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MaryRobinette
Posted on Saturday, June 11, 2005 - 10:50 pm:   

Announcing a new online speculative fiction magazine, publishing quarterly. Now accepting submissions for the October 2005 issue. This is a paying market.

http://www.shimmerzine.com

What we want: Speculative fiction, broadly defined. We are more concerned with compelling stories than with genre boundaries. We like unusual stories, but we like them told with strong ideas, strong plot, and strong character development. We favor stories that are dark, funny, strange, or all three.

Length: Fiction up to 5000 words. Query for longer pieces, serials or other oddities.

Rights and Payment: $5.00 for each piece we publish. We purchase First Serial rights and electronic rights.

Send your manuscript as an attachment (.doc or .rtf) to submissions@shimmerzine.com. Make sure the subject line begins with Submission and has the title of your story.

For full submission guidelines go to http://www.shimmerzine.com/submission-guidelines/
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Nuke
Posted on Sunday, June 12, 2005 - 01:12 pm:   

It's a dessert toping. It's a floor wax.

You're both wrong. It's a speculative fiction magazine!

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MaryRobinette
Posted on Sunday, June 12, 2005 - 04:16 pm:   

It may not be a dessert toping, but I'll happily admit that I tope with dessert when I'm out socially. I would never indulge in toping before editing, though.

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=toping
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Dave
Posted on Monday, June 13, 2005 - 08:38 am:   

The difference between a non-paying zine and one that pays $5 is thinner than a five-dollar bill. Is it just an ego boost for the writer to be able to say they "sold" their story?

IMO, anything less than $25 isn't worth the bother. With $25 you can take a friend out to an inexpensive resturant to "celebrate" your sale, or maybe buy your favorite author's latest hardback.
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MaryRobinette
Posted on Monday, June 13, 2005 - 12:17 pm:   

Yes, Dave. It is an ego-boost and it's what we can afford to pay for the first issue. The goal is to raise the fee, but this is how much of a loss we can afford for the startup.

With $5 you can buy a latte.
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Loki
Posted on Monday, June 13, 2005 - 12:19 pm:   

It never ceases to amaze me that magazines don't include a decent wage for writers in their start-up costs. Considering the damn thing wouldn't exist without the writers.

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Tim Pratt
Posted on Monday, June 13, 2005 - 12:34 pm:   

Speaking as an editor who pays $10 per story, I can sympathize. If I had to pay $25 per story, I wouldn't be able to afford to do a 'zine at all. It's different if you're a for-profit publication, I guess, but Flytrap doesn't even break even, so it's not like I'm skimping on paying the writers and chortling as I caress myself with thousand dollar bills. A respected small magazine can provide some exposure, prestige, etc. I've had stories published in ten buck markets go on to be multiply reprinted, appear in Year's Best anthologies, etc., so there are other possible benefits. And I still submit to some such magazines, even though I regularly place stories in better-paying markets, too. And in theory small magazines can provide a home for more ambitious/weirder/innovative stories that might not otherwise find an outlet.

If you're writing short stories for the money, you're probably in the wrong business.

Of course, a low-paying magazine isn't automatically edgy and innovative and prestigious and worth submitting to, but I wouldn't dismiss a magazine solely on the basis of low pay.
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Brendan
Posted on Monday, June 13, 2005 - 12:55 pm:   

I agree with Tim. Actually, I really don't mind not getting paid for material. My one rule though (not that I dont sometimes break it), is only to submit reprints to non (low) paying on-line markets. The reason for this is that if I am not getting paid for it, I generally at least want to have a piece of paper in my hands.

I think too many on-line markets make the mistake of not taking reprints, when, for me, they are the perfect place for them. Much better a good reprint that many (most) people have never read than a second rate piece of unpublished fiction.
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MaryRobinette
Posted on Monday, June 13, 2005 - 01:03 pm:   

"It never ceases to amaze me that magazines don't include a decent wage for writers in their start-up costs. Considering the damn thing wouldn't exist without the writers."

Loki, I agree with you if you're talking about markets that don't pay the writer anything. I'm a writer, too, and I won't submit to a market unless it's a paying market. I'm also realistic enough to recognize that small presses a)don't have the circulation numbers to pay higher fees and b) are probably paying some of it out of their own pocket like Flytrap. I've got a story sitting in the slushpile at Flytrap right now, in fact, because $10 is enough for me to know that the editors take writers seriously.

We offer $5 as an honorarium; no one is going to pretend that it's a wage. Think of it as a practical thank you.

The editor is paying for this issue out of her own pocket. She has to sell 52 copies to break even (website costs + paying writers) and this is how much she can afford to lose. If it goes well, she wants to raise the amount we pay writers for the next issue.
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MaryRobinette
Posted on Monday, June 13, 2005 - 01:08 pm:   

Brendan, that's a good point about the reprints. I'll talk to Beth (the editor) about it.
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Dave
Posted on Monday, June 13, 2005 - 03:01 pm:   

IMO, there is no difference between submitting to a non-paying market and one that pays $5 or $10. Announcing "This is a paying market" is a stretch.

That doesn't mean writers shouldn't submit. It just means that other factors should be considered. For example:

- What's the likely readership? If only a dozen people will read it then why bother? I expect Shimmer will have a very limited number of readers--why would readers pay $3.50 for the first issue when there are sites like SCI FICTION, Strange Horizons and many more that offer great stories for free?

- Does the web site look professional? If not then it won't reflect well on my story.

- What's the background and reputation of the editor? Will they give you some feedback if your story is borderline? Will they make suggestions to improve the story?

I'll admit don't know much about what it takes to create a successful webzine, but I wonder how many started by charging a subscription?

I think "Deep Magic" offers a modestly successful model. They put out a professional looking PDF zine with reprints of excellent artwork and original fiction. They targeted a niche audience and slowly developed a loyal readership that supports the zine with donations. They have just gone from being a non-paying market to paying $25 for stories.
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MaryRobinette
Posted on Monday, June 13, 2005 - 03:17 pm:   

Thanks for your thoughts. I'll take a look at Deep Magic.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Monday, June 13, 2005 - 03:34 pm:   

Hmm, so taking work for free from writers for several years before paying anyone -- especially when we're still just talking about $25 -- is better than paying a little bit right up front? Not to this monkey.
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JV
Posted on Monday, June 13, 2005 - 06:03 pm:   

But you're an Evil Monkey.

