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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Astra Publications

   
Author Topic: Astra Publications
steffenwolf
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Does anyone know anything about Astra Publications? They seemed to materialize from apparently nowhere, launched 4 magazines submissions guidelines in 3 days, each with a supposedly different unknown editor but I got rejections from all of them within 30 minutes of each other today(I'm guessing they're the same person). Starting to wonder if something's fishy.

Also, they all have almost identical websites, but none of them mention the other publications. All have email addresses under the astrapublications domain name. All are rather hard to find by Googling: 3 have common phrases for names (nth Dimension, Desert Rose, and Pulp Fic). The 4th name isn't one I thought was common, but after doing a search apparently it is (Atomic Squirrel).

Any thoughts?


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snapper
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Don't know what to make of this Dave. According to Duotrope, the longest response of all four was three days. I also noticed that they all have small ads for self-publishing services (a front?). They do have four different editors, with very common names. Googling them didn't indicate any ties to publishing, writing, or speculative fiction at all.

The rates are attractive, but the guidelines vague (nothing on previously published material, for example).

Very preplexing.


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steffenwolf
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The markets have each begun listing on Duotrope over the last 3 days, so the 3 days max just reflects their short duration of existence.

Someone pointed out to me they have a Facebook page which lists 7 upcoming publications, they just haven't all made it onto Duotrope yet.

Even stranger, the 7 are not mutually exclusive. There are 2 dedicated to SF (Readshift and nth Dimension) only with very vague guidelines in both. If you're going to risk money starting up a magazine, why start two that are essentially identical? Why not put all the stories in one SF magazine instead?

And ReadShift is taking pre-orders for issue #1 at $20 a pop, available in january, despite the fact that they just opened for submissions 3 days ago. That's gutsy to name a price on a product of which you can't vouch for the quality yet (if they JUST opened for submissions, I doubt they've picked all the stories for the issue).


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Osiris
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I get three or four different companies when I google them. Got a link?
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snapper
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Just sent one of them a submission at 3:30. Let's see what happens.
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tchernabyelo
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I'm normally keen to support and push new markets, but their sudden plethora of pro-paying annual or semi-annual products seems a very, very peculiar business plan. I may sub something that's been rejected pretty much everywhere else but they aren't going to the top of my list until and unless the situation becomes clearer.
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snapper
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It's been over 30 minutes. Which means they like my writing better than yours I guess Dave.
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steffenwolf
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Osiris--Oops, I did forget a link:
http://www.astrapublications.com/

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steffenwolf
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Snapper--
No, they didn't send a rejection 30 minutes after I sent the story.

I'd sent them 5 stories over the past 3 days. And today, I got all 5 rejections within 30 minutes of EACH OTHER. Which would make sense if they were edited by the same person who had just sat down for his lunch break and read a bunch of slush, but each site has a different editor's name on it, so that is just one oddity that stacks up with the rest of the oddities to make me question their legitimacy.


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SteveR
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It is definitely odd. It would make more sense, if they were purely a scam, to accept stories from lots of folks, take as many preorders as they could from said folks and their families, then abscond. That doesn't seem to be what's happening. The ones I looked at pay on publication, which would lend itself to such a scheme. However, it's also pretty common among legit markets (including Triangulation, which I edit) so I can't say that's definitive proof of anything.

Definitely keep an eye out. I sent Atomic Chipmunk something today.


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pdblake
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That link looks like something that pops up when the site you're looking for no longer exists, like when a search engine sits on a defunked URL.

Looks dodgy. Think I'll avoid them for now.


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steffenwolf
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Someone on Facebook said they emailed Preditors and Editors and the response was:
"They're probably clueless and in for a shock. Most likely won't last beyond two months.

"Of course, you could be right that it's a scam because they want pre-orders ...when there's no real product as yet."


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skadder
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I would avoid it. That 5c a word sure looks like good eatin' cheese to any hungry mouse...
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Osiris
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Yes, this looks very very questionable. I'd stay away.
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Pyre Dynasty
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This thing is swimming in red flags, whether they are newbies or scammers doesn't matter to me, I prefer not to work with either.

