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Are Christian Spec Zines Struggling?

Are Christian Spec Zines Struggling?

by Mike Duran · 36 comments

I was recently made aware of what could be a disturbing trend. Apparently, several faith-themed, digital spec-fic publishers will be scaling back, if not completely ending, their operations.

Johne Cook, editor of Raygun Revival, recently announced the closure of their digital mag. At least, the latest incarnation of it. In doing so, he shares what appears to be a common theme among some of these indie pressers. Lack of time and money. In One Last Story Johne explains:

So what’s the story? I wish it was something glamorous like juicy Overlord in-fighting or stepping aside to resume our recurring feud with that hack Ming the Merciless, but the truth is far more pedestrian: we’re losing money. Our gracious publisher, Every Day Publishing,  has been exceedingly supportive but has been taking a loss since we started a year ago February. Grand expansion plans never quite coalesced, and while we did publish some exciting content by some up-and-coming stars and some established heavyweights, the traffic never grew enough to put us in the black and we never quite achieved the critical success which might have changed enough of these components to stay closure…

In short, we’re running on empty, and despite bringing in some really solid support in the form of our first Overseer (Keanan Brand), phenomenal big-name interviews and serial novel publication from Bryan Thomas Schmidt, and the services of more slushpile editors (Slushmasters), we couldn’t get enough things going to increase our readership enough to keep paying authors at the rates to which we have become accustomed. While we could have returned to more modest token payments, I wouldn’t do that to our Slushmasters nor our readers. (emphasis mine)

Raygun Revival has been putting out quality stories (and artwork) for quite a while. In fact, they published one of my short stories not long ago. So it saddens me to hear this and I can only hope that another incarnation of RR will emerge sometime soon.

But Johne and his troops aren’t the only ones struggling.

Lyn Perry, senior editor of  ResAliens and Fear and Trembling — spiritually-themed sci-fi and horror, respectively — shared that he will be taking a hiatus from the mags. Along with this, I was made aware of another Christian editor who will be shutting down their digital mag at year’s end (although this remains unconfirmed to me as of this writing).

I queried Lyn about this series of events and asked him if he thought this signaled some sort of trend. Are spiritually-themed digital mags on the decline? If so, why? Lyn graciously gave me permission to reprint some of our exchange:

…one issue is that it’s labor intensive (and costly) to host a venue for writers of “Christian” spec fic … and is often done as an expression of “love” for the genre (and thus run more like a hobby) than for profit. So I concur with Johne on the two issues he mentions – cost and burn out.

And then Lyn offers this interesting insight into the mind of the indie publisher:

 …maybe the bottom line regarding “the struggle” for those of us trying to offer spiritually-infused speculative fiction is also validation. Is there anyone “above us” (a bigger organization, an award organization, an established publishing presence) that looks down and says good job? Nope. If there were, maybe if we received more recognition (and thus more traffic – and money enough to pay the bills, lol) then we’d be more encouraged to keep going? Not sure. I think I feel that a bit.

…I’ve had dreams of becoming the spiritual equivalent of Clarkesworld. But it takes pro money (and a lot of work ;) and that’s something I don’t have to offer. Hmm, maybe I came full circle – labor and cost, but validation is an issue too, possibly.

For the record, Lyn said he doesn’t consider this as indicative of waning interest in spiritually-themed stories. Honestly, I have some doubts.

Anyway, it got me thinking. If these are not isolated incidents and really indicative of a trend, here’s four additional theories as to why:

  • Christian speculative fiction is not as popular as enthusiasts portray it to be.
  • Christian spec readers are not willing to pay for digital fare.
  • Hardcore spec readers have migrated elsewhere.
  • Running a small press is harder and more costly than we often believe and portray.

I’m sure there’s other possibilities. And of course, this could be complete bluster on my part. Much to-do about nothing. I don’t know. Are these closures and scale-backs indicative of something bigger brewing at the level of faith-themed spec zines? Do you know of other Christian spec mags that are in fact thriving? Or is the publishing picture for digital mags just a lot bigger than these isolated incidents? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Mirtika October 9, 2012 at 8:20 AM

MINDFLIGHTS is ending its run this December. Our wonderful, hardworking, faithful editor just doesn’t have time to continue. Struggling budgets is nothing new, and I suppose we could have been more proactive in trying to raise funds, but the truth is, it’s not just funds, but keeping a staff motivated. I know I lost my editing mojo after a spell. I was very sorry to see The Sword Review and DKA go, and now I’m sad MINDFLIGHTS is going. But yes, if readers don’t ACTIVELY support with funds, presence, discussions, traffic, then what is the point of a magazine existing?

