FeatherPenClipArtPicking stories by well-known authors is a standard way for magazines and anthologies to get the author’s fan base in and thus increase readership. Most submission guidelines ask for a short bio and publication history, which is a clue they’re looking for writers who are well-established. However, this strategy reduces competition and caters to people who are comfortable in what they write. The result is generally a loss over time of creativity and edge in the quality of stories that appear.

Interestingly, some magazines try to maintain their integrity by carefully avoiding this kind of strategy. The clue that a magazine or anthology is avoiding favoritism is a request for blind submissions, that is, submissions where the author’s name and identifying information do not appear anywhere on the manuscript. When there’s no name, the slush pile readers have to make a decision based only on the quality of the story without being biased by the name attached to it. These magazines or anthologies generally have a policy of discovery–meaning they love to find new and emerging writers that have a singular and different voice.

Because the competition is so fierce out there in today’s market, it’s important to not only have a creative idea, but also a creative delivery. It’s true that editors are feeling that staleness creep into the SF genre, so they’re looking for freshness in the approach. I notice that many editors will take the creative idea and presentation over killer writing skills. This means it’s another important opportunity for new writers who aren’t yet steeped the the traditional tropes of science fiction. Move over for the new kids on the block!