Sunday, June 10, 2007

If I were to start my own ezine... Part 1

This came up on a forum I've been participating in, and I just wanted to duplicate my answer here. Much of the discussion actually focused on people strongly disliking certain types of writing that I happen to like and favoring types of writing that I'm less a fan of, but I'll leave that aspect out of this. First, though, I assure you that I'm not intending to start a magazine of any kind. To do it right I would want to have some significant money available at the start, which I don't have. And I just don't see myself as the type of person who would have the business sense and endurance to make it work, not without doing a lot of research (and marketing-type training) and giving up my own writing. So anyone can take these ideas and run with them.

Actually, these aren't even all my own ideas. Some of this comes from discussions I've seen on Nightshade forums (including links away from there to blogs that I found sparked some of these ideas...but which I've since forgotten), as well as other forums.

So here's some of what I've been thinking:

1) A known and respected person as editor (in-chief), someone whose name will mean something to both the target readers and the writers I'd like to submit. Jim Baen's name means something, and OK, he was never editing Universe, but for those that the name means a lot, Eric Flint probably will also. Same with Orson Scott Card for IGMS. And for its target audience (which I'd fall in line with more than the target audience of those other two), Clarkesworld does well to have Sean Wallace and Nick Mamatas attached to it. So who that name is will depend on the target audience. I'd probably also commission a few stories at least in the first few months from select writers to help give a sense of what I'd offer and what I was looking for, but I'd want it to be open to general submissions.


2) New content (almost) daily, though not a new story. It's something I think Strange Horizons gets right (or halfway right at least--I think they could be doing it better). I'd have new stories (and poems if the zine included poems) appear on a regular basis--every Monday or every Monday and Thursday. But I'd want other new content as often as we could pull it off, and a variety of content. I'll get into a few more in later points, but for now reviews are fine, as SH does--not just books, but movies, TV shows, video games (though for myself I usually skip those non-book reviews at SH). And also the occasional article or essay or interview. But also something...I'm not sure how to describe it. I've seen others refer to Boing Boing as an example--I haven't spent enough time there to know if it matches what I have in mind (the times I've visited it's been so tech-heavy it puts me to sleep), but something that's somewhere between a blog and a formal article from a handful of people with a vested interest in the magazine so that they don't need to be paid on a per-word or per-article basis. Again here, the names of the people could be helpful, and the target audience would help determine what kinds of things they might post. And the more of this new content without paying for it the better. It could be helpful to encourage those writers who have stories accepted to contribute in this way as well, though the logistics of that might not make it ideal.

3) Music. To give credit, this is inspired by Scott Sandridge's SpecFicMuse blog where he identifies good music to listen to while reading certain types of stories (and vice versa)--have a featured musical group every week, perhaps with an interview and definitely with streaming audio of a sample song. Present it to the musical group as a form of media exposure--not like stories where you have to pay the writer. So this would be free publicity for them and free content for the zine (assuming whoever does the interview or seeks out the musical groups is a part of the editorial team and willing to do it for free--otherwise it might have a small cost).

Numbers 4-7 next time!

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