I asked a few of our semiprozine editors and publishers if they had any advice for someone considering starting a semiprozine of their own. I was originally going to run these all at once, but it turns out their answers are best served separately. I’m starting the series off with Beth Wodzinski from Shimmer Magazine:
Wow, there’s a lot to say for someone who’s considering starting their own.
First, I’d point them at John Klima’s series on starting a zine. It starts here: http://blog.electricvelocipede.com/2007/08/so-you-want-to-start-zine-pt-1.html and has a lot of sound advice, and is also encouraging.
Second, Shimmer’s been very much a joint project. Find some other people who a) are awesome, b) share your vision for the project, and c) you can work productively with. The fabulous Mary Robinette Kowal was officially Shimmer’s art director for several years, but she was so much more than that, and helped shape what we are at every step. It as terrific and much better than anything I could have come up with on my own! We’ve also benefited enormously from the generous help and advice of other publishers and editors–John Klima, John Joseph Adams, Sean Wallace, Patrick Swenson, Gavin Grant, Jason Sizemore, and a host of others. I can’t imagine doing it alone.
Third, I’d warn them that it’s a hell of a lot more work than they’re anticipating (especially if they’re planning a dead tree edition). The editorial aspects are fun, but they’re also only one part of it — they’ll also need to figure out how to handle marketing and accounting and production and a dozen other things. And it never stops — prepare for a marathon, not a sprint. I’m still figuring out how to get it all done without feeling overwhelmed, or letting it push the rest of my life out of balance.
Fourth, I love doing it. I enjoy the challenge of the constant learning curve, the hunt of finding amazing new stories, and admiring the final copies of an issue. It’s worth it, in the long run. So, learn as much as you can about all the challenges involved, and then do it anyway.