I've made all the issues of M-Brane from issue #3 to present available for print-on-demand by way of Lulu, and after issue #3 was released, I went back and fixed some problems in the source documents for issues #1 and #2 so that they could be available there as well. I had not until yesterday, however, actually seen one of these print copies with my own eyes. I received a couple copies of the newest issue, M-Brane #5, yesterday and I am delighted with what a nice job Lulu does of printing and binding it. The interior lacks the spot color that PDF version has, and the ads are rendered in black and white, but the print quality is excellent, and much cleaner-looking than one gets by running something off at FedEx like I did for the original print versions of #1 and #2. Also, it is perfect-bound (like a normal paperback book) and the cover is absolutely beautiful, printed in full color on heavy glossy stock.
You are Here: Home > Print M-BRANE #5 looks great! Some remarks on future editions and funding sources
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
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Writer Robert Keller, who has a story scheduled in a future issue, made a good suggestion to me the other day. While I am happy to have this print version (and the Kindle version) available for people like Robert who like to get it that way, these third-party methods don't net M-Brane a whole lot of income since Lulu and Amazon get nearly the whole take. And that's fine: if we start selling a lot more of them, it will still add up to some extra money over time. But Robert suggested that since the PDF version is still the best source of income for the magazine (at least until ads start selling better), I might want to make that edition somehow different, with some bonus content not present in the other formats. I am considering it but haven't decided what or how yet. As readers who have followed the zine and this blog from the beginning know, I have been working constantly on finding new ways to generate income and move us along toward the ultimate goal of being a pro publication. The frustrating puzzle that still defies solution, however is this: readers have not yet made the mental shift in large enough numbers to thinking that an electronic publication is something (and therefore worth money), while there seems to still be the persistent sense that something in print carries a lot more intrinsic value. That would be fine with me, but not many people are buying the print version anyway--actually more than I thought would have, but still not in huge numbers yet. Where we are at now seems to be this: enthusiasm for spending a lot of money on print periodicals is well into decline (note all the newspaper and magazine failures that have happened lately or are about to happen), and everyone wants free electronic versions instead.
Believe me, I would love to make M-Brane free to the world every month, but it's not going to happen until/if it has some kind of other major funding source. I have no means of paying the little bit that I pay to the writers--and certainly no hope of increasing those payments--without income from subscriptions, single-copy sales, ads or donations. It must fund itself. The other option would be to not pay writers at all (thus eliminating a large portion of the zine's direct costs of doing business) but that would be totally counter-productive to my long-term goals and make it impossible for me to get content of the quality that I have had so far. Though I don't pay much, it is something, and that little something gets me stories from a lot of writers who would never consider sending me anything if I were a non-paying market. I think in a few years when there just aren't any more major print periodicals left in the market, this sort of problem will solve itself. I'll navigate as best as I can in the meantime. I am not going to drop my basic insistence, however, that writers' work needs to be compensated somehow and that means ipso facto that readers need to shell out at least a little bit.
Another possibility that seems increasingly promising is that I may be able prop up the zine's funding by expanding the operation into some other areas such as books. The queer anthology for which I am currently reading, is intended to be a first experiment in creating a product that can generate a profit (even selling by way of third parties) and possibly reach a wider audience than the monthly zine usually does. If this goes according to plan, then I will be devising some other projects, possibly other kinds of anthologies or maybe single-author collections.
Labels: zine operations