I had a short article appear in Locus, the trade magazine for science fiction and fantasy. Locus provides market reports, market updates, convention reports, interviews and reviews.
The article was a recap of HawaiiCon 2017. It ran just shy of 250 words long and they included four photos with it. I think I only sent four. To my surprise, I had a byline! There was no pay, but a byline is nice. I wasn’t expecting either.
(The online magazine is behind a paywall, and I don’t have my hardcopy yet. When I get it, I’ll try to post a .pdf of the article.)
This was a nice learning experience, and I’m not being sarcastic. First of all, this was closer to journalism than fiction or essay-writing. Secondly, I actually queried them, which is not something I do regularly. Granted, it wasn’t a fancy query, basically this:
- Would you like a ___-word article on (subject)? [HawaiiCon] (In fact, putting an upper word limit might be a mistake. It would have been easy for them to say, “500 words? Eeek! No!” and stop there.)
- Why the subject would interest you (Science track, writers who attended)
- My writing experience and a link to Fantasy Literature.
Their reply was that they could not do 500 words, but they would look at something about 250 words. The first draft I’d written wasn’t 500 words long. It was about 350, and it wouldn’t seem like cutting 100 words would be that hard. It was more difficult than I expected.
The first thing I had to let go of was any desire for personal style. This wasn’t an essay or a story. It didn’t need a “narrative voice;” it needed clarity. It needed facts, with important facts toward the front of the article.
I did realize that I wasn’t going to write a comprehensive review of the Con in 250 words, and many things like the wonderful resort hotel, etc, weren’t going to get much mention. Let me rephrase that; any mention. In the end I focused on the writing track and the science track, and I was able to include that the Con opens with a traditional native blessing. My opening paragraph, while including the facts that HawaiiCon is primarily a media con, stressed that Nnedi Okorafor was the Writer Guest of Honor.
When I sent it in, I didn’t hear anything for a couple of weeks and I assumed that they had rejected it, or were going to. As it turns out, the November issue is not jammed with convention information, so I don’t think I had a lot of competition.
Once I did hear, things went pretty quickly. The Locus editorial crew were easy to work with. They contacted me to see if I could send them larger-sized photos, and I did. The day of their deadline I got a frantic e-mail because they couldn’t open one of them—but I was away from my computer. It was all right; they figured out a way to open it. And there it is in the article.
So, another positive experience with editing. And a byline. WhooHoo!