It’s not just Christian Spec Fic magazines that struggle, btw. Secular ones have dropped like flies (Realms of Fantasy broke my heart when it went kaput; Fantasy is gone; venerable MofSFF and Asimov’s struggle, lose circulation.

I think folks pretty much have SO much to read, and so much that’s FREE, that the thought may be “why pay”? Or would rather wait for their fave authors to put the stories together into ereads at bottom prices.

I do know it’s not just the Christian side of SF online publications (and print) that struggle.

If the magazines could get their act together, I’d do the digital subs. I hated how Locus handled it, so I did not renew.

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Kevin Lucia October 9, 2012 at 11:40 PM

“Secular ones have dropped like flies ”

Twenty years ago, there were probably just as many – if not more – horror/speculative magazines that published and paid pro rates, or nearly so. Before that, probably even more.

Off the top of my head, I can think of maybe six that still exist and do so. And even some of the best ones struggle with meeting publishing schedules, and making ends meet.

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xdpaul October 9, 2012 at 8:42 AM

Here’s the other end of it: distribution and rights. IF a zine doesn’t acquire very open print rights with an author (say,one-time payment for non-exclusive, longtime or even perpetual rights) and doesn’t get the zine formatted and distributed through all channels (Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Sony, Apple, etc.) internationally and doesn’t produce a POD version to include the paper-only folks, THEN distribution is hamstrung, revenue stream is restricted and cashflow becomes a huge problem.

I’m not saying that is the issue for any of the above closures, but I know it is for plenty of other ones.

The big challenge is this: Zines are made up of units: that means multiple contracts per zine, multiple payouts per zine, multiple formatting challenges per zine. Because of that, wide international distribution at high percentage return are critical: in other words, each issue has to be a perpetual seller.

See also Stupefying Stories, and trust me, they aren’t planning to break even for another 2 years or so.

Things they’ve done right:

1) Each “zine” is not marketed as an issue (disposable), but a standalone, perpetual anthology.
2) Payments are $25 for non-exclusive electronic print rights. That means they can keep it in print and even put it in another anthology if they want to, without negotiating new permissions.
3) New issues sell back issues.
4) Distro is worldwide, multi-platform. I can find SS pretty much anywhere I’m shopping – I don’t ever have to visit their website if I don’t want to.

Just some thoughts. Have no idea how they impact the zine world.

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Johne Cook October 9, 2012 at 8:59 AM

Two quick observations:
* RGR was never a Christian Spec-Fic rag, rather, we were some of us Christians writing and publishing genre stories (specifically, Space Opera and Golden Age Sci-Fi). The difference was our audience and intention. I liked seeing standard genre stories with a moral core. (The discussion about the difference has been debated pretty thoroughly here before so I won’t add to it, but I thought I’d make that caveat clear.)
* John Ward curates a phenomenal Writers circle over on Google+. He’s finding really exciting Indie and Self Publishing successes for authors and artists. John approached me some months back. If I’d have found John say a year ago, perhaps things might have turned out differently for RGR. The RGR editors were interested in some of the things suggested by John Ward, by Bryan Thomas Schmidt, by Jordan Ellinger and Camille Gooderham Cambpell, and others. It was simply a case of too little, too late. If RGR does return from hiatus a year or three hence, I would be very surprised if we don’t try to take greater advantage of the Indie / Self Publishing strategies seeing great success by some of John’s writers. You can follow him here:
https://plus.google.com/+JohnWard/posts

In thinking about the rise and fall of publishing stories, I am reminded of something I learned about Damon Knight, a Science Fiction Grandmaster. Knight’s activities ran in a cycle of roughly two years. He’d write short stories and novels, he’d flip over and by an editor, and then he’d flip over again and run his writing conferences and schools, rinse-and-repeat. I’m not sure this is a bad thing. The more time I spent editing RGR, the less I could spend writing my own material. I welcome the opportunity to write more of my own things. I also welcome the prospect of relaxing my editorial impulses for a season.

I think it’s worth putting this idea out there: the overall question may be one of Calling. If you are a Christian editor or author, who do you write for? What is your focus? Who is your ultimate audience? If there is a failure of Christian Spec-Fic publications, perhaps it is because some of us were writing for the wrong audience. Granted, it is easier to preach to the choir, but is that what we were all called to do? I can only speak for myself – my calling was elsewhere.