JV
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bluejack
Posted on Monday, June 13, 2005 - 06:27 pm:   

The difference between $0 and $5, or even between $0 and $25 may not be much in terms of money, but in a similar vein to your "Does the web site look professional?" question, the mere fact that the editors are paying anything is an important step up the ladder to respectability.

Now, admittedly, most anyone who wants to call themselves a publisher can scrape together enough cash to buy a few stories a month for $5 each, and pretty much anyone with a job could manage the $25 level. But the point is, many don't. Perhaps some genuinely can't afford $5 per story, but that's hard to imagine, unless they're doing like 20 stories a month. But more likely, they don't have enough faith in themselves to be organized enough to actually pass out the payment. Or, possibly, they just don't value what they are doing enough to think it's worth paying for.

In short: as a writer, any payment gives me a lot more confidence in a publication than no payment. I am more ready to believe the publishers and editors are serious about what they are doing.

As a publisher, I would look at the company my pay rate puts me in, and see if I am comfortable in that company. There are a fair number of pretty shaky publications that pay in the 5-10 / story range, but there are a few reputable ones as well. If it's absolutely not possible to increase the pay, I would look at what else can be done to distinguish me from the competition. Usually, this comes down to who's doing the publishing, and what kind of authors they get for the debut issue. I believe LCRW pays something on the order of $10 per story, yet it is a pretty distinguished market, among a certain set.

Also note, paying more doesn't necessarily guarantee better submissions for this same reason: once writers start submitting their work to markets outside the "pro" category, most of them with any credits to their name will be looking to ensure that the market is respectable. Having your good fiction floating around some second-rate geocities zine isn't worth $10, $25, or (unless you're in desperate straits) $100. Many writers will retire it until new markets come along, or they're ready to publish their next collection.

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Ahmed A. Khan
Posted on Wednesday, June 15, 2005 - 09:27 am:   

First, congratulations to Mary and Beth on this new venture. I wish you success.

About the payment thingy, I tend to agree with what bluejack and Brendan said. I, for one, would not mind submitting to Shimmer if Shimmer accepted reprints.

Best.

Ahmed
http://ahmedakhan.journalspace.com
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MaryRobinette
Posted on Wednesday, June 15, 2005 - 10:19 pm:   

Thank you, Ahmed. If we begin accepting reprints, I'll swing by your website and let you know.

One side effect of this discussion has been to make us look at the feasibility of moving up our plans to have a print version.

The business plan said that we'd go to print in year two, but we've found a model that we think will let us have a print version this October. By print, I mean along the lines of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, not a glossy. I won't bore you with the details.

I'm sure there will be more discussion about the folly of this notion.
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Brendan
Posted on Wednesday, June 15, 2005 - 10:55 pm:   

Mary - Go for print if you can. I think a little chapbook thing like Elecric Velocipede is much more appealing than a web site - even one that pays. Electric Velocipede and LCRW attract good writers - a webzine, unless it pays at least 5 cents a word, could not do the same. And also you have the advantage of having a physical product.

The key really though is

1) good writers
2) good design

Also, magazines get reviewed. Webzines don't.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 06:41 am:   

Brendan,
Webzines certainly do get reviewed.</i>, are regularly reviewed. If you put out an excellent product, and get the word out, it will get reviewed. Simple as that.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 06:42 am:   

Brendan,
Webzines certainly do get reviewed. SCI FICTION and Strange Horizons are regularly reviewed. If you put out an excellent product, and get the word out, it will get reviewed. Simple as that.
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Brendan
Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 07:06 am:   

Ellen - These are exceptions though. They are also both professionally paying, arent they? At least yours is.

My own experience is that, though I have had quite a bit of material published on webzines, it has never, never been reviewed. My own material that is. In print on the otherhand sometimes my stuff gets mentioned.

So, that is just my experience. Maybe others have found being published on the web more fulfilling.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 08:29 am:   

They're not exceptions. As you say, they're professionally published. As are the print magazines that get reviewed regularly. It's the professionalism that counts (and I don't just mean money) but the content--not the venue.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 08:33 am:   

Brendan,
A quick look at Tangent Online shows that they cover a bunch of webzines. There aren't that many venues that review short fiction --Tangent Online, The Fix (which hasn't published more than an issue a year and hasn't had one out in 05), and Locus. Are there other magazines I'm missing that regularly publish short fiction reviews?
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des
Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 08:39 am:   

Whether webzines are reviewed or not, professional or not, they are still webzines, not books or magazines. des
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 08:51 am:   

Des,
And your point is?
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des
Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 08:59 am:   

Well, Ellen, people have views on webzines and what they get out of them, and on books/magazines and what they get out of them, for whatever reason (justified or not, but based on taste and provenance). Any degree of professionalism or 'reviewability' of either webzines or books/magazines does not change the difference between them as vehicles for fiction reading.

I, for one, will enjoy a story in a book more than I do the identical story in a webzine, generally speaking.
des
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Brendan
Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 09:06 am:   

Ellen - Hmm. Actually, now that I think of it, most of the short fiction I have had reviewed has been in anthologies, in which case of course there are a ton of venues that do reviews (anthologies being books). So, maybe you have me there.

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bluejack
Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 11:09 am:   

I review short fiction in the Internet Review of Science Fiction. I do my best to focus on the markets that publish fiction worth commenting on, rather than the format. I cover slicks, digests, small-press staple-bound, e-books, and web zines.

I will say that the barrier to entry for web publishing is so low that there are a tremendous number of web publications that give web publishing a bad reputation. Seems like everyone wants to be an editor for a couple of months, the publication comes on with grandiose claims and big visions, and peters out after a couple of issues. But the fact that there are a lot of flaky webzines "publishing" mediocre stuff shouldn't detract from the web-based publications that regularly and reliably publish not just good stuff, but *important* stuff.

These tend to be the ones that get reviewed.
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scifantastic
Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 11:17 am:   

Des - me too. Still prefer print to zines, it's just more enjoyable - and easier on the eyes.

