by Don Webb
Alison McBain, our Reviews Editor, sends some interesting news. It’s always nice to be rated highly in popularity, especially in an annual poll of such long standing as that of Preditors and Editors.
Bewildering Stories is in the “Fiction ’Zine” category and, glory be, the “Zine Editors,” as well:
Our thanks to Preditors and Editors and to all who voted for us!
I have a few thoughts on the process and can offer our contributors and editors alike some practical advice.
First, the process. I’ve never known quite what to make of Preditors and Editors, for a number of reasons:
P&E deserves a lot of credit for an ambitious project. The managers do their best to keep the categories organized, but there are so many that visitors may feel they’re searching for friends scattered in the throngs of a very large shopping mall. How can so much information be made easily readable? There may be no easy answer to that question.
Considering the large number of ties in the rankings, one has to wonder about the participation. How many votes were cast? Are “ties” exact or approximate?
When the electorate is the public at large, on-line polls can lead to ballot-box stuffing, and that prospect can deter participation. P&E ensures fairness by counting only the last vote from the same address in the same category. That prevents anyone from accumulating votes on the same topic.
However, the question of campaigning remains. How many friends and relatives can nominees summon to their cause? Or how many e-mail accounts does one have access to? That problem arose in the Contests we held in earlier years. We had to resort to separate voter categories: one poll for the public and another for the editors.
For that reason, our Quarterly and Annual Reviews are not public popularity contests. The best of Bewildering Stories is chosen by a Review Board of accomplished writers. They take their responsibility very seriously, and any of them can tell you that the Managing Editor treats their votes accordingly. That’s why the Reviews are styled as “lighthouses on the chaotic sea of the Internet.”
Now, the practical advice. Bewildering Stories has no objection to our authors’ self-promotion. Quite the contrary; it’s a rare treat if anyone else does it for you. And word of mouth advertising is the best there is.
We consider excerpts as a valid substitute for reviews, which are very hard to come by. We encourage veteran contributors to send us excerpts of works in print or e-books. And excerpts have the same format as reviews.
Whenever you have a story or poem published in a regular issue or, especially, a Quarterly or Annual review, post a link to it on all your social media. Or, if you happen to frequent a forum, such as Analog’s or Asimov’s, please feel free to post a link to the page — the Readers’ Guide or a Review — on which your work appears. The advertising is good not only for you but for Bewildering Stories as well.
Remember: for prose fiction or essays, the work’s “description” meta-tag is all-important. Readers don’t see the description tag on the page proper, but it appears in social media and in searches. The tag gives readers a concise but general idea of the content.
Again, P&E deserves credit for trying to give us a sense of what the Internet is doing. That may be a hopeless task. However, Bewildering Stories offers refuge as a large “island” — perhaps even a small continent — on that “chaotic sea.” As the saying goes, “The natives are friendly.” We welcome visitors and encourage you to spread the word.
Copyright © 2017 by Don Webb
for Bewildering Stories