is putting out a call for the support of short fiction through a subscription drive. He may work for Realms of Fantasy, but his crusade is for all the great short fiction markets out there.
Aside from being the publisher of Clarkesworld Magazine, I’m a huge fan of short fiction. I read tons of it. While I ran the bookstore, I had a lot of it readily available and now that’s going away. I’m picking up a few subscriptions where I can, putting others on wishlists, and now I’m joining his cause and hoping you will too. I’ll even expand it a bit to suggest that you consider donating to any number of the free magazines out there as well. Just like their for pay brothers and sisters, they count on your support. Every little bit helps and as one of those markets, I can tell you it means a lot.
There are a lot of really good magazines out there. I’ll just toss a few names out there: Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Electric Velocipede, Shimmer, Sybil’s Garage, Weird Tales, Interzone, Black Static (the second life of The Third Alternative), Talebones, Black Gate, Baen’s, Strange Horizons, Fantasy and Flytrap. That’s just a handful. I sold nearly 100 different titles in my store so I know there is something for almost everyone. Check out something new and enjoy.
Want to push your favorite? Toss it in the comments and tell us why we should subscribe or donate to that magazine.
It’s just starting out, but it’s one of the better new fiction magazines I’ve read. The editor’s a nice guy. It’s the only place I know of that focuses on new classic-style weird fiction (think folks like Machen and Hodgson). It’s named after a Blackwood story. And they were good enough to publish one of my stories, so you know they’ve got good taste. Take your pick.
Haven’t heard of that one before. I’ll have to check them out.
And yes, I am putting my $$$ where my mouth is. Interzone is publishing my premiere story, very likely next month. Far be it from me not to support them for recognizing my brilliance. I just charged a one-year subscription to my credit card before posting this rant.
Being the editor of a short fiction-related magazine must be very frustrating. To wit, I’ve heard editors say how even authors whose stories have been accepted by magazine still won’t buy a subscription to the magazines who’ve accepted/published their own stories!
To look at the other side of the equation, I did my damnedest to buy subscriptions to the magazines I wrote for, and I even bought extra copies from the editors for promotional purposes. Half of the editors looked at me as if I was a rara avis for doing so, and the other half took advantage of the situation. (I still grind my jaws at how Dave Truesdale at Tangent cried to me about how he didn’t have enough money to publish the latest issue in time for the 1997 WorldCon, so I sent him $300 to buy 100 copies of that issue, as I had a column that I really wanted to see premiere in San Antonio. Well, he went to WorldCon, all right, and wouldn’t return letters and phone calls about how well the new issue went at the con, and I didn’t get my copies until right after they were printed…on Halloween.)
Oh, no! Yeah, I’ve also noticed that some editors just don’t have their act together. Some people are just flakes. A few are even downright dishonest. I’ve noticed how many fiction magazines fold rather quickly. I get the impression that with some would-be editors, they start a magazine not realizing how much goes into it. Although I think a writer should buy a subscription to a magazine that publishes your work, there is a definite possibility that they might go out of business and you might not get your money refunded—especially with smaller publications.
“Refunded,” hell. I worked for more than a few that deliberately went out of their way to convince subscribers that they were “on hiatus” so that the editor/publisher wouldn’t have to offer refunds. Some are relatively sneaky (Steve Brown of Science Fiction Eye kept up the “on hiatus” story for two years before very quietly shutting down “The Last Dangerous Magazine”, and most subscribers only heard about it because I wrote an article about its demise when Joey Zone let me know), but others are particularly vile. For instance, the first and last issue of the “new” Film Threat came out a decade ago last January, and not only has Chris Gore yet to refund a penny to all of the subscribers, but he proceeded to bullshit everyone into believing that he’d gotten the okay to hang onto the money.
My absolute favorite, though, came from Seth Friedman of Factsheet Five, who waited until the absolute last minute to announce that he was going to shut down but told staff and contributors that he was “delaying” what was the last issue. (I was involved because the editor commissioned an article from me, and not only didn’t I get a kill fee, but the article was yanked because Friedman’s wank about “The History of Factsheet Five” ran two pages over.) The reason for the “hiatus” was because he was planning to find a new buyer: he had a starting price of $70,000 because some drinking buddy told him it was worth twice that, and continued to collect subscription funds for three years on the assumption that the new buyer would make good on the accounts. Nearly a decade later, and I keep hearing rumors about someone just taking over the magazine, but I’ll put down my 401(k) on the World Series featuring the Chicago Cubs versus the Texas Rangers this year before I’d even bother to try buying an issue sight unseen.
This is why it’s probably a good idea to do some internet searches to see if you hear about somebody engaging in ring-round-the-collar business practices or other kooky behavior. It’s not fullproof, but it’s better than nothing. I just saw an entry on LJ where somebody told an aspiring author that the horror writer who accepted his story is an outcast in the horror community because of his insane/threatening behavior. I’m sure you know who I’m talking about but I don’t want to use his name or the acronym associated with him because I don’t want him to see this entry. The naive writer had just learned the hard lesson to do a search before submitting his fiction.
Postscripts – the digest-sized high-quality magazine from PS Publishing. And yes, it’s published a couple of my stories, but that’s not why I love it; I love it because it is absolutely an expression of Pete Crowther’s tastes in fiction. Which is one of the fabulous things about short-story magazines: yes, you get great individual stories, but more than that, the selection builds into an aggregate portrait of the editor’s mind. Like scanning someone’s bookshelves.
Yes, Pete has great taste. It’s another one I read regularly.
Without the slightest bit of snark or crankiness, I wish you the best of luck on this. I have to admit that one of the reasons I gave up on the genre was because I was manning the battlements with the same call a decade ago, noting that the magazines wouldn’t be around to accept submissions so long as those submitters weren’t actually paying for them. At the time I was writing, not only was I buying subscriptions to all of the print magazines for which I was writing, but I was also buying bulk lots and sending them out to garner further interest in the magazines in question. (At one point, I was handing out or mailing out 200 copies of Sci-Fi Universe and 100 copies of Tangent every time a new issue came out, and I even jumped to the defense of Eidolon and gave away free copies to build up interest in the States. My postage bills between 1997 and 2001 were pretty impressive.) All I got for my trouble was a sore butthole: I’d get mugged at conventions and movie previews by Cat Piss Men who demanded free copies and who’d then throw them away because it wasn’t something they really wanted, and I’d get paranoiac letters from people who’d received free copies in the mail because they thought I was trying to pressure them into buying subscriptions. I really hope this drive works out, but if history is any indicator, I’m not expecting much more than lots of noise about “supporting short fiction” and precious few actual subscriptions.
In all honesty, I don’t think there will be a surge of subscriptions or donations, but I am a believer in every little bit helping. In some cases it may just delay the inevitable, but given how much enjoyment I’ve received from short fiction, assisting the cry seemed like the least I could do. Sad to hear that you’ve been burned for your efforts.
As I said, there’s no snark, because your heart is in the right place. I’m just also so damn tired of hearing stories from editors getting flamed by Cat Piss Men for daring to include a subscription note with rejection letters, on the assumption that the submitter might actually want to try reading an issue before sending another Absolutely Fabulous/Farscape slashfic novella.