But there are so many zines who work so hard on their designs to make online reading dynamic and pleasurable, with features that print just can't compete with.

Deep Magic is one and Penumbric, still miss that one, was another.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 11:29 am:   

bluejack,
That happens in print publishing too, if you include the horror field. Everyone thinks they want to edit, having no clue as to what it entails.
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Brendan
Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 03:01 pm:   

Ellen - It is true, but there are many many more e-zines than print zines right now. Look at the markets on ralan.com. About 70 or 80 percent seem to be webzines. So, judging by the numbers, the idea that the threshold is lower might have legs.
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Ahmed A. Khan
Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 03:31 pm:   

Speaking of good webzines, I would like to mention one that has not been mentioned so far in this thread - Anotherealm (http://www.anotherealm.com). I like this one -and not just because they have published some of my stories.

Ahmed
http://ahmedakhan.journalspace.com
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Anna Tambour
Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 06:41 pm:   

There's a degree of unreality in this conversation. Curling up with a story that you can physically turn the pages of and smell, is of course more enjoyable than reading it online. The issue, though, is access. Des, your attitude is actually funny, since you produce a publication that is almost impossible for anyone to buy from you. What's that do for prospective readers, and how does that support the writers you publish? And then we come to other small-run publications, and even ones with not such small runs. Questions: print-run, distribution, efforts to create and maintain public awareness, cost to read? In short, as a writer, you must think in terms of readers, not the satisfaction you might feel from holding a printed publication in your hand, or seeing it online, just anywhere. Are readers (the ones you respect and crave) likely to have the opportunity to read your piece? Do you like and respect the venue, the other pieces in it, its reputation? Do you even know its reputation? If you like more than anything to have your contributor's copy to flash around and feel good about, then you must be honest to yourself and realise that you are not concentrating on wanting readers. Small print publications that I like have an online presence, too. And not only that. They feature whole pieces online, which both gives a chance for people to find out about them, and increases the writers' readership.
There is a snobbism against works published on the internet that is based on prejudice. It is an old-fart attitude that is missing when it comes to , say, journalists, who are now seriously assessing print, with sweat running down their faces. Sure, there's crap out there, but there's also excellence and risk-taking, and an internationality that is rarely present (impossible to equal, really) in the contributors to and the readers of, print publications. And as for quality, print means quality? Even when it comes to graphics, this is hardly the truth. The cost of reading is also a factor that should not be sniffed at. There are quite a few excellent on-line sites that don't even have graphics as part of their mix to make them quality, and they are a pleasure to read because they have put effort into presentation--meaning legibility. Many websites fail in this because they try too hard and somehow haven't grasped that, say, small yellow type on black is a tear-jerker, literally.

an example of excellence that hasn't been mentioned:
infinity plus is outstanding in both content and format (which is entirely simple)
http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/

I like snail mail letters more than email. But that doesn't mean that I am going to say that email stinks. Web presence is very much like comparing snail mail and email. There's lots of crap email letters written--thoughtless and sloppy, and yet there is also the opportunity to communicate deeply and with people one would never have had the opportunity to, before. It's not the medium. It's what you do with it.
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Anna Tambour
Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 08:01 pm:   

Quantum Muse is another excellent online publication, in my opinion.
http://quantummuse.com/
They use a tip jar. Does anyone know how successful tip jars are? I ask this question because the idea of asking people to pay for Shimmer (and it looks like they're to pay for a pdf?) is, I think, not one that will work, especially if the idea is to pay for a pdf. Even the quality publications that are well-known haven't, to my knowledge, made pay-to-view work. But does anyone have knowledge of these options and their success?
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Jonathan Laden
Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 10:58 pm:   

Almost every webzine or printzine that's ever been created has lost its founders money - whether they pay for the fiction or not. The loss grows exponentially if one chooses to consider the opportunity cost of the founders' time and what else they could be doing instead.

For some reason, people do it anyway, and find it worthwhile despite the economics all arguing against. Hey, publishers are alot like writers that way.

This is a long way of saying the following: submit your stuff or don't to nonpaying or low-paying markets, BUT thinking the publishers are disrespecting writers by offering the option to submit is absolutely incorrect. They really don't deserve your criticism, in my opinion.

Disclaimer: I've sold to, and offered, low-paying markets. (It's still a sale even if they don't pay a penny.) A bit offputting when the postage for submitting costs more than the potential jackpot payout I'll admit, but it's been well worth it.
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des
Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 11:26 pm:   

In many ways, I am an old fart, but books are books and can last forever and all the copies of the thing I publish (which gives generous payment (in Small Press terms) to writers whatever the wordage) are made to look nice and feel nice and last forever and all will eventually be sold and be out there until the planet explodes ... ie like most books.

I can appreciate the value of some websites (like Infinity Plus) and emails. The Internet is a wonderful communication and disssemination and friend-gathering place - I said no different.

But regarding fiction presentation for *reading* it ... Webzines are webzines. Books are books. And no amount of professionalism or reviewability will change that. That's all I said.
des
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Brendan
Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 11:29 pm:   

Anna - It is not so much a snobbism as a simple reality: The few print publications remaining are, more or less, better than the average webzine.

I have had tons of stuff published on web zines, and a lot of it is just lost in hyper space. This does not mean I won't continue to have stuff published this way, but, given a choice, between say, submitting a story to Elecric Velocipede, a print zine I both like and respect, but which does not pay, and an on-line publication that pays 10 dollars or something close enough to zero - a place where my story will probably be read by a maximum of 10 or 20 people, I will go for EV any day.

