Story for Young Readers
In a response to an open plea from a youth-oriented SF magazine’s editor, I wrote a story about a boy and the alien that possessed his brother. Not the most original of ideas, but it was for kids. As I wrote, new twists on old ideas came to me and found their way to the page. Now I have two problems.
First, the story is too long for the market that inspired it. The market caps at 2000 words and this story is just over 2300. I could probably cut a few hundred words if I wanted to, but I’m pretty sure it would weaken the story. After all, it’s not the plot that’s special, it’s the relationship between the brothers (even though one of them is not technically there).
Then there’s the other problem: I think this story is too good to start with this particular market. This market offers only token payment and will have minimal exposure value. I like the market and the people who run it, but I am trying to establish myself as a professional.
I may try the story in some non-genre youth-oriented publications, maybe Boys’ Life or Cricket. I need to look up their guidelines first. I may also try Black Gate (though I think they may be closed to submissions right now) or some other zines that insist their demographic begins with preteens. It might prove a futile endeavor, but it would be a shame to sell a story for pennies when it might have been worth something.
I’ll probably drop it in the Critters queue while I wait for responses. I’m having some trouble with the title: “Brother Goo or Why I Threw My Brother in the Ocean” is what I have right now. Old school “or” format. Unfortunately I feel like the first sounds like mucus and the second gives away too much. I may just try “Brother Goo” and see how it is received. Look at that, I made a decision right here in the middle of my blog and you were here to witness it. Momentous.
UPDATE: I checked out some of those guidelines. Boys’ Life has a 1500-word limit. Cricket‘s is 2000. I went back through the story and trimmed it down to 1990 (the last cut I made was a full paragraph). I probably could have left a little more in there. I’ll reread the cut version in a few days, after it’s filtered out of my memory some, then maybe send it to Cricket. It could still make the rounds of the standard genre magazines, but Analog won’t be likely to touch it. I’ll probably stick to semi-pro markets outside the youth-oriented zines. Time will tell how it all works out.