For the purpose of clarity, I’m not saying there isn’t a place for Christian Spec-Fic. I really like what they’re doing at the Speculative Faith blog, and The Lost Genre Guild’s e-mail discussion group has seen a resurgence in recent months. Frank Creed recently published his third Christian Cyberpunk thriller. I just think it’s critical for authors and editors to ask God what and where they should be serving using their gifts. Some may be called to write for the flock, however, we all are subject to the Great Commission, and I think it’s easy to get caught up in the allure of writing for fun or for profit with an eye to Christian markets because that is our desire. God gifted us in the first place. I believe we have to know what He would have us do before we start to write.

I would be curious to see if my friends Selena Thomason and Mir Schultz, editors at MindFlights, have anything to add to this discussion. MindFlights has been a sister publication to RGR, publishing great Christian Spec-Fic while we published stuff for the readers who would never darken the door of a church but who still appreciated a story with a strong moral component.

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Johne Cook October 9, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Ha! Mir beat me to it.

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Jessica Thomas October 9, 2012 at 10:23 AM

Speaking personally, I’ve been focusing on the mainstream ezines. In terms of Christian Spec ezines, the options are limited. One of my stories has appeared in Residential Aliens. I like the zine and don’t want to see it go. However, I’m not sure what it does to further the Christian Spec cause (or Lyn’s cause) to have the same batch of authors submitting to the same ezines over and over.

My publishing credits will pull more weight if they include several diverse ezines, and that in turn helps to validate Residential Aliens. It shows that my writing has been vetted and determined publishable by a broad range of people. Otherwise, the credits look suspicious, like I’m stuck in an echo chamber. As you’ve noted here in previous blog posts, critiques inside the echo chamber are not always trustworthy. (You pat my back, I’ll pat yours.)

Even so, I’m not that enthusiastic about submitting to ezines in general lately. I’ve been targeting SFWA zines with the knowledge that my odds of rejection are ridiculously high. However, one publishing credit from those zines would pull the weight of 5 (or more) credits from lesser known zines. And quite frankly, I don’t have the time to submit to a relatively unknown zine and then wait wait wait for a rejection six months later, only to repeat the process again and again. Especially when, if I’m being truthful, I almost never read ezines. I don’t have time. That said, I still think magazine publishing credits are valuable, especially if it’s Asimovs.

Back to Christian Speculative Fiction, what I think authors need to do (those who are willing) is to step into the mainstream, find success there, and then throw the focus back to the Christian Spec Fic indie presses, zines, organizations, etc. The more “break out” successes we have, the more visible Christian Speculative Fiction will become. That’s my latest theory anyway.

If not “break out” successes, our stuff has to stand head to head in terms of quality. By that I mean, the best of our best needs to be as good or better than the best of “their” best, and I don’t think we’re there yet, myself included. (I hate to divide it into “us and them”. Ideally, cooperative efforts would be preferrable because then the pool of potential readers becomes much larger.)

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Katherine Coble October 9, 2012 at 10:58 AM

Everybody else is saying what I’d come here to say. It’s not the “Christian” that’s the problem, nor is it the “Spec Fic”. It’s the “Zine”.

With self-publishing of novella and novel-length stuff so dead easy these days, a lot of the topshelf authors who used to submit to the Zines are just going ahead and self-pubbing.

Readers like me can now get two or three really good epub novellas/novels for the price of a Zine, and my tastes lean in that direction anyway.

I really enjoyed RayGun Revival (It was the only Zine I still read…and honestly I kept reading it because of Johne).

Zines are sort of like the shortwave radios of fiction publishing. And now the world has cell phones (Amazon/Smashwords/etc.)

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Ramona October 9, 2012 at 11:14 AM

As someone who published a Chrisitian science fiction magazine in the early 90s–evening getting it into the local bookstores–I can underscore that this is NOT a trend. It’s the way this business cycles and has for at least 60 years. One reason that sf does this when other genres do not (IMO) is that sf readers (and writers) cut their teeth on the short form story. We love it, embrace, want to write it, want to publish it. (Only the mystery genre comes close.) But the other issues kick in (time, money, etc), and it’s usually the creators who are doing all the work. The most successful small pubs I’ve seen usually have someone who is NOT a creator in charge of PR and sales. That’s not always the solution, but it does give a new publication a fighting chance.

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Melissa Ortega October 9, 2012 at 11:20 AM

I’m heartbroken to hear about Johne’s zine. It’s top notch – the art, the stories. Sad to see it go!!

