Posted by Jason Sizemore on Oct 29, 2012 in Apex Publications Blog: Matters of SF, Fantasy, and Horror | 1 comment
One of the most common questions I am asked when I’m interviewed or cornered by a concerned reader at a convention goes something like this:
“Why do you run a genre zine?”
The short answer makes me sound like a virtuous soul. “Because I want to make a positive impact on the world in a tiny way.” The truth is way more complicated than that, and way less virtuous. I’ll condense the long version down for you with a series of words. Greed. Creativity. Glory. Impact. Outlet. Friendships. Experience. Maybe one day I’ll have the time to expound on the role these seven words plays in why I run a publishing company.
Since we’re doing an important subscriber drive for Apex Magazine, I want to focus on my short answer of “positive impact.”
The zines of the world like Apex Magazine, Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Daily SF, Lightspeed, etc. play a vital role in SF/F/H fandom.
1) We’re a source of genre entertainment.
This obvious role is also the most important one. If the content we produce does not entertain the readers, then the readers will find something shinier on the internet. I can speak personally that my #1 goal when I started Apex Magazine was to entertain people (#2 was not to lose my shirt because I knew I wasn’t going to get rich running a zine!).
Entertaining the masses is a noble and worthy role, right?
2) We’re a source of fandom conversation.
I’ll cite some examples.
The short stories, novelettes, and novellas we (collectively) publish earn award nominations, which in turn generates reams and reams of electronic bits toward discussions and arguments over the worthiness of said nominations.
Once in awhile, a story strikes the fandom zeitgeist and will create a bit of conversations (positive and negative). A story we recently published at Apex Magazine by Genevieve Valentine called “Armless Maidens of the American West” (issue 39) produced a nice bit of commentary on our site, on IO9, and in various email exchanges I had with readers. On a much broader scale, the story “Spar” (issue 37, Clarkesworld Magazine) by Kij Johnson produced many blog posts dissecting its controversial plot and award worthiness. Whether you love or hate “Spar” (I’m in the ‘love’ category), it generated a lot fandom discussion.
3) We can provide a fix for fans of certain authors
That sounds confusing, but let me put it like this–many magazines, particularly the pro-level zines like Apex, Clarkesworld, and Lightspeed, publish works by popular writers with sizable fan bases. This works out great for the zines. It works out great for the writers. It works out great for the readers.
From a personal standpoint, I hate having to wait for Catherynne M. Valente or J.M. McDermott’s next novel. Fortunately, both are prolific short fiction authors. Both also happen to be outstanding short fiction authors. The stories that appear in the zines are great bridges to their next full length work.
A good zine can be like regular little doses of crack.
4) We provide a small, but important revenue source for authors and editors.
If you’re a skilled enough short fiction writer (because all know selling to pro-level zines is tough and highly competitive), selling a story to a zine at 5-10 cents a word can be the difference between being able to pay your light bill for the month while the author waits on the next royalty check.
Nick Mamatas summarizes this well in his Apex book Starve Better. He states “Quick Money!”.
These are four answers to the question of why I run a genre zine.
These are also four important reasons why you should read, buy, and support genre zines. Pick a couple of your favorites. Buy a subscription from each. You’ll certainly enjoy the fiction (nonfiction/poetry/interviews), and like it or not, you’re contributing in a small way to the health of genre fandom.
Born the son of an unemployed coal miner in a tiny Kentucky Appalachian villa named Big Creek (population 400), Jason fought his way out of the hills to the big city of Lexington. He attended Transylvania University (real school with its own vampire) and received a degree in computer science. Since 2004, he has owned and operated Apex Publications. He is the editor of five anthologies, a Stoker and Hugo Award loser, an occasional writer, and usually can be found wondering the halls of hotel conventions seeking friends and free food. He currently has edited three titles for Apex: The Book of Apex: Volume 1 of Apex Magazine, The Book of Apex: Volume 2 of Apex Magazine, and The Zombie Feed, Volume 1.