Last night I sold “On the Reproductive Habits of Elves” to Sorcerous Signals, a fantasy magazine. The story will appear in May.

Sorcerous Signals is a smaller magazine, but I like their contributor-payment model. There’s a token upfront payment. Nothing special. But at the end of each story, there’s a PayPal donate button, and if enough donations are received to recoup the expenses of the magazine (just about every magazine but a few of the pros is run out of the editors’ pockets), 75% of the extra contributions are divvied up among the writers (and, I think, the artist).

Is it likely I’ll end up seeing more money from this? Probably not. The ratio of readers : readers who donate can’t be very high anywhere, and I expect the vast bulk of donations would run in the $1-5 range. But I think it’s a really, really smart thing to try. If a story ends up getting a lot of attention, there’s at least the opportunity for the magazine and the writer to be compensated. This is the sort of thing more markets should be trying. Ads and subscription fees have their place, but if you want to attract writers, you have to find a way to pay them. As a writer, I sent this story to Sorcerous Signals because they’re trying to make that happen. I’ll probably walk away from this with no more than enough to buy a meal. But the fact they’re taking a shot, that’s what won me over.

There’s almost no resistance to this particular concept, either–like a story? Well, you don’t have to try to hunt down the author’s email and contact them about sending them a check, which would feel kind of weird if you stop to think about it. Just click on this button and type in a dollar amount. Thank you very much, kind sir or lady-sir.

“On the Reproductive Habits of Elves,” by the way, was spurred by an idea I had while watching The Lord of the Rings: why can elves live so long but have so few children? What biological arrangement would lead to that outcome? A while later, I thought of a way to explore that conundrum dramatically, sat down at the keyboard, and voila. Find out the answer in a couple months.

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I am a Science Fiction and Fantasy author, based in LA. Read More.
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