Why Plan B?

The Short Story:

The mystery/crime short fiction market is tiny and still based on paper magazine sales. It’s time to bring mystery stories into the 21st century.

The Long:

I am a writer, who mainly works in the Science Fiction genre. I write other things, too, but SF is where I began and it’s where I’ve done most of my short fiction submissions.

A few years back, the state of the science fiction and fantasy short fiction marketplace was abysmal. Magazines were folding right left and centre, and there were hardly any markets left for new writers to approach. People were, rightfully, worried.

But then, an amazing thing happened. Individuals and small groups of writers and readers began to use the new exciting internet technologies to create new markets. I particularly remember when Escape Pod started – they were using the newfangled podcasting fad to share SFF stories for free in audio form. Lots of people thought it was crazy, and it kind of was. But it worked. Listeners donated in order to help EP pay their authors, and over time those pay rates rose. Today, Escape Pod is a pro market and one of many quality online SF markets.

I am sure that there is no coincidence that the SFF community was among the first to embrace new distribution for fiction. SFF readers are, generally, pretty tech-savvy folks. But in 2013, many readers are using electronic reading tools. For example, for the week of January 10, 2013, 8 of the top 10 on USA Today’s Best-Selling Books List sold more ebooks than hard copies. Electronic text is no longer just the province of a few early adopters. But the mystery and thriller short fiction market just hasn’t caught up.

I believe that mystery readers want access to diverse, high quality short fiction. Short stories are, in some ways, ideal for ebook readers – you can finish one on a commute or a lunch break, you can dip in and out of a magazine or anthology. The problem is just one of matching the writers with the readers. And that’s what Plan B is for.


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