There are also very low budget rags like Idiot's Manifesto. It costs a dollar to buy and has some very good short stuff in it. This kind of thing I respect more than a lot of webzines, even with slick designs. It seems less ephemeral.
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Brendan
Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 11:34 pm:   

And I agree with Des a million percent about books. I collect books, and have many that are over 100 years old. A 100-year old webzine? Fuhgitaboutit.
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Anna Tambour
Posted on Friday, June 17, 2005 - 01:11 am:   

Brendan, I agree with you completely when you compare a quality print zine with some obscure, poor-quality webzine that is so bad that it will 'probably be read by a maximum of 10 or 20 people.' Who wouldn't? But I wasn't saying web is better. I was saying to examine the publication, its quality, its reach, and its likelihood to reach readers you want to reach. The ephemeral that you speak of with web publications is definitely a pain and a reality. I used to be a frequent and prominent presence in both the fiction and poetry in Elsevier Science's HMS Beagle. Though it was only an online magazine, it was visually stunning and a wonderful read, with a readership, according to the people who ran it, of about 40,000 people every two-week issue. The magazine lost heaps of money, as Jonathan Laden so accurately pointed out as norm, and since Elsevier isn't run by those who do it out of love and insanity, they pulled the plug, first on the fiction and poetry, saying something to the effect that scientists don't read fiction. The magazine was turned into a me-too trade rag with pay-to-view features, and even that died inevitably. Though the HMS Beagle looked better than most print mags and had an incredibly impressibe archive, even its archives are wiped now. So I have no tattered pages to clutch in remembrance. Waaah, but I expected that, as it was a ride almost too good to be true. But I did have one helluva readership then, of exactly the people I was looking to connect with--people around the world in all walks of life. The purpose of establishing infinity plus, I understand, was to allow new readers to find stories that otherwise, are locked in those tattered mouldering printed copies of old books and magazines. I also like Electric Velocipede. Given the choice, I would love to not only clutch my own copy, but know that thousands of other people are clutching theirs, or at least will find out about the publication and be moved to want to obtain it. The work that John Klima is putting into supporting EV on the web is the right thing to do, I think, and I thank him for it, especially since the whole act of him publishing EV is, like other dedicated publishers and their partners in insanity, authors, it is an act of love, for it isn't to make money. Des, you do give generous payment, and Nemonymous is obviously an act of generous-spirited dedication, to say the least. But you would do a better job for it if you weren't so against commercialism to the extent of making it unfeasable to impossible to buy this internationally.
Finally, Brendan, you say, 'The few print publications remaining are, more or less, better than the average webzine.' In at least one case I can think of, the online presence of the magazine is quite a lot more professional-looking and attractive than its surprisingly tacky-looking actual printed magazine.
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Anna Tambour
Posted on Friday, June 17, 2005 - 01:48 am:   

Des, I'm not just picking on you about the lack of wanting to sell your publications to those would like to buy. There are many small publishers who put international sales in the too-hard basket.
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Brendan
Posted on Friday, June 17, 2005 - 02:35 am:   

Anna - No, you are right. Often the print things are not so nice.

I got a contributor's copy of a zine today that I was not that impressed with. Such is life.

In the end you have to make use of the resources available. Readership is the bottom line. If a web source can attract a readership, then great. I suppose a lot of the problem is that, with all publication efforts, a readership is not a given. Editors and publishers have to work for it.
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MaryRobinette
Posted on Friday, June 17, 2005 - 02:52 am:   

Goodness. I'm going to join the conversation about the issues being raised now, but not as a representative of Shimmer, per se.

One of the reasons that I didn't think asking people to purchase a .pdf was unreasonable is because that's how I read F&SF and Asimov's. I don't buy them at the newstand; I download them to my PDA. (Granted, they have a long and respectable track record while Shimmer isn't even a flash in the pan yet.) I have a deep love of paper, probably left from my days as an art major, and, as such, would prefer a print zine purely for tactile reasons, but I take my PDA with me everywhere. Back when I took F&SF as a print magazine, the issues would pile up before I had time to get through them.

The fact that I read them in electronic form has not changed the quality of the writing, nor has it change the degree to which I am sucked into a story. As many, many other people here have said, it's not the format, it's the quality of the contents.

I also think that Ms. Tambour's point about the size of audience is a very good one. One of the lovely things about F&SF is that they are available in a number of formats.

So, putting my Shimmer badge back on I'll just mention an effect of this thread. After much discussion, we've decided to offer Shimmer in two formats: print and .pdf. Both will be for purchase, although the .pdf will be priced less. (We don't have the print version posted on the website yet.)

We'll let you know what happens.
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des
Posted on Friday, June 17, 2005 - 04:06 am:   

But you would do a better job for it if you weren't so against commercialism to the extent of making it unfeasable to impossible to buy this internationally.

I don't necessarily agree with the implication behind that (that's for another thread), but I think the distribution circumstances of a particular book is not relevant to the general point I made. Each book has its own (ie from only 50 copies of the hardback version of 'Weirdmonger' to any mass market book that may be distributed worldwide in millions).

This compares with a webzine that could be read on a screen from one person to potentially the whole world's population amid the ephemeral Tower of Babel that the internet has become.

None of the above facts alter any of the argument.
des
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des
Posted on Friday, June 17, 2005 - 04:25 am:   

BTW, I never intended to give the impression I'm rubbishing webzines. My first post:

"Whether webzines are reviewed or not, professional or not, they are still webzines, not books or magazines."


If I'd wanted to rubbish them I would have said:

"Whether webzines are reviewed or not, professional or not, they are still only webzines, not books or magazines."

des



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T Andrews
Posted on Friday, June 17, 2005 - 08:46 am:   

As a reader, I prefer books. I love the physicality of them. To see my wall-space become eaten by yet another bookcase is a thrill.

(I feel compelled to point out that one of my bookcases holds four Nemo's that made it across the pond to my little Canadian home with remarkable ease and promptness.)

Bottom line, though: it's the quality of story that matters most, and I can find that quality often from online sources, SciFiction being the first that comes to mind.
Both print and web have their gems and their refuse. Long may they both thrive!


