The Dragon Wants It All

In a post at The Whatever, John Scalzi writes about a new incarnation of the magazine Dragon and how it’s trying to screw writers.

I don’t know if I’ll ever take another stab at writing, but the process is still pretty interesting to me. The basic problem with Dragon (currently owned by Wizards of the Coast, a gaming company, which is in turn owned by Hasbro) is that they want all rights for fiction they publish. This means that they own the very world it’s set in. They could have other people write stories in that world, using your characters. They could even sell the movie rights and not pay you a dime.

Scalzi has covered it pretty well. He finds that selling all the rights to your work for a pittance is a dumb, period. I’d probably be a little less vehement, but only because I don’t posses the energy he does. And maybe because I can still imagine the the thrill that would go along with getting published in something like Dragon. I’m not saying John didn’t feel that thrill the first time, I think he’s just a bit more of a pragmatist than me and lots of others.

When I was trying to get my stories published, it was like I was a fanboy for publishing. The whole magazine business seemed sort of mythical. I can easily see myself submitting works to Dragon, even knowing they took all rights. I would have tried better markets first, but I know that hope of getting into a large magazine like that would have trumped my own self interest. And ultimately I do think it’s against writers self interest to submit to a place like Dragon is now. Writers work hard at their craft, they should respect it.

I just understand why they don’t sometimes.

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