Tor recently released a statement that as of January 7th, 2016, they will no longer be accepting unsolicited submissions to their short fiction online journal.
This decision really does mark the end of open submissions in big speculative fiction short markets. There are still MANY journals, of some renown (Here is a link to the SFWA qualifying markets for short fiction.), that still take unsolicited submissions, but Tor was definitely a giant among them. Well, the giant’s gate is closed! At least, for short fiction. Now, Tor/Forge still has open submissions for long fiction and artwork. But, with the decision to close up the short fiction submissions, I think it is fair to speculate that the long fiction submissions might eventually follow suit–sooner than later.
I do have to question whether or not this decision is a signal to something greater in the speculative markets. Technically, considering the size and success of Tor, it was unprecedented that they kept open submissions for as long as they did. (It, undoubtedly, was a task and a half for their slush readers.) However, I can already see the choruses of independent short fiction authors–whom, for the most part, do not have any representation within their field, but instead carry the total weight of their career on their own–put up their hackles in light of this. With this turn it most likely feels like, to indie writers, that another gate has been closed, they are being pushed into self-pub even more by an establishment publishing industry, and, just over all, this is another example of the publishing field not being an even playing field. Meaning, only established, agent/editor represented authors have a shot.
Should indie writers be really getting their hackles up? Does this bode for less options for them? Should they be shouting “publishing elitists” with this move? …I don’t think so. I think this move by Tor was the right move. There are still plenty of big markets for the indie writer with concerns that they are being locked out. In truth, Tor wasn’t publishing all that many unsolicited authors these last few years. This move was an inevitable, and a reality; they ‘re just now making it transparent.
This is simply Tor making the right choice for their model. They are a big publisher. They get mountains of submissions. I don’t think the unsolicited submission system was workable for them in the long run. However, as I said, there are many other markets where their publishing platform is better suited to open submission.
I don’t know…what are your thoughts? Is this egregious? Disappointing? Understandable?