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Bewildering Stories

Scheduling in the First Quarter

by Don Webb

The following may tell you more than you really want to know, but we like to keep procedures transparent at BwS. We need to talk about serialized works and their effect on the rest of our regular issues.

Veteran readers and contributors will notice that the first quarter makes a striking departure from our customary scheduling. Our on-line schedule will be top-heavy with serialized works: two novels and two novellas.

As a rule, we schedule only one novel at at time, and it is normally accompanied at most by one novella or one serial. Why the departure from our customary practice?

Submissions tend to come in cycles, and we have to adjust accordingly. In the third and fourth quarters of 2015 we received an unusual number of long works: novels, novellas, serials and multiple-page short stories. When several freight trains come into the yard at the same time, what happens to the passenger trains? We shall see...

Bertrand Cayzac’s Floozman in Space will probably conclude before the end of the first quarter. Since the story is episodic, serialization does it favours. And the translation is done “on the fly” with the author’s generous help. That’s why it has been proceeding at a stately, unhurried pace.

But what shall we do with Elous Telma’s Oikos Nannion, Terry L. Mirll’s “Karat Cake” and Bruce Pavalon’s “Space Girl Blues”? We want those works to have a home at BwS. It seems unfair to make them wait till the second quarter. And, if we start one of them in the first quarter, how do we choose which it shall be: flip a three-sided coin?

We can’t put long works on line all at once; there’s too much editing and formatting involved. And who would read a big chunk all at once? We like to think that our weekly publication offers a practical compromise and keeps readers coming back.

As for continuity, the Tables of Contents cross-link all current pages; new readers can easily start from the beginning and proceed without interruption. Likewise, veteran readers can backtrack to any point in the story by following only two links: the Table of Contents itself and the chapter or part number.

Is serialization in Bewildering Stories an alternative to e-books? Yes, once the serial is complete. The only difference is that you need a Net connection. And you can’t swipe from page to page; you have to tap the “Proceed” link. But how hard is that? Consider it a money-saving gesture.

Our pages have a 3,000-word limit because readers don’t like to scroll, and they have a hard time keeping their place in an on-screen text. For that reason, the works serialized in the first quarter will proceed one page at a time to the extent necessary. And there’s another reason, as well:

Since we have an informal limit of eleven pages per issue, serials tend to steamroller other prose in the schedule. As a consequence, the outlook for short stories and flash fiction in the first quarter is constrained but not bleak. We may have at most three single-page stories in an issue. If one of them runs more than 3,000 words, the number of titles will probably be reduced to two. Poetry and short poetry won’t be affected so much; they’re relatively easy to edit and format.

In practice, then, the on-line shorter-prose schedule will become somewhat more fluid in the first quarter than it has been in the past, at least for a few weeks. And that’s why the “Outlook” says, at this writing, that short stories are “open” in March; that’s when they’re likely to be scheduled at the moment. And that is not out of the ordinary.

Take heart for short stories and flash fiction, and please keep sending. We’re clearing the tracks for you.

Don Webb
Managing Editor
Bewildering Stories

date Copyright January 4, 2016 by Bewildering Stories

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