Being the first Tuesday of the month, this is release day for the magazine I publish (Apex Magazine–edited by Catherynne M. Valente). It is our twenty-eighth issue. Almost two and a half years of science fiction, fantasy, and horror content published like clockwork.
Before the current incarnation of Apex Magazine, I both edited and published Apex Online (though I did edit the first fourteen issues of Apex Magazine). The difference is that Apex Online wasn’t strictly professional-level (paid 1-5 cents a word) and SFWA-certified. Apex Online started in 2006 and ran until mid-2008.
And prior to that was Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest, a print publication that ran for twelve issues over three years.
Since 2005, I estimate that I’ve published at least sixty-five issues of short fiction, most of that in digital format.
I’m told you should blog “what you know.” I, through attrition and stubbornness, know how to produce an issue of a magazine (in particular, digital issues). I can’t say it is a life skill that will ever make me rich or provide a living (though honestly you never can tell with how the internet changes the dynamics of publishing every few weeks), but it a skill that has granted me the opportunity to bring tons of great fiction (and nonfiction and poetry) to a growing reader base.
So you want to produce an ezine? Where do you begin? What do you need to do?
It is those kernels of wisdom that I hope to share the first Tuesday of every month to run concurrent with the release of each new issue of Apex Magazine. But I won’t make you wait a month to get the first piece of the puzzle. I’ll share that today.
The first and most important consideration when deciding to produce a genre short fiction ezine is to determine your target readers (actually, I’m certain this consideration is true of any periodical produced, but for the sake of keeping things simple, let’s assume our focus is always on genre short fiction). Do you publish classic science fiction, or do you venture into new weird? It sounds like such a simple notion that I’m sure many of you are thinking “Duh.” But here’s the thing–once you select your target, you’re going to have to stick with that choice. There is no turning back or changing your mind because you risk disrupting your brand. If you’ve been publishing classic-age science fiction and suddenly you switch to new weird, your reader base will not be happy and will likely desert you.
Readers are an impatient bunch. The internet is big and if you’re not scratching them in the right spot then they’ll go elsewhere to find the stuff they want.
With Apex Magazine, I decided I wanted to publish genre-bending, bleeding-edge fiction.
Next month, I’ll discuss the second most consideration when piecing together your ezine: choosing an editor.