A couple of times in recent months, I've seen sf writers say that they don't submit to Asimov's. If you're such a writer, I recommend reconsidering. For a few reasons, one of them brand new:
- The new reason is that Asimov's now takes electronic submissions. Writers from outside the US no longer have to deal with expensive and inconvenient postal options! Writers from anywhere can now avoid the hassle of printing, and finding stamps and envelopes, and so on. Super convenient! My impression was that this was the biggest obstacle for some writers, and it's now gone.
- It's probably better for your career to be published in Asimov's than in any other sf publication. In the 2009 Hugo Awards, six of the fifteen short-fiction nominees were from Asimov's; no other venue had more than two stories on the list. That's not a fluke; with a few exceptions (including this year), that's pretty much the way the Hugo nominees have been for a couple of decades. The Nebulas tend to lean more toward F&SF, but Asimov's tends to be reasonably well represented there as well.
- They're one of the few remaining pro-paying sf magazines that take stories over ten thousand words long.
There are, of course, lots of factors to consider in deciding where to send your work. If you've figured out what factors are most important to you, and Asimov's doesn't make the top of your list of venues ranked by those factors, I'm not gonna tell you to change your list.
But I'm hoping that the change to considering e-subs will shift Asimov's to higher on some writers' lists.
Here are some thoughts on a couple of other factors:
Their average response time, while not as low as it was a few years back, is nonetheless a little better than SH's. Neither magazine is anywhere close to the best response times; Clarkesworld, for example, has an astonishing average response time of two to three days, and F&SF averages about two weeks. (Both of those venues, btw, are also high on my list of places worth submitting to, but that's another entry.)
Pay: Asimov's pays 6¢/word to new writers, up to 7,500 words; 5¢/word for stories over 12,500 words. That's a little better than SH, and significantly better than non-pro-rate venues. It's not as good as Clarkesworld's 10¢/word up to 4,000 words (and 5¢/word up to 8,000 words)—but again, Asimov's considers longer work.
Visibility: This is a tough one. I hear writers say that being published online means your work will be seen by more people than if it appears in some stodgy old print magazine that nobody reads. The problem with that idea is that there's no good way to measure readership for online venues that don't require payment/subscriptions. Despite the declining circulation of the print prozines, I would venture a guess that more people are regular readers of them than are regular readers of any of the online magazines. (With the possible exception of the podcast magazines.) Also note that the print prozines are available in electronic form these days; Sheila Williams says that the Kindle circulation of Asimov's is up to 4,000 these days, which by itself is, I suspect, a higher readership than most online venues. But we can't know for sure.
To close, here are a couple more notes about the new electronic submissions system:
SF Signal has an interview with Sheila Williams about the new system. Turns out the main force behind the change is that Sheila's more comfortable reading from an e-reader screen than she was from a regular computer screen. This is kind of a variation on what I always figured was going to lead to more editors being comfortable reading electronic submissions; I thought the key was going to be screen resolution, but it turns out to instead be the look and feel of electronic ink.
I should add that Asimov's (like Clarkesworld) is even more flexible than SH in their submissions system; they take .doc files as well as .rtf files. And their submission form (modeled on that of Clarkesworld) is a model of simplicity and nice layout, unlike ours.
As with any magazine, you really really need to read their guidelines before submitting.