I found this line pretty disturbing, "Interested in starting your own professional fiction magazine? Let us show you how." I think it might be a clue to the root of this.


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Brendan
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Are we sure that the site is safe? Google has it as untested. Does anyone know how to test the site?
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SteveR
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There is some information at http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=160729

It doesn't sound like a scam, actually. It doesn't sound like something that will work in the marketplace either. I hope he proves us wrong.

It's definitely been good for spurring water cooler discussions.


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skadder
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There are now ten publications listed for Astra.

Ralan are investigating it.


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snapper
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Got my rejection. Very polite, very quick, very chummy. Makes me believe he didn't even look at it, especially since I sent them a submission that was 25 words over their very strict word count, one they promised they would check.

Waiting to see if my spam box gets an influx of mail now.


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skadder
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I think SteveR works for Astra
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SteveR
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Nope, just your run of the mill idealist who would rather cut the guy some slack until he actually proves to be a scammer than speculate that he is one right out of the gate. If I had the money available I'd do something similar (not 10 pubs, but one or two pro-paying top notch markets to give back something to the field I care about). There's no indication that that's what these folks are doing, mind you, but there's also only circumstantial evidence at this point that they aren't.

That said, skepticism is called for with any new market, and if anyone does have actual evidence of misconduct, please share widely and well. We need to watch out for each other. Frankly I'd be a lot more suspicious if these markets were accepting a bunch of trunk stories as soon as they opened. So far they seem selective (two accepts, I saw somewhere), which is what I would expect for a pro-paying market.

You're probably right about this group, but not necessarily right. Time will tell.


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tchernabyelo
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The Duotrope stats for these markets are... odd. Atomic Chipmunk reports two acceptances, Desert Rose one, Pulp-Fic none, yet the "people accepted by this market also sold stories to..." details show on Pulp-Fic as well as the others. Certainly someone has "sold" to both Desert Rose and Atomic Chipmunk, and this person has apparently also sold to an odd range of other markets varying from Champagne Books (a Canadian small press) through to the Asia Literary Review.

F would not advise anyone to submit to these "markets" until there is a great deal more clarity about what Astra Publications are really doing.


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SteveR
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Yep, that's a good observation. More clarity is certainly needed.

I'm not writing them off yet, but am definitely suspicious.


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SteveR
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I purchased the sample book from Atomic Chipmunk ($2.90 for ten stories was not a huge deal). The order was filled within an hour and the stories are quite legit, including fiction from Aaron Polson and Gary Cuba. It's an anthology put out by Kasma Magazine, with authors paid a minimal amount ($10 per story, including online pub and anthology rights). It's not something I want to recommend widely, but it's a legit product, at least.

Wanted to get a sense of the types of stories this market recommends. This doesn't prove the market is going to survive, but I do think it goes a little way toward showing it has decent intentions. Looks like they've accepted 3 stories so far, which is pretty typical (3-4% accept rate). Time will tell. Keep eyes open.


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skadder
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I speculate if someone is a scammer or incompetent before I hand over money or rights. To wait until they prove to be one or the other seems illogical--isn't that the point of intelligence? You look at the evidence you have and extrapolate a likely future.

The evidence (m'lord):

1) 10 publications all with high rates of pay.

2) Established magazines with great reputations are folding or struggling.

3) Various editors are named in this venture...yet it appears to be a single person behind all the mags in reality.

4) No explanation of the business model--I admit you don't need to feel secure just to buy a copy, but if you sub--they may accept and tie up your story contractually for a few years while the magazine sits doing nothing. Recent new mags I have seen explain how they plan to make the venture sustainable to alay authors concerns (and they are only a single title!).

The magazine you (SteveR) bought appears to be his previous venture, but it is one thing to produce something with $10 a story rate, quite another to produce 10 mags with pro-rates. I appreciate you are a magazine editor and so may feel a kinship with said dude, but he is going about it all wrong, isn't he?

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited September 01, 2010).]


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SteveR
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This sounds a little like the criticism that made the rounds when Asimov's was announced. It would never last, they were just stealing his name to make a quick buck, etc. George Scithers? He's just a semi-pro editor.

I don't disagree with the points you make. I do, however, reserve judgment until we have actual evidence one way or the other. Time will tell.

