Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Various business to catch up on...

1. If you're into fiction that evokes the Lovecraft ethos, check out Nathan Shumate's zine Arkham Tales. It's a handsome (and free) PDF zine. The fiction is solid and it is not "Lovecraftian" in the sense of just being more Cthulhu Mythos-type stuff, but much more broad and varied than that. Writer Jeffery Sims has a novella in it called "The House on the Hill of Stars" featuring his character Professor Vorchek who also stars in his novella "Peril in the Red Zone," scheduled for release in M-Brane #2 in March.

2. A major casualty in the genre zine world: Realms of Fantasy, a pretty big and important fantasy mag, is ending publication with its March issue.  I never really followed this one myself, but I understand it had become one of the heavy-hitters of short-form fantasy publishing. (ERROR!  Their last issue will be dated April--thanks, Rick, for catching that).

3. The print edition of M-Brane is probably going to be handled, at least for the first few months, by way of CreateSpace's print-on-demand service.  I will have the final price for #1 and the way to order it within a few days after I have been provided with some confirmations from them.  I have to say that this a less than satisfactory situation for me because it will be impossible to have the price per issue any lower than something like $5.00 or perhaps a hair higher.  The problem, however, is that I can't really produce it myself by "conventional" means for any less.  Unless and until the demand for a print edition exceeds at least 100 copies per month, I am stuck having to pay the much higher per-copy rates for much lower numbers of copies no matter what I do. While this cover price is not exactly insanely high, it does not include shipping, and I do not know what that number is yet. I have made this tentative decision, however: at least for the period that I am using POD by way of CreateSpace, and starting with issue #2, I intend to offer up two ways to buy M-Brane in print: 1) the individual issues #1, #2, etc. will be available as one would expect; and 2) I will create a sort of bimonthly "omnibus" edition containing two issues (#1 and #2, for example) under one cover.  I will actually be able to sell this double issue for not much more at all than the price of the single issue because the printer's base price for a book that size is the same as it is for one half as big. The shipping will probably be a tad more because it will weigh nearly twice as much, but it should make it possible for people who want to have the print version and do not mind waiting for bimonthly availability to buy it without spending an absurd amount of money. Once we get to where there is heavier demand for the print version, I will have more options and hopefully cheaper ones. I really want this zine to be available to as many people as possible while still having some income to support it, and a really high cover price cuts against that.

4) Sort of following from that, I have been mulling the pricing of the PDF edition. I'm going to, for now, leave the base price at $12/12 issues and continue for a while the half-price offer. Brandon Bell, in a comment on my 1/24 post makes the excellent point that people associate quality with price, and that I may be going in the wrong direction by making it so cheap. Indeed, he suggests I massively increase the subscription price and suggests much larger donations to our "pledge drive." The idea is that it would make it seem more worth buying than something that is priced just barely above the web's base price of "free" for most things. Cory Doctorow, in one of his Locus columns recently, also doubts the potential of success for "micro-payment" schemes. My natural democratic (small 'd' this time) inclinations, however, make me want to believe that it's worth making the PDF available to people who just won't--or nowadays can't--spring for a thirty dollar or more subscription to something. I suspect that there are a lot of people who can put up $12 more easily (just a hundred such folks pretty well endows my writers fund for the year assuming I stay at my lowly pay rate for stories).  Maybe the perception that this is twelve bucks well spent will follow after the zine has been around longer and people are talking about it.  And then I will triple the price!  Just kidding!

5) I continue to feel great swells of pride over the kind and generous comments that I have been receiving since the early release of the issue #1 PDF. Apparently, it is generally considered to be a good-looking zine.  I sent copies over the last couple of days to a bunch of sf "greats," major writers and other luminaries in the field, and have been dazzled and touched to get some replies from the likes of Rudy Rucker, Kevin Anderson, and David Brin among others all complimenting the nice appearance of it. I wasn't actually expecting to hear back from busy people like that, so it was extra special to know that they had actually gone to the trouble of looking at it. It reminds of me of years ago when I was maybe twenty years old and I submitted a short story to one of Jerry Pournelle's There Will Be War military sf anthologies. Ages and ages later, after I had all but forgotten about the submission, I received the expected standard rejection letter, but with a personal note from Pournelle stating that it took a long time to reject my story because the first tier of readers liked it a lot and needed him to look at it and make the call.  I had this geeky thrill over that because the dude who's name is on the cover of the book actually looked at my dumb story! (The reason that the story was rejected by There Will Be War, by the way, was because it was not really a story, but more a series of vignettes--it was, in fact, three pieces of loosely connected "flash fiction" under one title, though we didn't call it "flash" back then. I would reject it from M-Brane now, too, for the same reason). 

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Rick Novy said...

ROF's last is the April issue.


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