Market Monday: Digital Science Fiction

Digital Science Fiction (part of Digital Fiction Publishing Corp.) is the first pro-paying market to print one of my works. That by itself is reason for me to be grateful to them; but that’s not why I’m recommending them to you. (Unfortunately they’re closed to all but flash submissions at the moment, but keep an eye on their submission status! Reprints only at this time.)

No, the reason why I recommend Digital SF and the whole Digital family is a two-word answer: Michael Wills.

Michael is the publisher, and he has a strong sense of personal and business ethics. His contracts are some of the most author-friendly that I have seen. (In fact, he had three pro authors help draft them.) But most important… When he started Digital, it was a pro-paying original market (a series of anthologies, essentially a magazine). He made his wife a promise: he would give the magazine a fair shot, but it had to be self-supporting. He would pay for it from internet ads and from sales of the anthology, but not a dime would come from the family budget. Before he would let that happen, he would shut it down.

And when the time came that it wasn’t self-supporting, that’s exactly what he did: he shut it down. He paid all creditors. He returned all rights for all stories he had “bought” but not yet published. He closed it down owing nothing to anyone, and keeping his promise to his wife. Digital survived, selling back issues and a few small novel projects, but the magazine was gone. He handled the whole thing honorably, and I never hesitated to tell people: Digital was my first pro sale, and Michael is a good man.

Then a little over a year ago, things changed, and Michael came up with a new business model to revive Digital Science Fiction: reprints only, published as online shorts, then collected into anthologies. It seems to be going better. Digital has been producing a lot of works.

But, oh, reprint only except for one thing: Michael went back to every one of the authors who had sold him stories that he had had to return and said, “If first rights for that story are still available, I would still like to pay you and print it.” He didn’t have to do that, but it was the honorable thing to do. These authors went through a sadly common experience: the thrill of selling a story, then the disappointment of the market closing before the check arrived and the story appeared. It’s a sad thing, but it happens. Only this time, Michael made it up to them.

So that’s three different actions that convinced me that Michael Wills is an honorable publisher: the author-friendly contracts, the promise kept to his wife, and going back to buy the stories he hadn’t been able to buy before. I trust this man, and I recommend this market.

Oh, and if he happens to reopen for originals, I’ll add three more words to my reasons to submit to Digital: Christine Clukey Reece, who edited the original anthologies, and who I hope will edit future original works for Digital. She was my first pro editor, and I didn’t know what to expect. She suggested only five changes: a couple of paragraph breaks added, a break removed, and a couple of word changes. And every single one of her changes made my protagonist’s voice sound more like the voice in my head. She picked up on what I was trying to do, and she found the places where I had failed to do it. Christine kinda spoiled me for future editors, and I will happily work with her in the future if I get the chance.

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