In my search for genre markets, I often come across brand-spanking new magazines and webzines eagerly accepting submissions for their inaugural issue or issues. Duotrope has a handy way of identifying such markets, noting them as fledgling, which means, “This project is new and has been listed with us for less than six months.” So, with how quickly genre markets appear and disappear, should you send work to a fledgling market? Sure you should, but there are some things you might consider first.
Okay, numbered list time!
1) Do they pay? Let me preface this by saying I don’t think payment is necessarily an automatic indicator of a quality market, and some well-respected markets do not pay. But when I’m evaluating a fledgling market, knowing they have some skin in the game (so to speak) makes me more confident they might have some staying power. I feel even better if they’re paying at the semi-pro or pro tier.
2) Who is/are the editor/editors? Who’s running the show at a fledgling market is important. Do they have experience running a magazine? Have they been in a position to evaluate stories prior to this? Say, at a publishing house or another magazine? All good questions and usually not difficult ones to answer. If you’ve worked in the industry for any length of time, you’ve probably got a reasonable professional internet footprint, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with looking up the EIC or managing editor of a fledgling market to see what kind of experience they have.
3) Professional presentation. You can absolutely judge a book by its cover sometimes, and there is a lot to be said for a professional presentation. I don’t need to see cutting-edge web design on a fledgling market’s site, but I would like to see something clean, well-organized, and easy to navigate, especially if they’re a web-zine that displays an author’s work directly on the site. Obviously, I don’t want to see typos or grammar and spelling issues. A professional-looking and professionally edited website tells me my story is likely in good hands.
4) Clear terms. What rights is the fledgling market buying? Do they have a standard contract? How long before I can publish my story as a reprint? All of these are important questions, and I want them answered clearly and concisely on the fledgling market’s web page, like this:
What we are buying: First World English Rights, First Electronic Rights, and Anthology Rights (a “best of” to be negotiated with the authors). We ask for exclusive rights to the author’s work for six months (the duration of a single issue’s run, plus two months), as well as exclusive anthology rights for a year, both to begin at the time of publication.
If a fledgling market really wants to give me the warm fuzzies, they might use something like the SFWA model contract. That kind of thing really puts an author’s mind at ease.
5) Standard guidelines. What I hope to see in a fledgling market’s submission guidelines is a request for standard manuscript format in a Word doc via email or a service like Submittable. That’s how most markets I’m familiar with do it these days, and a new market that makes it easy to submit a story is more likely to get me to hit the ol’ send button.
True, these are probably things you want to think about when submit work to any market, but with new markets I think their importance is magnified some. The bottom line is I want to make sure my story is going to get a fair shake from folks who know something about writing and editing, and if I’m fortunate enough to get a story accepted, that my work is going to be well represented. If a fledgling market hits all five of my criteria (or even just the first four), I feel a lot more comfortable submitting work to them.
Now let me put my money where my mouth is and give you some fledgling genre markets I’ve sent work to in the last year. All these markets meet the criteria I listed above (more or less). Note, the last two are no longer listed as “fledgling” at Duotrope, which means they’ve stuck around for a couple of issues. That’s a good sign.