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Anna Tambour
Posted on Friday, June 17, 2005 - 04:14 pm:   

As a reader, I prefer books too, and even mouldering magazines. They are like The Blob in my house, having taken up all available and should-be-unavailable space. But they are a costly addiction, and an exclusive one, when one compares the personal joy of holding, say, an old cookbook complete with stains, or Little Baron Trump and his Wonderful Dog Bulger, to reading it online for the cost of being online, if it is online. As for contemporary books, I would possibly have more (ugh) if I could read more by the authors to decide whether to shell out on them. Living in Australia, a physicality-based reading material addiction is a more expensive disease than, say, UK,the USA and Canada. But the world is the readership now. South Africa and India included, where the web is just as much a blessing. As for Des, I am not disparaging you, Des. I imagine that you would be likely to send me a Nemo at your own expense to solve the problem of me not having access to pounds sterling here in rural New South Wales, Australia. You are dedicated to producing a quality magazine, and put your heart and soul into it, and I know that you wouldn't dally with any orders. But you should (unless you've done it and I am not up to date) figure out a way to allow payment with credit card or Paypal, or something that allows international currency exchange. That way, it doesn't matter where we live. We can enjoy holding your beautiful Nemonymouses.
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Anna Tambour
Posted on Friday, June 17, 2005 - 05:19 pm:   

And as for "For $3.50, you will receive..."
For US$3.50.
Yeah, Ms Tambour can be a bitch. She is fed up with getting "free shipping" spam offers from Amazon, etc, which are We Are The World, and Australia isn't in it. She is fed up with having to go to Thomas Cook during her forays to Sydney once a year, just to trade some Australian dollars for American greenbacks, so she can send them through the post to little magazines in the States that can't handle international transactions. But she isn't too much of a bitch to wish you luck, Ms Robinette. I can't see how you're going to position yourself to compete successfully with established, good-paying free sites, let alone established magazines with good reputations, but, hell, you might have some wonderful stuff lined up and a great vision that I just don't see.
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MaryRobinette Kowal
Posted on Friday, June 17, 2005 - 05:44 pm:   

After I posted last night I started thinking about the whole, "Why should I buy an online magazine when there's free stuff?" How different is that from, "Why should we pay authors when people are willing to send us their stuff for free?"

Forget our zine for the moment.

I mean, we are talking about work here and supporting writers. It's great that there are sites like SciFiction, but they are underwritten. Someone, somewhere, has to be willing to pay for the stories. What's wrong with asking the people who read them to pay for the pleasure?

(Whether or not they will, is a different question, but one we'll hopefully be able to tackle with marketing.) I just don't understand why people seem to be upset by the idea of charging for content.
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Anna Tambour
Posted on Friday, June 17, 2005 - 06:09 pm:   

I'm not upset at the idea of charging for content. I'm just asking the question: How successful is this proposition likely to be? To my knowledge, this concept has not been accepted by the public enough to make it a viable proposition, if that is what's needed to fund your venture. I asked the question of anyone out there who has current knowledge of these trends.
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MaryRobinette Kowal
Posted on Friday, June 17, 2005 - 06:56 pm:   

Oops. I understood that. This was just a thought that occurred to me in the middle of the night. It's just coincidence that I posted it right after yours. Sorry, about that.
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Brendan
Posted on Friday, June 17, 2005 - 11:48 pm:   

Mary - I think Anna is right on this one. On a web level I think it is near impossible for a start up zine to gain paying subscribers. I have seen a number of people try this same concept and I don't think any of their zines lasted more than 2 issues.

Almost nobody is willing to pay for internet content. For paper, yes. For internet content, no.
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des
Posted on Saturday, June 18, 2005 - 12:51 am:   

Yes, Anna, I have sent many gifts of Nemos in the past to jungles and polar regions. ;-)
Re Books, I have so many books and magazines I want to read and are here to read that I will not have time to read them all before I die, whenever i'm likely to die.
So why should I waste my time on any website fiction? And even if they daren't say it, most people are like this, I suggest, to a lesser or greater degree.
Again, I'm not rubbishing webzines. And I'm sure I shall be missing some great fiction on some admirably professional websites, but what I'm saying above I'm sure is the case. Those who agree with me are not vocal.
des
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des
Posted on Saturday, June 18, 2005 - 01:00 am:   

'Most people' above = please read 'many people'.

Those who agree with me are not vocal.

Either because it's politically incorrect to say so or, more likely, they're rarely on-line, if at all.
des


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des
Posted on Saturday, June 18, 2005 - 01:21 am:   

Sorry another rider to above;

I feel that a big percentage of the population (extrapolating from my own circle of friends and relations and people I am aware of) have never heard of message boards or webzines and wouldn't dream even of looking for them (the most they do on-line is banking and send family emails, if they've got the internet at all) -- but most of these people, nevertheless, are avid readers of books and fiction in general. None of these will be joining in this discussion, I'm afraid. This rider is not necessarily an argument for my thesis about "webzines against books/magazines" above but for why none of these people would be vocal about the subject on a message board!
des
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MaryRobinette Kowal
Posted on Saturday, June 18, 2005 - 10:17 am:   

Setting my affiliation with Shimmer aside for the moment--Brendan, I don't disagree with Anna or you, however, I am interested in a dialogue about why, "Almost nobody is willing to pay for internet content. For paper, yes. For internet content, no." Why do you think that is? It seems, to me, as if it is something that will have to change in the future (oooh, SF-land) much the same way that television, and now radio, offer free programming, and yet a lot of people pay for cable.

If it were strictly the tangibility of the content, then people would only buy video tapes/DVDs instead of paying for programming that they can't own. I know these are apples and oranges, but intellectually they seem related. Please understand, I am not trying to say that "people will pay," I'm merely interested in why they won't.
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Brendan
Posted on Saturday, June 18, 2005 - 02:35 pm:   

Mary - Because, for those interested in reading on-line content, there is tons of stuff offered for free. I mean, a few people might pay, if you offered them authors they followed avidly, but I suspect that you won't be able to intice these sort of writers with the pay rate.

The question should not be "why won't they pay" as much as "why will they".

What will you offer to make people feel they really must read Shimmer?

Even for print, it is far from a given that people will buy something. Chances are still very much against you even breaking even. But as far as people actually paying to be able to download a magazine without a track record - well, I doubt this will happen.

And I will tell you why I think this: I have had work published in a few such ventures before. I now regret it, because, yes I got a few bucks to buy coffee with, but now those stories cannot be published in most markets, because they are reprints. And how many people read them? 2, 3, 5, 10? Not much more then that, I am pretty sure.

Even cool little zines like Lady Churchills and EV have been around for some years now, and still I suspect have very limited subscriber bases. I would be surprised if each was more than 200. And they are actually publishing known writers.

