Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I'm In

What about you?

What am I talking about?

Okay - I'll start from the begining, although it's sometimes an interesting twist to start at the end, but I digress...

Jason Sizemore over at Apex magazine has something you should all go read, and then email him your intentions. Not sure what I mean? Go read his latest efforts at making a worthwhile enterprise out of an independant publishing's magazine.

Like I said - I'm in.


  1. Not a bad plan. What I would give to be Mr. Doctorow...10K for one story?

  2. I've said it before but I guess I have to say it again. $10k a year to run a paper magazine is cheap if you're rich and doing it as a hobby. Compared to most motor sports or high level golf club membership it's barely a blip.

    Asking someone else to support your expensive hobby seems like a dead end. There's a good reason niche paper magazines are dying - there's no reason for them any more.

    BUT if you want to support one guy's $10k a year hobby then I'm currently collecting donations for my licking sherbet off cheap hookers addiction.

  3. Hold on. It is a paper magazine is it? It isn't?

    Jeeze, now I just want to see a break down of his costs that exclusively apply to Apex magazine.

  4. If we don't support the markets we like to read, then we won't have anywhere to submit our work. If it takes me $100 a year, spread around a dozen mags (all of which I can claim back on tax) to do my bit to keep my hobby (and hopefully one day more than a hobby), then so be it. I also get to continue reading great fiction.

    I don't get a lot from donating to your sherbet addiction - but good luck with that.

  5. Well okay, but then you're just back to the post you linked to a couple of weeks ago where certain magazine had more submissions than paying subscribers every month.

    Take Apex as an example - say he needs donations to cover half his cost. So that's 500 people donating $10 a year. In that year he publishes approx 4x12 stories, 48 stories. Discounting his own stories and multiple stories by the same author let's say there are 40 unique authors getting paid and getting exposure. But for those 40 to get published over ten times as many have to donate. Maybe twenty times as many depending on how much he actually needs to break even or at least to make his losses acceptable.

    The argument that you should support a loss-making, non-economically viable magazine so you can submit to it does not make rational sense, your right to hold your own opinion notwithstanding. Tax deductible is not free, remember.

    Some of those 48 stories wouldn't see the light of day anywhere else, some will make their way into anthologies or onto the web for free. These things find their own level.

    When your business model is geared around donations you really need to be doing something a whole lot more mainstream than short speculative fiction. I strongly suspect, though I have no intention of finding out, that a website involving me licking sherbet off hookers is a more economically viable model than anything being suggested over at Apex.

  6. (lickingsherbertoffhookers.com is available if anyone has been inspired...)

    Another thing. If you're going to post talking about your two failed attemtpts to monetize your magazine and you're going to ask to move to a subscription/donation model then I'd appreciate seeing the numbers that have failed so far.

    I'd really love to know what his readership numbers are.

    If you look on his site there are stories posted for free, magazines (print I presume) for eight bucks and ereader copies for two dollars a pop. The website is clearly an adjunct to his existing publishing enterprise and horribly cluttered.

    Spin the magazine off into its own distinct website for a start. Dump the print pretensions, do anything with the layout that means I don't have to scroll ten yards down the page.

    Add the ability to rate stories. Can you sign up for an account on the site to let you keep track of favourite authors and stories? You want to run a magazine these days you're really in the building a community game.

  7. I have been burned in the past by mags asking for donations to keep afloat only to fold a month later. Jason is a different animal in the publishing world. He is a survivor. I have to say, I'm in.

  8. Apex is a reputable magazine and Jason has a proven track record in providing a quality product and in promoting new talent. It is in our interests to support him.

    Writing in general is a struggle to make a dollar from, regardless of whether you're putting out a magazine or supplying the content.

    If we all said it's up to the individual market to sink or swim on their own, then we would not have places to submit our work, and be forced to self publish or settle for markets which publish anything. Settling into mediocrity doesn't allow a writer to stretch themselves and grow in the craft.

    The writing community, in general, are self supporting, with the occasional new writer breaking from the pack and grabbing a book deal. Same goes with markets. Some manage to hang in there long enough, and provide quality content, to become a staple of the community like Weird Tales or Chizine, and then they begin to gather advertising dollars and become self sustaining - but nobody starts at that level. Most don't, but I applaud those who try and I'm happy to do a little bit in trying to support that. Writing is my passion, so why wouldn't I?

    Porn sites will always make more money than just about any other site on the Net - it is an unfair comparison.

    Apex Publishing is a single entity of which the magazine is a single part. Like all publishing concerns, each department must be viable or they fall by the wayside. The magazine is a platform for genre writers and pays pro rates. There aren't many of those markets left.

    Still, I have no intention in getting into an ongoing debate (he says after writing a lengthy response). I'm sure I won't sway Anton from his POV anymore than he will sway the majority of those who have pledged their cash to help Jason.

    It is a free world after all :c)

  9. BT - hey good luck to Apex! I'm not trying to bring down the establishment, but then I'm largely blissfully unaware of it.

    Pledge your cash, but what are you actually pledging it to? The man? The magazine? The noble ideal? I didn't come here and break the news that he has two unsuccessful attempts to cover his costs, he did that in his post.

    I have no idea what the pdf version of the magazine looks like but I bet it looks fantastic, and yet hardly anybody wants to read pdf so that's wasted effort.

    The online part of the magazine that should be most accessible to the vast majority of readers is badly laid out. If he's so well-regarded and well-liked by the community, why has no-one told him this?

    The stories posted in November have a bunch of trackbacks and one comment so far. The October stories posted online have a total of three comments under one story and some trackbacks. Perhaps the majority of the feedback he receives is old school in the form of hand-written letters. Or word simply isn't getting out that it's there.

    I feel like I'm trying to explain the car to a convention of buggy whip makers.

    I'm not saying don't run a magazine, or don't ask for donations. I'm saying that trying to be a paper magazine in a digital age is a mistake, confusing price points are a mistake, and cardinal sin of all is having your magazine in a cluttered corner of a bigger website.

    Another mistake was probably telling me that your magazine costs you $10k to run and not breaking the numbers down so I can see what you're spending it on.

    Paying industry rates, SFWA accreditation and other grandiose ideas don't cut much ice with me. Suggesting that the quality of the submitted work is in some way proportionate to the amount of cash on offer, or the quality of the artwork or some other undefined magic really has to be challenged.

  10. I'm in as well, as you may have noticed. I read every issue of Apex magazine, and it's solid. There was a time when I couldn't afford $10, but now I can. I'm glad I can. God knows I spend more than that on a single DVD that gives me way less pleasure than a year of good Sci Fi short fiction.

    In principle, I do agree with Anton-- we're not here to support someone's expensive hobby. If I didn't enjoy the magazine, I'd be the first to say f#$k them. I'm not pledging money to a person or an ideal. I'm pledging it like I pledge to PBS (because I want more Jane Austen movies), the NSO (because I need more Franz Liszt in my life), and like I did to Strange Horizons earlier in the year. I like those things as they are, and I don't mind paying for the entertainment now that I can.

  11. Readers support magazines;
    Magazines support writers.

    Nuff said.