in the SF and Fantasy section are Old Reliable Writers, which, don’t get me wrong, have survived as long as they have because they are talented and capable, but as with all other things, they will one day pass on and who will be there to keep the industry alive?

I’m sure there are a few people who will debate her point about writers needing a short fiction track record, etc., but I’m more interested in this because of something Realms publisher Warren Lapine said at ReaderCon.

Now, I was not there for this, but my sources are multiple and reliable. Apparently on Thursday evening during a party, someone asked Warren about e-submissions and Realms. The discussion that ensued was described to me as a ‘fight’, with Warren very much against e-subs. When someone said to him that he was basically cutting out a whole generation of younger writers by being against e-subs, Warren reportedly said something like: Why do I need those writers, I’ve got Harlan Ellison in my magazine!

(Apparently there’s a Harlan story in an upcoming issue.)

This attitude is very much at odds, it seems, with the Fiction Editor’s. I don’t know how McCarthy feels about e-subs, specifically, but she doesn’t seem to feel that the presence of an Old Reliable Writer like Ellison is of so much more value than newer writers.

Later in the weekend I myself asked Warren if Realms would be accepting e-subs, and he told me something different. He said something about how if a writer rises up to a certain level, they can send submissions any way they please. I believe the words “Neil Gaiman can submit to me in crayon, if he wants” were uttered. But as concerns lower-level writers, he can’t have them sending in e-subs, that would be a disaster. But if you rise up — say have a book on the NYTimes bestseller list or something — you certainly can.

Again: Old Reliable Writers can do what they want because we want them! Young/New writers? Pfft!

(by the way, this is my last RoF post for the day, possibly forever. I’d meant to post these last week but stuff got int he way.)

Realms of Covers

Realms of Covers

A couple of weekends ago at ReaderCon I got the chance to see the newest issue of Realms of Fantasy, the magazine that, earlier this year, was canceled by the company that owned it. Publisher Warren Lapine bought the magazine because he saw that there was a groundswell of online activism around saving it. RoF is now reborn.

Here’s the cover, in case you haven’t seen it:

Realms of Fantasy cover

Someone also sent me a link to an image that’s going to appear in a forthcoming issue as art for a specific story.

For many years now — certainly since I started reading Realms, something I talk about here — the magazine has had a tendency to put some rather strange things on their covers. A lot of chicks in chainmail-type images when its not movie or television promo shots. I hear tell that these increase newsstand sales and I don’t doubt it. It can be really tiresome to look at year after year. But hey, people gotta eat.

So when I saw the new cover I wasn’t exactly surprised. I hear the nipples had to be taken out in order to make it newsstand-worthy; also not surprising. Realms has always had this tendency to put women in provocative clothing/poses/etc. on the front even though that kind of thing appeals more to men. I just don’t get it.

Warren Lapine was at ReaderCon handing out free copies of the magazine. We were both at the same party on Saturday night, so I took the opportunity to ask him a question that had been burning in my mind. What follows is an actual conversation I had with Lapine, transcribed from my memory, so there’s lots of paraphrasing and such.

Me: So, Warren, I was wondering: now that Realms is under new management and all, when are we going to see some male asses on the cover?

Warren: (raucous laughter)

Me: Because it seems like you’ve got the whole naked women thing down and the boob thing down, so how about some equal time?

Warren: That’s a good question. We should ask our new Art Director. Doug, c’mere for a second!

Doug [Cohen]: Yeah?

Me: (giving my full attention to Doug) I was just wondering when we’d see some male asses on the cover of Realms. Or even some penises?

Warren: (still highly amused) We’re not allowed to put penises on the cover, though.

Me: Makes sense. But inside, then. Because you’ve got plenty of boobs. Fish-girl boobs and nipple-less boobs and snake-woman boobs and boobs and more boobs.

Doug: (looking like he wants to shove a knife in my eye)

Me: I think it would do the magazine good to have some nice male asses around, don’t you? Or even: a shot from behind of a well-toned guy with him looking over his shoulder and a Fabio face or something.

Warren: (more laughter) I was just about to say! (turning to Doug) Our readership is, what, 4-1 female…

Me: Right! (to Doug) Don’t you think this is a good idea?

Doug: It sounds like a Tempest idea.

Me: Right, because it’s awesome! Another thing, maybe you don’t need so many boobs out there. Women in nice outfits works. You do know that women wear clothing most of the time, don’t you, Doug?

Doug: I know it now.

[I will pause here to note that I was unsure whether Cohen was trying to imply that I’d enlightened him on this fact because he’s been living in some dark cave most of his life or that he so very often sees women undressed that this was news to him. I’ll leave it to you to decide.]

Warren: Well, I was in a hair band in the 80s, and back then it sure didn’t seem like they did.

(so much laughter! OH HOHO! Also, I am given credit for ‘having a sense of humor’ because I laughed. …)

The conversation went on in this vein for a little longer, all the while certain parties not appreciating my suggestions. I think I especially riled someone when I asked if Realms had a monthly boob quota sheet in the office somewhere. But honestly, I wonder.

I overheard Warren and Doug talking about the issue together a little while later and got the impression that Warren felt I had a valid point and Doug felt that I initiated the conversation just to annoy him. Nevermind that I didn’t initiate the conversation with him; I went to the person with the power to decide stuff.

Anyway, time will tell if we get to see some male cheesecake on the cover. If we want it more inside the magazine obviously someone is going to have to step up and write some stories that call for it. Thus is my challenge to you, fantasy writers. Go to it!