Jason Sanford

Introduction to the Million Writers Award

More than three years ago, I started storySouth in the belief that a quality literary journal could exist completely online and still make an impact on literature equal to that of print publications. After all, it wasn't the medium that people cared about but the writing. If storySouth published great stories, people would soon know this.

This worked to a large degree. Our journal has experienced a continually growing readership, and our stories have been selected for various honors. However, despite publishing what I believe to be the best fiction on the internet, storySouth ran up against one big problem: Many people still believed that online publishing isn't as legitimate as anything that is printed on actual paper.

This attitude really reared its head in a conversation I had with the editor of one of the yearly "best short stories" anthologies. When I approached him about considering some of storySouth's fiction for his next anthology, he replied that while storySouth looked great and published (in his words) very good fiction, he couldn't consider anything in our journal. Basically, he didn't consider storySouth to be a real publication.

I pointed out to him that storySouth had an editorial process equal to that of print literary journals, that we published many of the same authors who also found homes in print journals, and that we had a far greater distribution than most print journals (which usually only publish between 500 and a 1,000 copies per issue). None of these points carried any weight with him.

So as the old saying should go: If you can't join them, beat them. The storySouth Million Writers Award for best online fiction of the year will help all internet-based journals and magazines gain exposure and attention. In addition, the award will help the winning story find more readers than it would ever have known by being in one of the year's best anthologies (see the rules for more information on how this works.)

Great stories are being published online, and I hope you will use this award as a starting off point to learning more about the online fiction realm. Read the stories. Check out the magazines and journals. And if you ever run into those "best of" editors, let them know how much they are missing by ignoring the online world of stories.

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Jason Sanford is the fiction editor of storySouth. His fiction has been awarded a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship and been published in a number of literary journals. He is also a three-time judge of the Minnesota Book Awards, most recently in 2003 when he judged the fiction category.

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