Don’t Panic: Magazine Closings

It seems the only time I surface here is to mention markets that are closing. This week gave us the news that Talebones and Lone Star Stories were closing up shop. And to be completely clear, Talebones has a few new issues that are yet to be published, and then the magazine will be changing to an annual anthology. So, that’s not technically a market closing, but a market changing. Lone Star Stories, however, is closing for the forseeable future.

Of course, the announcement of a market closing gives way to the typical reactionary blog posts of how the market is dying and that there’s nowhere to send stories to anymore, etc. etc. etc. Prime Books publisher Sean Wallace has a nice round up of the discussion that’s going on.

In some ways, I was just going to ignore it all and continue on with my work. And then I saw that people were saying that my magazine, Electric Velocipede, was closed. Not closed to submissions (which it is until August 1) but closed. As in: ceased publishing.

This is not a new problem. People read and see what they want to read and see. A market mentions it’s going on hiatus, and everyone rings its death knell. I know that there is historical precedence on this, but do a little research before you start measuring the coffin, ok? Sometimes places need to close to submissions or go on a short hiatus while they catch up with projects or as they’re getting ready to launch a new project.

I find this whole thing maddening. Angering actually. I’ll have put out the equivalent of five issues of Electric Velocipede since temporarily closing to submissions and then re-opening to submissions. I will get to seven issues by the end of the year since temporarily closing to submissions. I’ve also been nominated for the World Fantasy award twice and the Hugo Award once. I did all of that on my own without the help of an assistant or any sort of lackeys.

Since then, I’ve added an assistant and I’ve negotiated a partnership with Night Shade Books so that I could focus on the editorial side of publishing the magazine. The magazine is now reaching a wider audience than it could with just me at the helm. I recently announced that I was re-opening to submissions. I’ve worked my way through the backlog and will need content for anything we publish after this year.

So, I’ve published at least two issues a year since 2001 (seven total published/to be published in 2008 and 2009 alone), been nominated for three major awards (in 2007, 2008, and 2009, all recent), and I just announced that I was going to be re-opening to submissions in August of this year. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like a market that’s closed. This year will end with the publication of issue #20, which sounds pretty damn cool to me.

And normally I don’t say anything because I don’t want to come across as a ‘poor me’ and ‘why won’t anyone pay attention to me’ whiner, but I’m sick and tired of seeing people saying things that are just wrong. I update my magazine’s blog and website constantly. Why don’t you check there first before you make an assumption about what’s happening with the magazine? As Neil Clarke (editor of Clarkesworld Magazine) says:

[I]s it really helpful to treat markets that are currently closed to submissions as if they are closed or probably closing? Seems potentially damaging to those markets and not the best way to make sure you have places to send stories in the future.

Neil also pointed out, via instant message, that going by what is listed on Ralan’s (an online market listing) that there’s been more than 600 markets that have closed since the year 2000. How have we survived these past nine years?

For people who bemoan markets closing or going on hiatus, have you bought an issue from them? A subscription? Donated some money? And don’t sit there and wag your finger at me about advertising, etc. I’ve worked for more professional magazines/publishers than most of you. I know how it works. But look around: have you noticed that a lot of your favorite magazines are thinner these days? Not as much advertising money out there as there used to be.

Finding people who want to advertise in a publication that’s predominantly text isn’t easy, either. I’ve worked my butt for years getting advertisers. A main component of partnering with Night Shade Books is to increase my audience so I can reach more advertisers so I can increase my audience. It’s very cyclical. If someone wants to help me in finding advertisers, please get in touch. We can work out a commission on your sales. But be aware, it will be a lot of work, so be ready to commit.

On a post I made to LiveJournal, there are comments from Apex magazine and Wheatland Press who both announced hiatuses earlier this year and have subsequently seen/heard discussion of how they’ve ceased to exist. This is despite both putting out new books and running tables in the dealer’s room at conventions.

It also seems that people forget the markets that are out there. I constantly see lists of existing markets and people never mention places like Weird Tales or Fantasy Magazine. There are interesting new markets out there like Beneath Ceaseless Skies or Clockwork Phoenix, too. And this doesn’t even take into consideration the fact that John Joseph Adams is editing what seems like a new anthology every other month (like the phenomenal Federations or the upcoming Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes) or Jetse de Vries’ upcoming Shine anthology of optimistic science fiction. Jonathan Strahan has also edited a number of excellent original science fiction anthologies lately. And we haven’t even gotten into non-genre markets that are open to genre-esque stories.

While it sucks to lose markets, particularly good markets like Lone Star Stories and Talebones (which, remember, is closing as a magazine to be reborn as an anthology), it isn’t as if there are no markets out there. And it sucks even more for the markets who are working hard to be written off the second they announce a hiatus/closing to submissions.

I’ll let you know when I’m closing up shop. Until you hear different, Electric Velocipede is here to stay.

[image from Flickr user Jim Linwood; CC licensed for commercial use]

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