If you do sell a story to one of these markets, certainly review the contract carefully to make sure rights revert to you if the piece is not published within a reasonable time frame. That should be standard practice.

Seller beware :-)


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skadder
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I agree, but Asimov's was ONE magazine! Not ten all at once!

Also the data points of evidence that you are advising us to wait for--I assume--are the corpses of other writers (writers who embrace risk) who have been cast from Astra's cliffs by the publishing God hidden in clouds up there. Of course, I admit, it's possible the writers may soar into the sky...but you take my point--you're waiting to see how it goes with others first.

Me too.

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited September 01, 2010).]


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SteveR
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Sure. I think the best evidence will be when one of us sells a piece to one of these markets and gets a first hand glimpse into whatever is going down. I really don't see these magazines as having the power to shoot down a career, but it's always possible, I guess. It wouldn't be the first writer to sell a story to a pro-paying market only to see the market fold.
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skadder
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I'll be happy when someone gets a cheque. An acceptance is meaningless until that happens.


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PB&Jenny
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Well I just got the nicest rejection letter from the 'Desert Rose' one. There actually was someone behind the curtain.
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skadder
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Interestingly, there are now only eight publications listed--a few days ago there were 10 listed.

Perhaps he is selling the publications/websites...or perhaps he accepted stories before 'folding' the mags (who owns the stories?)--who knows. I am not saying he did anything nefarious, but in a vacuum of knowledge, and with markets cropping up and disappearing in a week or so, I would be wary even subbing.

Some interesting smoke and mirrors uncovered here.

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited September 05, 2010).]


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Brendan
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Interesting post Skadder. One of the people commented stating that three out of four stories appear on a particular author's website, yet when in the magazine, there are three different authors. Could it be a case of that author is the co-owner of the magazine, having responded to the help to start a magazine?

In some ways, that isn't a bad way to go - if you can get the readership, the credibility will follow. And paying pro rates is one way to hasten better stories into (potential large volumes of) slush pile. However, without the connections to the current industry, credibility may be slower, and the operation will therefore be higher risk.


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snapper
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Sounds like a crafty but dishonest way to build your resume.

Dear Agent,

Please consider my novel...
...my work has been accepted by professional publications like 'Atomic Chipmunk, nth dimension, LightSpeed...


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tchernabyelo
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Curioser and curioser... according to duotrope, "people" who had work accepted by nth Dimension also had work accepted by Asimov's, ANalog, Shimmer, Brain Harvest, Futurismic and Expanded Horizons.

Frankly, I am very very sceptical about this. Looks to me as if someone is actually reporting false acceptances to duotrope (note that the overall acceptance on nth dimension is still showing as 0%, which means the acceptances are being discarded, which duotrope do if the individual in question has an "unrealistic" acceptance/rejection ratio). So they are trying to game duotrope, but not doing it all that well.

I would very much like whoever is behind all this to go away and stop playing stupid games.


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LDWriter2
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I've heard of nth Dimension and sent one story to them. Seems like it took a day or two to get a rejection back. Could have been two hours. Adams over at Lightspeed has been as quick or maybe even faster.

But the strange thing is that I'm sure I saw it listed on ralan.com. A day or two later when I went back to double check their guidelines I couldn't find it. I figured I saw it some where else but now maybe I should shoot Ralan a note and ask.

And I didn't read every note here but if no one else has done it I think I can send Gary Cuba a note to ask him about the anthology.


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skadder
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And now they have gone! Hope they didn't take anyone's story with them...
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snapper
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Update...

http://www.duotrope.com/recentupdates.aspx

I suggest you scroll down to the Fiction Market Update section.

Do you think this will be the last we hear of Astra?

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited September 09, 2010).]


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cubagw
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I noticed my name was referenced a couple of times in this thread, so I thought I'd register on the forum and reply.

I recently sold a story to Alex Korovessis, ed. of Kasma SF. It appeared in their issue 1.75 on Sept 1, which I believe was their 4th published (quarterly) issue. My dealings with Mr. K were top-notch, and I was paid promptly. Apparently, my story was immediately incorporated into their annual compilation pdf (which was one of the several rights he'd purchased with the original story payment, per our contract terms).

