Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The delayed re-launch further delayed!

Egads! This place needs a good dusting and general tidying-up! When last I visited this, the official website of the M-Brane SF Magazine, I was mired in intense day-jobbery and still undergoing a bit of sadness over having ended the monthly run of the zine. I posted over there under "Writer's Guidelines" that I'd get things relaunched in 2012 and news would forthcome. But then it didn't. The great Ralan (of the site where editors notify of the existence of their publications and writers find their guidelines), mailed me a few days ago, noted that 2012 had passed and 2013 had set in without another breath of life from the supposed M-Brane re-launch, and wondered if all was well.

The zine?

So, for anyone who may still care, here's an update. Yes, I do wish to resurrect M-Brane SF. I love it, it was great, and want to do more. But I haven't decided on the best way to do it yet, and maybe somebody will give me some opinions on it. The old format of monthly issues got to be too much. So I think it needs to be something with either less frequency or less content. Maybe it could be monthly still but only one or two stories? Or a quarterly with a few more? Should it be a free web-posted thing? I will probably still always want to compile print anthos, like I did for the last twelves issues of the old zine, the four print Quarterlies, which were beautiful thanks to the unbelievably imaginative writers who filled them. But the subscription model for the electronic version never did work very well, and was a giant pain in the ass to maintain. In fact, I did not maintain it. At all. There were some readers who paid for a subscription back during the beginning of the first year and ended up getting all three years of it without ever renewing and with me never once bothering them about it. Basically, I hate selling stuff and I hate the fuck outta fundraising. The whole sales/money-finding aspect of editing and writing and publishing never was the thing for me, and I know that clearly now after the experience of M-Brane SF. So, yes, I think the new zine will be freely available online. And I will probably still do print versions of it for fun. And then I need to figure out what I can pay writers, how or if I am going to have some kind of income stream for it in order to fund those payments, and so on.

Whatever form the re-launch takes, I think I need to offer up much higher pay for the writers (even if I can't figure out how to fund it, which I probably won't because I will not engage in anything more than the most passive fundraising activities). During the final year of the old zine, its pages were filled with writers who were either already pros or have since become so, and I considered myself lucky to have had my pick of such good content. I am not even sure why that happened, and I am too modest to think that some kind of weird respectability and cachet had evolved around my modest publication, such that certain authors would take my paltry compensation for their work in exchange for an appearance in its pages.

But then that becomes a whole new problem: if the new M-Brane SF pays significantly more than the old one did and reaches a wider audience (due to the new free-everywhere format), then I am going to be faced with an even larger mountain of slush than ever before. Because sf writers who sub to the micro- and small-press pubs naturally work down the list from those who pay something to those who pay a little bit and then to those who pay nothing. Even though it is basically impossible for anyone--even the most established pro--to make any kind of noticeable money from short fiction anymore, the tendency is still naturally to try for at least some. Which leads me to the other thing I don't really want to do, try to recruit uncompensated slush-readers. Because the day I re-open to submissions, I am going to be swamped. That's what slowed me down so much during those last few issues of the old zine: I was buried in "real life" work and buried under heaps of M-Brane subs that I had to cull ruthlessly, some by barely reading their first sentences. No way to live, and not fair to the writers.  So, do I ask for help? Not sure right now.

Other stuff:

In other news, there is some new and pending activity in the broader M-Brane Press itself. I am finally, after about three years of promising it, rolling out Mike Griffith's Skinjumper novel. That's hopefully on the February docket, and I'll announce it officially as soon as a couple details are settled. The new, and (alas) final, issue of Fantastique Unfettered is finally about ready to roll out after some delay. But the wait will be worth it. And then there's some rumor and hearsay afloat regarding a possible new antho (something to do with "aether" of all things) and maybe a short fiction collection from a major figure in the M-Brane expanded universe and the vague possibility that I may just go ahead and expose my own nearly-done WIP if I don't get immediate agreement-of-awesomeness from some other pub, we will see (it's not more Justin Bieber fan fiction, btw!). I'm also considering a follow-up to Things We Are Not (the queer antho from 2009), but maybe with some kind of very specific hook or semi-shared reality for all the stories.

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Mari Kurisato said...

let me know if I can help in any way.

Metafrantic said...

Chris, we faced a very similar situation last year with CG Magazine. We pondered a lot of options, and then the unexpected happened and completely screwed up our plans, and the end result was actually pretty brilliant. If you want to chat about various options just email me, I'm happy to help if I can.

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