On Online Magazines

First up, the boss man, Mr. Neil Clarke, has recently been interviewed by The Functional Nerds, a fine podcast. You can hear what he has to say here.

In addition Realms of Fantasy magazine has announced that it is once again closing for business. This is very sad, and as the official announcement says it is probably a result of the current economic downturn. However, I learned from Twitter that more privately (to his friends on Facebook) Warren Lapine has been blaming the fold on free online magazines such as Clarkesworld.

I’ve not seen what Warren actually wrote, and I suspect he’s mainly just a bit upset, but my own view is that if online magazines are doing better than print ones it is because they are more accessible rather than anything else. One of the main reasons that Clarkesworld has such good content is that we pay very well (and are picky about what we publish). And we are able to pay well because people give us money. It is a virtuous circle. The better the content you publish, the more money you get, and the better content you can afford.

That goes double for Salon Futura because we pay rather better for non-fiction than many print magazines. Often people who write book reviews get “paid” with the copy of the book they are reviewing. And I’ll never forget being told by the editor of one long-running print magazine that, as a fan, I should of course be happy to write for him for free. I hope that Salon Futura will establish that you can have good quality discussion of speculative literature online, not just the “my opinion” pieces we see from so many book review sites. Of course it will help if we get a few donations, because then we’ll be able to afford to pay better for the material.

14 thoughts on “On Online Magazines

  1. Yeah, the getting paid by getting free books can be really problematic. I get paid for my reviews (I review SF/F for RT Book Reviews), but I know that several of my reviewers do not and I believe that’s the case for most of their reviewers.

    Are there any plans to have transcripts available for the audio & video content in Salon Futura? I read the first two issues over this past weekend and was really disappointed to discover that I’d have to download additional files to get all the content (which was probably clear on the website, it’s just that I didn’t notice when I downloaded the epub files–which look great on my Nook, btw).

    1. Yeah, we are looking at doing transcripts, but it is work – someone will have to clean them up and format them, and I’ll need to pay that someone.

      The podcast is available as a free download through iTunes, and I’m hoping soon we’ll have an iPhone app that will stream both the audio and the video. I’d embed them in the EPUB, except that it would make the files huge and I’m not certain that anything other than an iPad would support the embedding as it isn’t (yet) part of the EPUb standard.

      1. Good to know that transcripts are coming–and I agree, they are a good deal of work (and I’m glad that it’s on your radar!). I did enjoy the bits I was able to read, though, and will definitely be reading future issues!

  2. I recommend you ask someone like Craig Gidney or Tempest Bradford (or, even better, both!) on AA authors’ recent releases in such spheres as spec fic, queer fic, and the middle-ground. There have been books like Hex and authors like G Winston James doing spec fic. Also conferences like Fire and Ink. Craig can also touch on some AA artists. I’d pay to read that.

  3. Yeah, it turns out that if you spend several years collecting money for magazines before vanishing, then popping back up to (re)start a magazine and then spend a whole year alienating your core audience, your magazine might go out of business, especially if you got it for super-cheap because it was already out of business.


  4. I’m not blaming the free internet magazines for ROF’s failure. Someone on Facebook asked me if I thought that the free online magazines might be playing a part in the demise of the print magazine, not in ROF’s demise in particular. And I responded that I do think they are playing a part in that demise, but I do not think that they are the deciding factor only a factor. But really if you can get the same quality online for free, why should you pay for it in print form? I no longer have a subscription to the newspaper because I can get that info for free. I’m not particularly angry or bitter, my other company Wilder Publications is doing quite well and I’m happy to be able to focus more of my attention on that now.
    Warren Lapine

  5. Hi there! Thanks for the link – we had a great time chatting with Neil on the Functional Nerds. He’s a great guy and I’ve no doubt we could’ve gone another hour easy had we all had the time. 🙂


  6. Several years ago at a Westercon I was on a panel about the current state of short fiction. I bemoaned the declining circulations of the magazines and expressed concern that there would be fewer and fewer markets for short fiction. I saw this as a bad thing because I strongly believe that short fiction is where newer writers hone their craft and develop an audience.

    A member of the audience took me to task and argued that online magazines are taking the place of the print magazines and that younger readers feel perfectly comfortable in getting their fiction in that manner.

    I have since come around to that audience member’s point of view. I believe that fiction at shorter lengths will find a home in the online magazines and that eventually the print magazines will either fold or transform into online formats.

    The problem at present is that online publications are still a medium in search of a business model, but I suspect that that is a problem that will work itself out within the next few years. Clarkesworld and Salon Futura may show the way.

  7. So Cheryl,

    You hear from twitter about something that might have been said on Facebook but which you can’t see for yourself or confirm, so you smear this guy’s name. Good stuff, keep up the good work.

    1. Well, no. I took something that was being said behind closed doors and made it public, making clear that I wasn’t sure who really said what. As a consequence, Warren was able to state his position in public (see above), which I’m delighted he did.

      Thank you for your drive-by trolling. I’m sorry you don’t have anything better to do with your life.

      1. Right, so instead of a private email asking him if comments attributed to him were factual, you decided to post the unsubstantiated comments on your blog, clearly tarnishing his image, and then allow him the awesome opportunity to leave a comment on your blog defending himself. It’s sad that you don’t see anything wrong with this.

        1. And what good would that do? People would go on talking behind his back. But presumably in your eyes that’s OK.

          But hey, if you have some reason to want to hate me, and consequently need to spend your time inventing ways in which I am evil, don’t let me spoil your fun. I’m sure you feel really brave posting rude comments without giving a full name.

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