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. This installment is by Scott Andrews from Beneath Ceaseless Skies:
Have a vision for what you can bring to the field, and make sure you understand the commitment involved in running a ‘zine.
I think the best ‘zines are like the best stories. Great short stories come from a burning need the author has to tell that specific story, some insight they have into that character or that theme or that world. Great ‘zines come from an editor or editors who are passionate about a certain kind of fiction and therefore are dedicated to promoting it.
I love “literary adventure fantasy”–fantasy with cool worlds and exciting plots like the great fantasy of past decades, but written with modern literary flair. The whole reason I started Beneath Ceaseless Skies was to create a home for that type of fantasy short fiction. It helped that there was no existing magazine dedicated to fantasy of that type, so our specialization has given BCS a unique identity. And because I’m passionate about that kind of fiction, running the magazine is a labor of love.
But even a labor of love can be a ton of work. Anyone starting a ‘zine should give serious consideration to whether they can handle the work load. Some amateur ‘zines have gone under after only a few issues because the editor(s) had no idea how much work it is. ‘Zines can get over 200 submissions a month, and behind each one of those submissions is an author who is counting on you, the editor, to send them a prompt reply. If you get in over your head, you will end up leaving a lot of writers annoyed that you didn’t live up to your commitment. So make sure you understand and accept that commitment before you start a ‘zine.