On Writing,  publishing,  Pulphouse Fiction Magazine

I Have A Publishing Belief System

Actually, a number of them…

No surprise to anyone who follows this blog, huh?

So let me explain a few of my belief systems.

Agents… Agents should pay authors what is called a “shopping agreement fee” for the right to submit their manuscript to editors.

Shopping agreements are used all the time in Hollywood and are basically a fee like $1,000 for a limited time (six months to a year) for the right to shop the work. Author keeps the money no matter if the work sells or not. (That would put some skin in the game for agents.)

The writer is the one who did the work, owns the copyright. If an agent wants to be attached to a work, they need to pay for the privilege.

Sad when Hollywood is saner than book publishing, huh?

Publishers… I believe publishers should go to authors, not always the other way around. Again, authors did the work, own the copyright. So why should any author in this new world go begging through an agent to a publisher who takes your copyright?

In this new world of indie publishing, quality writers and stories can be found by all of us a ton easier than using some form of gatekeeping.

Now short fiction is slightly different.

Nature of the magazine world. Sometimes slush piles are necessary. And they work because there are no agents in the mix.

But I hope at Pulphouse Fiction Magazine to find authors through other means than a slush pile.

I know a lot of very talented fiction writers through personal connections, reading their work in workshops, and my history around writers. And since I am a reader, and I listen to recommendations from others around me, I find a lot more writers I enjoy, but haven’t really met.

So a few people have asked why Pulphouse is not open for submissions. Because, honestly, as the editor, I believe it is my job to find the authors and their wonderful stories. And I would rather do it my way than have piles and piles of stories I have no desire to read and that won’t fit in Pulphouse anyway.

I will spend the time one way or another, either reading stories I don’t want to read or looking through the published world to find writers I like and who have a Pulphouse style of writing.

Let me say that again. I will spend the time one way or another. I have picked a different path than reading slush.

Think it through, authors. You want that as well.

You want me writing you and asking if you have a story or would write me one. When I come to you as an editor, you win, even if you don’t sell me a story.

Personal Experience…

I sold a story to The Twilight Zone Magazine which ended up in its sister publication, Night Cry Magazine. The editor there asked me for another and I wrote it and sold it to him.

An editor in New York saw that second story in Night Cry Magazine, liked it, and wrote me and asked if I had a novel. That was my first novel sale.

And never once in over a hundred novels did I have my agent sell a book for me.

More Personal Experience…

I posted a short-short story on my door at Clarion as a joke. Three months later Damon Knight asked me for it because he had seen it on my door and thought it would fit an anthology he was editing. My first pro sale.

My second pro sale was when Algis Budrys told me about a brand new contest he was involved in and wanted me to submit a story to it. He invited me personally. I sold him the story. My second professional level sale.

So authors, if you want to be in Pulphouse, keep writing, keep your stories out there in the indie world and magazine world. It’s your job to get your stories to readers.

It’s my job as the editor of Pulphouse to find you in one way or another. I have decided simply to not go the slush pile route with my time. I will find you. Far more fun for me and it will be more fun for you when I do find you.

I love this new world a bunch more than the old one, that’s for sure. But these days I am a writer first.

And as a writer first, I love the control writers now have.

We just have to take the control. And believe in our own work.

And that is yet another of my beliefs.


  • Michael R.E. Adams

    I’m curious about racial diversity. Has the recent release published writers of color? I’m just wondering because I know Kristine has sounded off on traditional publishing neglecting underserved groups, and she came back to the point after Data Guy’s presentation. Also, as a person of color I find it is something that many people in my circle ask me about when I try to promote magazines, books, and tv shows. It’s an honest inquiry. I have no judgment if the answer is no. Just wondering as I consider subscribing.

  • Anthony St. Clair

    This is fantastic. No waiting period slush pile purgatory. A tighter writer/editor relationship. What a refreshing change!

    Dean, why do you think more publications don’t use this acquisitions model? Is the open submissions/slush pile mentality just entrenched?

  • Dawn Blair

    That is the exact reason I’ve thought about curating a couple of story bundles this summer. I want to collect together writers whose work I like and that I feel is quality writing. To me, that just sounds like a lot of fun.

    I agree with your comments about the agents and publishers going to the writers. I think of Amanda Hocking, who was chased after by the publishers when it got out that she was making $10,000/month. I have to wonder if she’s still seeing that kind of money with a publisher’s contract. I honestly haven’t researched it or followed her success (or lack thereof) recently, so I can’t say. It’s tough slogging through the beginnings of being an indie, which is why you have to do it because you love it and not for any other reason.

    I do believe that a shift will come again – it always does. Publishers will have to do something to attract writers, especially as it keeps getting easier and easier to indie publish. I laugh at how fast I can do it now, compared to when I prepared my first book just 6 years ago. After that initial learning curve and setup, it’s so dang easy.

    What an exciting time to be in this industry!

  • Peggy

    I really loved Twilight Zone magazine. I read my first Dan Simmons story there, back in 1980 or so.

  • Alexis

    Dean, did you ever meet Ted Klein? That man knew everything about horror, and his books are top tier in the genre. It’s such a shame that he never finished his second novel.

  • Lou Cadle

    Radical! I like innovative thinking.

    In a sense, the publisher part of your plan is happening for indie writers. I’m in no sense a runaway success story but have been approached by four publishers of various types in the past year.( I said no, no, no, and yes.) I see no reason to have an agent. An attorney would serve me better in most situations that I can imagine arising.

    Enjoyed catching up on your posts today

  • Ken

    It might be good to remind writers to have a contract page on their website or email address for fan mail or business mail in this post (or write a post about it). There are many great writers that can be found, but can’t be contacted. This is a shame as the world needs more good writing.