Bottom line: What is your content? There are litterally hundreds of free e-zines out there, many of which have good content. So how do you plan to set your's apart? Because it actually has to be pretty much better than Scifiction and Fantastic Metropolis - since both are free - for people to even consider paying.

Sorry if I sound a bit harsh, but I suspect that you actually are interested in people's opinions since you have persued these questions.
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MaryRobinette Kowal
Posted on Saturday, June 18, 2005 - 03:14 pm:   

I keep trying to stress here that I'm not speaking of Shimmer. I understand and grant all of those points. Really. You aren't being harsh. Those are the realities facing any new venture.

But, I really, really, truly, am interested in the broader question of why people are not willing to pay for online content. I suppose I should just log in with a different user name to ask. :-) Ah well.

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Les We Forget
Posted on Saturday, June 18, 2005 - 06:44 pm:   

I'm a bit puzzled as to why Mary's admirable venture is getting a little bit of a hard time.

Shouldn't we be supporting this?

Yes, there are issues at stake, but when someone is trying to make things work, ideally for the benefit of us all, shouldn't we be endorsing it?

I'm puzzled by what, surely, is hostility towards this commendable effort.
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Alan Yee
Posted on Saturday, June 18, 2005 - 07:30 pm:   

"Even cool little zines like Lady Churchills and EV have been around for some years now, and still I suspect have very limited subscriber bases. I would be surprised if each was more than 200. And they are actually publishing known writers."

Just for the record, I believe LCRW (Gavin & Kelly) said recently under "Not a Journal" on their website that they are in the 600-1,000 circulation category. Their ad rates page said under 1,000, and someplace else, maybe Writer's Market or Novel & Short Story Writer's Market, said they have a circulation of around 700.

One time, several months ago, I queried Gavin and he said they pay $20 for stories and $10 for poems. I seem to have deleted that e-mail, but I distinctly remember the numbers. I'm thinking it was in August or early in the school year.
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Alan Yee
Posted on Saturday, June 18, 2005 - 07:31 pm:   

It's the quality that matters most.
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bluejack
Posted on Saturday, June 18, 2005 - 11:07 pm:   

Mary's fundamental question is an important one: "Why aren't people willing to pay for online content?"

I don't think anyone has the answer to this, but here are some observations:

(1) People *are* willing to pay for online content, when they need it and there's no other way to obtain it. However, "need" and "fiction" rarely work together.

(2) There is so much high-quality stuff available for free, that when someone tries to charge for stuff, it almost seems like an affront. From a reader's perspective: why should I pay for your crummy little zine, when there's SciFiction for free?

(3) The dynamics of using the Internet are profoundly, viscerally different than the dynamics of print publishing. The act of following links, and idly surfing for something interesting is a totally different action than going into a store and buying a magazine, or taking the step of subscribing to something which will arrive in the mail. As flesh-and-blood animals, the physical thing is critical to our bartering instincts.

Sure, logically, when buying music, movies, or books, it is the information we are buying. But all the same, the body walks home with a cd, a dvd, or a book: and that's the *thing* it paid for.

(4) Related to 2, supply and demand works against the fiction publisher -- indeed, any publisher -- when trying to charge for content. Look at poor Britannica, now that Wikipedia is publishing great content for free.

(5) It's a hassle. A minor one, and certainly less of a hassle than getting your butt out of the chair and down to your local newsstand, but more of a hassle than hitting the back arrow on your browser and going somewhere else.

The most fundamental answer to the question, I think, is this: people are only willing to pay for online content when they actually have a *need* for the content itself, and the last fifteen years of web history have trained people to expect free content. There is an active "information should be free" mentality, exemplified by sites such as "BugMeNot" that discourage even non-monetary compensation from "content consumers."

Editors want to pay authors, and authors want to be paid. But readers are less and less inclined to pay. There are creative solutions, such as the StrangeHorizons fund-raiser (NPR style), but it's not clear that this will work for more than a handful of companies. Advertising is right out when it comes to niche markets.

Answers: Benefactors? Arts commission grants? Publish in ebook formats rather than HTML? Challenge the assumption that people won't pay?

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Brendan
Posted on Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 12:08 am:   

Less We Forget - Why not use your real name?

No one is slamming "Shimmer", we are just pointing out the realities of the business.

And why is it comendable?

Is it better to just lie and slap each other's asses and say we are all great, beautiful people and we are all going to succeed?

No. Better to look at things in the clear light of day. That is the only way anyone succeeds.

Alan - Thanks for the numbers. I thought it was a bit smaller.
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des
Posted on Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 12:32 am:   

I think the answer is simple. Except for people in the business or aspirationally/ potentially in the business, nobody opens up website fiction for a potential reading process. The above mentioned exceptions are perhaps 10% of the total Internet surfers and the total Internet surfers are perhaps 10% of the fiction reading public at large. Perhaps.

I agree with Brendan. You have to be cruel to be kind. But good luck with any projects and I hope I'm proved wrong.
des
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des
Posted on Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 12:45 am:   

There's something illogical about my guesstimated figures above, but I hope you get the drift. It's too early on a Sunday morning to work out why they're illogical, but I'm sure they are! ;-)

Be nice to know the real figures.
des
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T Andrews
Posted on Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 04:07 am:   

One of the reasons I won't pay for online content is that I abhor using credit cards online. I've received phony paypal and credit card emails that looked legit, asking me for information. Luckily my inherent paranoia protected me.

When the first SciFiction anthology comes out, I'll gladly spend the money. But certainly, if zines as good as that one are giving it away, it's awfully hard to expect people to pay.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 06:43 am:   

Des,
I'm sorry but can you clarify the below sentence? I really don't know what you mean...

"Except for people in the business or aspirationally/ potentially in the business, nobody opens up website fiction for a potential reading process."
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 07:13 am:   

Hey T,
I get phony paypal and ebay emails all the time. I just forward them to spoof@paypal.com or spoof@ebay.com to confirm that they're fake.

I also get emails from banks I've never even heard of.

Always assume that your bank, ebay, or any other place of that ilk will not contact you to revise information by email. They NEVER do.