Naturally, I was a bit saddened to see the Kasma SF website disappear so quickly after my story appeared there. I truly hope that is only temporary, and that Kasma SF remains viable.

Incidentally, I know of one person (not me) who recently received a refund the other day on a pdf he ordered--I assume that was the Kasma annual collection, but I don't know if he ordered it through Kasma SF or from Atomic Chipmunk (or whatever the heck that new Astra pub was called). He'd not even requested the refund, it just "showed up" in his account.

Gary


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SteveR
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I also received a refund for the anthology, which I purchased via Atomic Chipmunk. I didn't request a refund. I did submit a story to Kasma once and recall the rejection to be very warm and personable. I'm sorry to see his ambitious project fall by the wayside so quickly.

I'm heartened, however, by the number of high quality paying markets we've seen open this year. May they find a way to persist. I trust we will support their efforts (monetarily and word of mouth) to the extent we are able.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Thank you, Gary, for coming here and adding information to this topic.
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cubagw
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In all this business about Astra and etc, I can't help but think of Robt Browning: "Ah, but a man's reach exceed his grasp,
or what's a heaven for?"

May we all follow our personal bliss and reap the fruits we seek.

Gary


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snapper
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Congrats on the sale, Gary. It is nice to know that a real person benefited from a sale. I'm sure you could see why we were all skeptical.

Anyway, welcome to hatrack.


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LDWriter2
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So can I assume from what Gary said, that if they do come back, we can go ahead and send in stories.

Of course it would probably only matter if they bought one of our stories. Even when we weren't sure of them they seemed to have the same judgement on writing as any other pro market.


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skadder
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I think there was some craftiness going on. He was publishing his girlfriend's stuff under a variety of names (according to an absolute write thread) as well as few other bits of 'smoke and mirrors'.

I don't dispute that they dealt with Gary perfectly with regards his story and the original magazine, but that wasn't pro-paying (from what I hear).


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LDWriter2
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Skadder, You could very well be right about the craftiness.

I know of one market, even though I can't think of the name, where the main purpose was as an outlet for the creator's writing but he let others join him, with pay.

But there's another one where I wondered if the main reason was so the market's creator could have a place to publish his own writing but this guy didn't say it like the first one.

I hope that last made sense.

But what is a "an absolute write thread" ?


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cubagw
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Louis, see this:

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=189989

I only responded about my recent dealings with Kasma SF, a token-paying market that has been publishing for a year now--all of which predated the sudden proliferation of the "Astra Publications" spinoffs. They are gone now, and likely will not reappear. In any case: Let the seller beware--as has been the theme of this thread.

Gary


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Elan
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If they are a US company, you could do a little more research by checking the Better Business Bureau.
I don't have time in the moment to confirm this as a fact, but I believe their online website is www.bbb.org

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LDWriter2
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quote:
Louis, see this:
http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=189989

I only responded about my recent dealings with Kasma SF, a token-paying market that has been publishing for a year now--all of which predated the sudden proliferation of the "Astra Publications" spinoffs. They are gone now, and likely will not reappear. In any case: Let the seller beware--as has been the theme of this thread.

Gary



Thanks, haven't heard of that one. For some reason I was thinking of sometype of saying or some such.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited September 15, 2010).]


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tchernabyelo
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quote:
I know of one market, even though I can't think of the name, where the main purpose was as an outlet for the creator's writing but he let others join him, with pay.

I am always very cautious about markets that print material by their own editorial staff. There are cases where it works (in some cases, the material was sold to the market before the writer joined the staff - I know this happened with Howard Jones at Black Gate and I think with Jude-Marie Green at Abyss & Apex) but early in my subbing career I came across a market that not only published material by its editors under their own names, but also published material by an editor under a pseudonym, and that felt completely wrong to me.


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Owasm
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If a market pays for stories and publishes them and the owners throw in their work, I don't have any problem with that.

However, I look at the market as a vanity market. I wouldn't have a problem submitting if their turnaround time was reasonable.

Accepting stories and not publishing them and/or not paying for accepted stories is a different matter.


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