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Kerry Nietz October 9, 2012 at 11:21 AM

I think Katherine’s point about self-publishing is a good one, especially when it comes to eBooks. While in the past–in the printed age–a reader might turn his nose up at buying a single short story, with eBooks there is no such perception. Look at the “Wool” series. The first story is essentially a short story, but because it was ePublished, and nobody really cares on an eReader about the size (as long as the price is right) , it was successful. And drove demand for more.

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Chila Woychik October 9, 2012 at 12:17 PM

It’s sad when this happens, but of course from my perspective it’s also a great opportunity to expand out into the general /crossover markets. Yep, harping on that again, and agree or disagree with my strong opinions on so many things, it’s a logical route for Christian authors. Won’t be able to preach, but we can still be a light, and in this darkening world, a small light can shine quite brightly when all is said and done.

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Mike Duran October 9, 2012 at 5:35 PM

Lots of great information here. Thanks for the responses. The one qualification I’d make regarding Christian spec zines as opposed to zines in general, is that despite the struggles, there’s still a lot of speculative webzines out there. I’m just wondering if the fall-off is disproportionate in the Christian market.

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Kevin Lucia October 9, 2012 at 11:45 PM

“a lot of speculative webzines out there.”

Again, I’d need to do research, but I don’t think that’s the case. Think the secular market has thinned considerably, also.The Christian market is just smaller by nature, so therefore the thinning is more noticeable.

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Christian October 9, 2012 at 7:16 PM

I love speculative fiction but I know that I much prefer reading a hard copy book than an ebook. Maybe many speculative fiction readers think similarly.

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Nikole Hahn October 10, 2012 at 8:52 AM

I’ve been struggling with the issue of whether to write for the secular or Christian market now after being told three times by agents how hard it is to sell Spec Fiction in the Christian market and yet in the secular it’s all you see or hear about is fantasy. It’s popular; just not in our circles. I’m sending in my spec christian piece to one more publisher, but then, I will be setting it aside for a year so I can have fresh eyes on it. Meanwhile, I am beginning a new novel, but not sure if I should keep it secular or go christian spec? Any advice here?

I posted this on the other post when it should have gone here. Sorry.

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Johne Cook October 10, 2012 at 9:04 AM

I suggest prayer.

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Chila Woychik October 18, 2012 at 2:52 AM

Are you going strictly larger presses, Nikole? If so, you may want to try smaller presses that do mainstream/crossover work, such as, ahem, a little one over here in Iowa called Port Yonder. Seriously, there are a few good smaller / indie presses who might love a stab at a really good spec fic piece. Pray all you like, but then do the research too. Pretty imperative.

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Nikole Hahn October 18, 2012 at 8:30 AM

Believe me, Port Yonder is on my list. :o) I may submit my new piece rather than the other one. A small press was critical (not in a bad way) and I think I’m too close to that other piece right now to see clearly. I’ve got someone looking at it right now, but meanwhile, am starting the new one with a self-imposed deadline of one year called, “Broken Compass,” a paranormal piece. I’m laying the foundation for it, and that’s where my question came in. It can be so discouraging, especially since we’re so segregated. I’ll look up the crossover requirements in spec fiction and research. Christian spec fiction requires certain messages to be obvious, but I remember reading your guidelines on the crossover thing that you are looking for the more subtle (according to my foggy memory)?

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Chila Woychik October 18, 2012 at 9:02 AM

Right. If there’s any sort of faith element/foundation, it should be very subtle, integrated into either a single character’s life (either a non-preachy character or a preachy one who pays a price for being too vocal, which is usually the case in real life) or into the society-at-large. /That’s/ crossover. Any general reader will be able to pick it up and relate.

As a reminder, we do favor the slightly literary as opposed to genre fic for several reasons, not the least of which is that the author obviously took more time to sculpt it.

Looking forward to connecting.

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Johne Cook October 18, 2012 at 9:20 AM

“As a reminder, we do favor the slightly literary as opposed to genre fic for several reasons, not the least of which is that the author obviously took more time to sculpt it.”

I object to this characterization. Genre fic doesn’t necessarily equate to slapdash.