I charge things online often and so far (knock on wood) have never had a problem. Besides, if you're going to be paranoid, you might as well cut up all your credit cards. Credit card stealing and ID theft is more prevalent offline than on (pace the 40 million credit cards hacked in May).
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T Andrews
Posted on Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 07:17 am:   

That's a good point, Ellen, re offline risks. I appreciate those links, too.
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des
Posted on Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 01:15 pm:   

Sorry, Ellen, for that 'vexed texture of text' I placed here!

I think what I was trying to say: those who are writers and/or editors/publishers -- or people who hope to become these in the future -- are the large percentage, if not all, of the people opening website fiction with the intention to read it ... i.e. no ordinary readers who have no ambition to write or edit etc. and who just buy books in shops etc. would be doing this.
Or is that rubbish?
des
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Les We Forget
Posted on Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 02:37 pm:   

Fair point, Brendan.

I know not giving a name isn't right, and apologise for the lack of courage or courtesy, but, to be honest, I'm entirely out of my depth in this conversation.

I was just a little take aback by what seems to be discouragement.

Forgive the interruption.



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Anna Tambour
Posted on Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 03:24 pm:   

It's rubbish, Des: "no ordinary readers who have no ambition to write or edit etc. and who just buy books in shops etc. would be doing this." Horse piss. Hog snot. You might not read any fiction on line, but other people do who are not writers, not wanting to be writers, and not in the business. Many people (and I include myself) do it for, oddly enough, pleasure. And there are many reasons that they do it online. To read what they would not have the opportunity to otherwise, because of geographical restrictions, financial restrictions, as well as the restrictions of being able to access printed works by many authors, living and dead. They do it to read new works, without taking the plunge and buying what they might not like. In short fiction, they do it because print publishes less short fiction now than in the past, and the small-circulation periodicals that do are not readily available. Internationally, they are also frequently prohibitively expensive, once post and exchange rates are taken into consideration.

Another reason quite a few people read online for pleasure is that many of these stories are read at work, either when the readers are supposed to be working, or are on their breaks. As for only writers/aspirationals/the bus being the only readership, I think you are much more likely to be spot on with many of the most lauded literary publications.
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Anna Tambour
Posted on Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 03:55 pm:   

A couple of other points, and then I'll quit blathering.
1) Web readership is international, I must stress. We are not only in the bush in Australia, but in Italy, Croatia, Hong Kong, and upside-down-carville, USA. You might have the luxury of good libraries and a stocked bookshop of just the choice you like, at reasonable prices, but don't think we all have that.
2) The web is a vast emporium of choice, and perusing is easy. Many new works can be found nowhere else, and many old ones, pragmatically ditto.
3) There was a time when it was written that no one was interested in news any more, but that wisdom was turned on its head when it was proven that it wasn't the news that people were turning off, but the sacrosanct news media.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 06:02 pm:   

Des,
I agree with Anna. Horse pucky! In fact, I've got younger readers coming up to me saying they enjoy downloading the fiction to their palm pilots/readers or whatever, to read it while traveling, etc. We, the older generation, may not enjoy reading online (I'm not wild about it myself), but the younger generation has no such bias.
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des
Posted on Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 11:15 pm:   

Anna and Ellen, I'm glad I'm proved wrong. And I'm glad this thread has brought out some information that I at least didn't know.
Perhaps I sould start re-submitting to webzines -- which I stopped about 3 or 4 years ago - after having seemingly 'hundreds' of items on them at that time.
des
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Brendan
Posted on Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 11:56 pm:   

Des -

You have not been proved wrong.

No, don't let the women gang up on you like that. Submit some reprints to webzines, or originaly fiction to places like Scifiction, but you would be mad to submit your original stuff to some of the smaller, non-paying webzines. Honestly, for the smaller ones, I think you are dead-on correct. Very few people read them, and most of these probably are writer's etc.

Ellen - The thing is, you are coming from the point of view of probably the largest, most professional on-line market for genre fiction. People download stuff from your site, but from most others, not.

Anna - :-)
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des
Posted on Monday, June 20, 2005 - 04:18 am:   

No, don't let the women gang up on you like that.

Yes, but my wife agrees with Ellen and Anna!
des
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, June 20, 2005 - 07:55 am:   

Brendan,
Well, of course I am. But if you compare the readers for the print magazines--the professional ones vs the smaller ones, you get the same huge drop off in readership. So I don't see any difference.
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des
Posted on Monday, June 20, 2005 - 08:39 am:   

With some trepidation, I come in again, in case I'm talking 'hog snot'...

But we are only talking about a very few professional webzines (and I'm not sure if they charge money or not) - plus a large rump of small ones.

With print, there is a much smoother gradation of many professional, many semi-professional, many half decent, many amateurish -- all of which usually charge money
des

des
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, June 20, 2005 - 09:47 am:   

Des,
Yes, currently there are very few professional webzines but the medium is a new one compared to print.

I was not talking quality I was talking readers--the drop-off between Analog, ASF, and F&SF and all the other print zines is (I'm guessing) huge. Whether a magazine is semi-pro or non-pro the numbers are still a fraction of the pro mags.
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des
Posted on Monday, June 20, 2005 - 10:49 am:   

My reading now is as follows, following what I’ve learned on this thread:

Two parallel streams, one older than the other (and this only applies to SHORT fiction):

Both (1)PRINT and (2)WEBZINE:-
(a)Top echelon is leagues above the rest, very professional, very name-driven (name of mag or webzine or name of editor etc), appealing to readers who are already ‘in the business’ as well as to the public at large.
(b)The rest from semi-pro ‘downwards’ more geared to readers already ‘in the business’.
Print charge for their ‘product’, Web rarely.


Which brings me back to my original point, any degree of professionalism or reviewability cannot alter the distinction/value between (1) and (2) but can significantly alter the distinction between (a) and (b). The distinction between (1) and (2) is taste/provenance/durability driven and I’ve made my views clear on this re my own 'taste' and what I believe the predominant 'taste' of readers in general to be, when push comes to shove.

When you factor in books/novels into the above equations, I think my 'taste' propensity is even stronger.
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des
Posted on Monday, June 20, 2005 - 11:29 am:   

Riders to above:

For ‘in the business’ above, please read those who are actually or aspirationally steeped in our field of fictioneering and who often contribute to message boards, blogs etc on the subject.

