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.
2 thoughts on “Starting Your Own Semiprozine (2 of a series)”
Agree with all of the above. Though I’d say don’t sugarcoat it. 😉 The more prepared folks are, the better their chances of surviving. ‘Zines can get over 400 submissions a month, easy.
GUD got 30 today (though if that’s not a record for us, it’s near one; and a good chunk of that was poetry). Still we’re at about 420 this month, and it’s only the 14th. ((our previous steady-state has been about 450/mo, but we were closed for two, so there’s probably some “ringing” against that)).
If you can’t think of a “niche”, a mission statement is a good place to begin. Either why do you need to exist, or what are you going to accomplish.
One advantage of being a token pay zine is that the submissions merely dribble 🙂 At least I can handle the flow at this point! lol But thanks for the info on the work involved in becoming a semipro, which is a goal of mine. Lyn from ResAliens
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