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Mirtika October 18, 2012 at 10:04 AM

I dig Chila and her “mission”, but I also object. :D I’m a genre gal, and have been since my teen years. Among my fave writers in SF are those who, if it were not for the fact that they chose to writer speculative fiction, would surely be praised for their style and voice and strong “literary” abilities. Some have been in college anthologies–Harlan Ellison, for example. Ursula K. LeGuin is genre, and literary. Theodore Sturgeon–marvelous short story writer–only wrote SF (that I can recall), but literary. Tanith Lee. James Tiptree, Jr/Alice Sheldon. Connie Willis. Octavia Butler, Chip Delany. Ray Bradbury. Alfred Bester. James Blish. Well, the list goes on.

The more modern crop has the likes of Kelly Link, Catherynne M. Valente, Neil Gaiman, Margo Lanahan, Ted Chiang, Ken Liu,….

Although perhaps what Chila is saying is that those who submit SF lean toward THAT type of style in our genre and not the pulpier or by the formula variety..mebbe?

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Chila Woychik October 18, 2012 at 10:57 AM

Of course, Mirtika. You got my drift. And that’s why I said “we” as in Port Yonder, and “favor” as in prefer but not necessarily exclusively, and “slightly literary” as in more time spent than six months writing a novel.

Thanks for not reading into what isn’t there. Genre fic is one thing but yes, there is within that those pieces and authors which are “slightly literary.” And thanks for those names. I’ll be glad to look up the ones I’m not yet familiar with.

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Johne Cook October 18, 2012 at 11:15 AM

That’s the problem, Maggie – reading what /is/ there could be legitimately taken as a slight against genre fiction. Genre fiction, like everything else, is a mixed bag. There’s quality stuff there if you have an interest for it: A. Lee Martinez (The Automatic Detective,) Cory Doctorow (Little Brother, Pirate Cinema), John Scalzi (Fuzzy Theory, Red Shirts).

For myself, I consider the quality of the work as the prime determinant rather than ‘X time spent.’ My understanding of sculpture is the value is in the quality of the end product, not how long the artist suffered to create the work.

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Mirtika October 18, 2012 at 12:39 PM

And Gene Wolfe and Tim Powers would certainly qualify as masters of the genre–ie, speculative AND literary quality. :D I mean, Tim Powers’ prose. Whoo. And Gene Wolfe’s subtext and tones. Whee. Oh, and Jeffrey Ford. And the subtle magic of urban fantasist, Charles de Lint. The intellectual and literary glimmer of The Orphans of Chaos trilogy (Wright). Lois McMaster Bujold…this is quality stuff. DUNE is still popular after all these decades. It holds water. (pun intended) :D

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Johne Cook October 18, 2012 at 12:45 PM

Groan!

My fellow Overlord, L.S. King, recently met Herself (as Lois is known in her circles) at an event. Lee’s still talking about it weeks later.

My point is genre fiction fans and authors have dealt with dismissive Literary fiction readers forever. It’s a sore point.

Mirtika October 18, 2012 at 12:46 PM

~~My understanding of sculpture is the value is in the quality of the end product, not how long the artist suffered to create the work.~~

Yeah, gotta give the “amen” to this.

Though, honestly, since most of us are not wild-eye geniuses of swiftly mined polished prose of major karat level, time does tend to become a factor in quality for the mass of us. At the very least, the polish that comes from multiple drafts and lots of pondering over character depth and world-building and singing prose.

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Mirtika October 18, 2012 at 12:47 PM

J-man, I still get chills about that climactic scene in THE CURSE OF CHALION, up in the sky. The spirituality and the payoff. Yes, sir. And who doth not love Miles? Who, tell me? I will sneer at them.

Nikole Hahn October 18, 2012 at 11:13 AM

Thanks, Chila! Now I have a bit of a clearer idea where to go with Broken Compass.

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Johne Cook October 18, 2012 at 12:55 PM

(I had a “Claps” in there that didn’t make it to the comment. Note to self: avoid HTML brackets when making stage comments for comic effect.) ;)

I am so over trolls, orcs, elves, and the rest of it. With “The Curse of Chalion,” LMB brought me back to Fantasy, showed me there’s a wide, wide world of Fantasy which remains to be explored which acknowledges Tolkien’s legacy without requiring his specific mythological elements.

And Miles… Next to Joss Whedon and Firefly, the Vorkosigan saga rekindled my love of space opera. (And if you love early Miles, I hear “Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance” is amazingly fun. Can’t wait for Nov. 12.)

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Katherine Coble October 18, 2012 at 1:00 PM

I am just nodding and clapping with all of this.

