As Futurismic‘s editor, my interest in this question should be obvious; but it’s also of great interest to the aspiring writer in me as well. I write because I want to write but – in common with a lot of other writers – I’d quite like to get paid for my fiction some day. [image by Thomas Hawk]
So who’s going to give me (or other more competent, imaginative and disciplined writers) money for stories? Well, fellow Flash Fictioneer Gareth D Jones tried something new and pitched a story to a magazine that doesn’t usually run short stories, and had it accepted – his second professional-grade sale, in fact. So perhaps the closest new markets are the markets no one has even tried yet.
Another market, already being tentatively explored, is the one that lies on the blurry boundary between fiction writing and sales copy. For example, the car company Lexus recently commissioned a collaboratively written novel focusing on a young couple taking a journey in their new vehicle – the brand of said vehicle should be easy enough for you to guess.
While that story has the queasy taste of naked commerce to it, I think younger writers will be less bothered by it. We live in an ad-saturated world, and most media-consumers have a certain degree of skill at tuning them out. Perhaps the challenge to write branded fiction that doesn’t smack the reader round the face with its brands will develop new stylistic forms and breed a new wave of great writers.
One thing is for certain, though, and that’s the migration of short fiction online. I’m not just saying that because Futurismic does it (although we do), but because it’s the only way to economically sustain the form in a world where the overheads of print media are heading skywards like pulp fiction rocketships.
Perhaps the web will be the richest source of Gareth’s new markets – remember when we mentioned Will Hindmarch selling a story to a games and media community website? I think the style and shape of short fiction will change as a result, too – but isn’t the continual evolution of art what keeps it interesting, both to consume and to create?
Where do you think you’ll be reading (or publishing) your short stories in twenty years time?