Save the Semiprozine – Part 2

If you are just coming into this discussion at this post, I suggest that you check out part 1. Same rules apply.

The next few quotes will from a recent post and comments at File 770.

“When I looked at the wordage rates offered to beginning writers by semiprozines and prozines, I was surprised to see they often aren’t that far apart, by no means the great chasm I expected. The competition to develop a successful magazine involves more than money, it requires a lot of other skills and personal intangibles, too. Exactly the spectrum of abilities already recognized in this Hugo category:

3.3.8: Best Editor Short Form. The editor of at least four (4) anthologies, collections or magazine issues primarily devoted to science fiction and / or fantasy, at least one of which was published in the previous calendar year.

The present rule is not limited to editors of printed publications. It isn’t restricted to professional publications. Fiction semiprozine editors are already eligible for the award as presently defined. There will still be a Hugo recognizing their services if the Best Semiprozine category is eliminated.” –Mike Glyer, (in Post at File 770)

The new rules would protect the fanzines from becoming once again dominated by the semiprozines. Historically, this makes sense. The Semiprozine category was created to do just that. I applaud the efforts to be fair to the fanzines, but at the same time, I must cry foul when it comes to pushing the semiprozines into best editor short form. Mike illustrated my concern beautifully through another history lesson:

“People voted to divide the Best Editor category into Long Form and Short Form partly so that David Hartwell and Patrick Nielsen Hayden and other noted novel editors would share some of the glory going to magazine editors every single year.”

Semiprozines are being pushed into a category with people that even Patrick Nielson Hayden couldn’t beat. I fail to understand how this can be considered a fair solution. It is no different than pushing semiprozines into the fanzine category. Like it or not, there is a middle ground between fanzine and professional editor. It is a group of people who are significant contributors to our field and deserving of recognition for their accomplishments. For lack of a better name, they are the semiprozines, a group that since the inception of the category continues to grow and evolve. They should be encouraged, not squashed.

“What’s more, I gained the impression from my recent survey of semiprozine word rates, award-nominated stories that have appeared in them, and pro-published collections from them, that the semiprozine editors already regard themselves as in competition with larger but similar commercial enterprises like Asimov’s.” –Mike Glyer (in comments at File 770)

As the publisher/editor of a semiprozine fiction magazine, I don’t regard the professional editors (magazine or anthology) as direct competitors. Non-fiction magazines have even more distance from these editors. Fiction semiprozines publish far more newer authors than the “big three” (Source: Research by Sean Wallace on short stories published in 2008) and I don’t see that changing in the near future.

Believing that I should pay my authors does not make me a professional editor. I don’t get paid and in fact, most semiprozine editors make receive little to no financial compensation for their efforts. If this award goes to the editor, why should we focus on what the author is paid and ignore what the editor is paid? In my mind, a professional can make a living at what they do.

2 thoughts on “Save the Semiprozine – Part 2

  1. Neil: You’ve made a well-reasoned response to my point that will help people thoughtfully consider both sides of the issue.

    In continuation of the point made by your last paragraph, I thought it worth pointing out that some years ago the requirement for professional publication was deleted from the Hugo rules. For example, fiction need only be published, not purchased, to be eligible for a Hugo.

    You would know better than anyone else whether your goal is to have a financial return from your magazine. Either way, aren’t you a fiction editor?

  2. Thanks Mike. I’m not sure I see the point you are trying to make. Are you saying that all editors should be in one pile and that both semiprozine and fanzine should go away or are you suggesting that finances should play bigger role in the definition of the three categories? If it’s closer to the latter, it will be interesting to see what you think of tomorrow’s post.

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