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Mirtika October 18, 2012 at 1:02 PM

I was over the Tolkien copies ages ago, which is why I was so disheartened that every time someone wanted me to look at/critique a novel, it was Tolkienesque stuff. The novel I had been working on that two CBA editors wanted to see was urban fantasy. I like urban fantasy, post-apocalyptic, dystopian. AND..I like the more traditional fantasy if it really does something FRESH, not the same old allegories and tropes. Do something that makes me go, “Oh, wasn’t expecting that. ” :) I like castles and woods and wizards, but not if it’s the SAME stuff everyone else is throwing about. What I loved about the first two Chalion novels (and both rocked) was that she created a spiritual system that made you think it was an alternate Spain with some alternate Catholicism, it had a sense of familiarity while being alien. It had the sense of castles, magic, Machiavellian intrique, but in a fresh way. I gotta reread that before year’s end to remind me how it can be done RIGHT. :D

I also love me the Dresden books, cause that guy can plot like nobody’s business. I always just about pee myself with excitement when the major battle goes down with all those threads coming together. Every time!

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Katherine Coble October 18, 2012 at 1:03 PM

I was going to say what others have already said, Chila. Genre doesn’t mean bad.

But also….literary doesn’t mean Good.

I think maybe it’s just a good idea to say that you publish quality fiction.

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Chila Woychik October 18, 2012 at 9:12 PM

Well, that’s the case, of course: genre doesn’t necessarily mean bad and literary doesn’t necessarily mean good. No qualms with that. Port Yonder Press prefers “slightly literary” over simple genre fiction. No better way to say it.

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Lyn Perry October 10, 2012 at 3:38 PM

Thanks for broaching this topic.

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Anton Gully October 12, 2012 at 6:05 AM

I was the token atheist at RGR but I never felt I was treated differently. Sure, I was told I wasn’t welcome at the Christmas retreat because I was a soulless monster, but I get that a lot. Mothers! Right?

For what it’s worth if you’re a digital magazine and you’re not on Kindle then you’re hamstringing yourself. I’ve a hunch that RGR could have done better as a quarterly Kindle anthology than as a website. It would have meant pulling the free material entirely but, and again I have no numbers to support this, I think a $2.99 ebook (with 70% royalty) would have supported itself better than an ad-supported website. Also, no hosting costs.

I don’t know the exact figures but RGR was paying a variable rate, up to a pro rate, for fiction. At four and a bit stories a month, plus hosting it was probably costing around a grand per month to run. Might be half that but I doubt it was more. That’s a lot of ad clicks – A LOT.

The Space Opera diaspora was largely unaware of the website and PR is difficult – a skill unto itself. Where do people go when they want to read an electronic story? The Kindle store.

Could you package 8-10 stories per quarter in an anthology and get enough people to buy it so you can pay the writers? Bruce Bethke’s Stupefying Stories is doing something like this as a monthly right now. Not aware of a Christian focus, but I never hung around that crowd for long. Decent guys, but we disagree on everything. A 60k word count at 3 cents per word needs $1800.00 or approx 900 buyers at $2.99 a pop (for $2.09 profit per sale). (I’m conveniently forgetting that you’ll also need editing and some art services) A strong franchise will continue to sell beyond the quarter it’s released, sometimes for years but that doesn’t pay the bills now. Is it realistic to hope for almost a thousand sales for a quality Space Opera themed anthology selling on Kindle, Nook, Sony and iPad?

Beats me.

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Johne Cook October 12, 2012 at 6:49 AM

Anton is my favorite undead genre expert.

I’ve been thinking about Kat Coble’s comments about dinosaur ‘zines, and balancing that with John Ward’s astonishment that we weren’t actively bundling and marketing our stories on Amazon. I suppose a more forward-thinking editorial group might have seen this coming, but that’s the problem with routine – you get into a comfortable groove and fail to see that’s just a rut by another name.

At the moment, We really are buffeted and overwhelmed by life and work and everything. And yet, I can see that if we were to come back at some point in the future when people have healed and work has become manageable, I could see trying a different delivery philosophy. (It would also involve reaching out to somebody with a different skillset – I was really good at wrangling artwork in exchange for exposure and publishing content for free, but that era is over. In the future, I would want to work with somebody with experience paying artists and authors and earning money from paying customers.)

[As an aside, if you ever need a crack SF/F editor, I cannot recommend Anton Gully highly enough. He's got an encyclopedic knowledge of the genre, a monster (heh) work ethic, and genuinely loves reading stories. Plus, don't tell him I said this, but he's got a wry sense of humor that works really well when corresponding with authors whose stories don't quite make the cut. He makes editing fun.]

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