Wednesday, June 13, 2007

If I were starting an ezine, part 2

I hope no one was kept awake waiting for this second part...

One thing I realize I didn't mention in what I posted on that other forum is the question of pay. I think there are worthy magazines out there that pay a low amount, and some of them grow enough to gradually increase that pay to a respectable amount, but I suspect that's rare. Well, success of any kind over many years is rare, but I'll argue that starting with a higher pay is better--you'll lose more money at the start, but you'll (hopefully) attract the kind of names to in turn attract the kind of audience to be successful. That's my theory anyway (there have been a few high-paying markets that have closed in the past few years, and a bunch to that have started...so it's hard to know how much the overall balance is). I'm not sure if I'd aim at 3 cents a word, earning at least semi-pro status or aim right away for pro status (Clarkesworld started with 10 cents a word, and Heliotrope started with 7 and is now up to 10, and IGMS and Baen's Universe both started out paying above the minimum for professional status). But somewhere in there would be ideal--between 3 and 10, the exact number depending on further research.

So, now for 4-7:

4) Art. I would want to pattern this after the music section--publicity for an artist who sells his/her work elsewhere so that the cost to the magazine is minimal (though you could certainly also have a specific artist who gets paid for the online equivalent of cover art as well). It'd be nice to be able to have a featured artist gallery every week, though if that got too much you could alternate it with music week by week.

5) Son and Foe method? I'd want to ask Jeremiah Sturgill about this one--I always thought (and still do) that the business idea of Son and Foe was a good one, that is the idea of having all the stories of the coming issue displayed at the start, and someone can pay to download the entire issue immediately or wait to read them as they come online for free. For some reason Son & Foe hasn't been successful, it would seem, but there may still be value in this. I would think that this would be only for the fiction (and poetry?), but then bundled with more extensive music of the featured musicians (and possibly additional art?) that's exclusive to the download. I'd resist the temptation to have any fiction be exclusive to the paid version.

The other non-fiction content would be too fluid to have it available in advance. I think I'd also go on a monthly basis for this, though maybe not--if I have to wait 2 1/2 months for a story I think I'll like, then I might be more tempted to shell out the money, whereas if I only have to wait 3 weeks, I might be more patient. Hmm.

6) Chapbooks? Again I'd want to talk to other editors to see how this goes for them. Clarkesworld does limited runs of signed chapbooks--do they sell enough to make it worth it? I don't know. Heliotrope is going to experiment with chapbooks starting with issue 4 also, I believe. So their experiences could help with this decision (if they'd be willing to share them, that is).

7) Ads. This is what #2, 3, & 4 are leading to. I don't like ads. I'm the type to read Adbusters--in fact, read my "Sports Fable Press" for my feelings about how advertising can take over our lives. But from a business standpoint, I think they'd be necessary, and with the new content coming up everyday and the broad multi-media focus (music, art, fiction, non-fiction, and especially the not-blog-posts/not-articles), I think you'd get enough unique visitors to be able to charge a reasonable amount for the ads. As someone on that forum pointed out, there's a question of demographics with SF/F ads--so that would be part of the planning as well when considering the target audience. Ideally publishers would be a strong part of that, but would they have the budgets to be enough? Probably not. I'd do all I could to keep the ads unobtrusive...but still of value to the advertisers.

I'd love to hear other comments on this--counter arguments, other things to consider, etc. Let me know!

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