Also, common sense tells me that as the logistics of preparing a *printed paper* publication and distributing it takes more commitment and money to bring off, then the end-quality of (1) above is a ratchet above (2). This strengthens automatically/subliminally the *need* for editorial control etc. All *generally* speaking and excluding the 'top echelon' of both (1) and (2) as defined above.
des
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Anna Tambour
Posted on Monday, June 20, 2005 - 03:22 pm:   

Des,
Web publication costs add up, too, particularly for a publication that maintains an archive. I don't have experience with SciFiction, but can talk about Strange Horizons. Their editorial excellence is something they take pride in--my experience with Jed Hartman is one that awed me. He is one fine and dedicated editor! When my story was published, I was pleasantly surprised to see it illustrated with five full-fledged paintings, done for the story.

A friend here in Australia just had a story published in a prestigious printed publication. A couple of emails had preceded the publication, with a line added because of a request by the editors. She got no galleys. When she got the issue, she was "surprised" (I'm euphemising here) to see this line appear as the last line of her story.

Every publication is different in its approach. I think the attitude that you need to take is to look at it and think, 1) Do I respect this? Do I enjoy reading it?
and 2) What's its readership profile likely to be? This is something that can be checked, to some extent with a web publication, by using Google.

Sometimes a very small readership is right, if that segment is what you are looking for.

And quality doesn't necessarily have anything to do with numbers of readers, in print and on the web.



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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, June 20, 2005 - 03:37 pm:   

Des, when I edited Event Horizon for one and a half years, I and my colleagues paid professional rates and were committed to publishing on time (which we did).
Chizine, I believe does as well. As I said, webzines are relatively new--print publishing is several hundred years old. Web publishing is less than fifteen.
Ellen


>>>Also, common sense tells me that as the logistics of preparing a *printed paper* publication and distributing it takes more commitment and money to bring off, then the end-quality of (1) above is a ratchet above (2). This strengthens automatically/subliminally the *need* for editorial control etc. All *generally* speaking and excluding the 'top echelon' of both (1) and (2) as defined above.
des
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des
Posted on Tuesday, June 21, 2005 - 12:43 am:   

I've learned a lot from this thread and I hope the Shimmer management has. Thanks.

Anna asks: Do I respect this? Do I enjoy reading it?

respect - yes.

Enjoyment - no.

I shall never enjoy reading fiction on a screen however presented.

I wonder how many people are like me? Probably few who visit message boards on this subject!

des
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Vylar Kaftan
Posted on Tuesday, June 21, 2005 - 05:20 am:   

I like both print and online stories, for different reasons. Online stories are useful for drudge jobs where visibly reading a book will upset the boss, but reading a screen makes it look like you're doing work. Um, not that I've ever done that. No, of course not.

Print magazines and mass-market paperbacks are great for reading in the bathtub. (I'm always worried about dropping my desktop machine in the bubble bath.)

I suspect that if I were more technologically equipped--with a PDA, etc.--my minor issues with online stories would vanish.

As a writer, there's reasons to like online format too. Email submissions save a lot of postage. Stories on the web can be linked to from a web page or a livejournal account. Online critique groups, while not quite publishing, help you be accustomed to reading online--and for writers in rural areas, sometimes that's about all the sf community they can get.

It is possibly a result of the online influence that I write all my stories in "online format" (no indents, spaces between paragraphs, etc.) and convert it to "normal" format when needed for print submission or Word-attachment submissions. Which is most of the time, but my eyes are just used to seeing it in online format.

I think Ellen's right about it being partly a generational thing. Most of the people I know who are around my age or younger are completely fine with online stories, or even prefer them. I'm not sure where "my" generation starts, but I feel squarely in it.
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des
Posted on Tuesday, June 21, 2005 - 05:28 am:   

Email submissions can equally apply to Print publications. For example I only accept email submissions at 'Nemonymous'.
des
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Vylar Kaftan
Posted on Tuesday, June 21, 2005 - 05:36 am:   

True, but in my experience that's unusual. Most print magazines seem to prefer snailmail. Most web magazines allow e-subs.

While I'm quite willing to snailmail manuscripts, I'd prefer to save the postage and the dead trees when I can.
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des
Posted on Tuesday, June 21, 2005 - 08:34 am:   

Just read this passage today. I think it's a lovely quote.

Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.

from 'The Shadow Of The Wind' by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
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ABV
Posted on Tuesday, June 21, 2005 - 08:57 am:   

I LOVE that quote and that book. What a fantastic first novel. Picked it up before our trip to Victoria and read it there in our B&B sitting in front of the fire. I recommend it to anyone who hasn't yet read it.

Ann V.
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des
Posted on Tuesday, June 21, 2005 - 10:40 am:   

That's good to know, Ann. Thanks. My wife bought it for my birthday in January, and I've only today just started reading it (the quote above coming from its first few pages).
des
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T Andrews
Posted on Tuesday, June 21, 2005 - 01:59 pm:   

Des, your quote reminded me of an experience I had:

I was looking through a number of old books, most from the early 1800's, when I came across a girl's school reader from 1835, with a note in the margin: "go to page 17 for a clue" and then, on page 17: "43 pages from this one, you will find further instruction". Well, it went on like that for awhile until the last inscription, which said: "what a trick I've pulled on you...aren't you foolish!" or something like that. This was a small volume tucked in a corner that may not have been glanced at for decades. It was spooky to have an interchange with a girl so long dead. It felt as though she had reached across time. (In a haunted library, to boot! Now that I think about it, that may have been the day the library locked me in.)
This is the sort of romantic experience that makes me love books so much!

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Anna Tambour
Posted on Tuesday, June 21, 2005 - 04:06 pm:   

Lovely quote, Des. I quite agree with it. T, your experience with the reader from 1935 is quite wonderful. It makes me think of a book that sits on my desk: "Jesse's Gleanings in Natural History Vol I London: John Murray, Albemarle Street 1838". On the next page, in a no-frills hand is written: "Hester Anne Murray October 1838".
I can't read this beautiful book without thinking of the young girl in George Gissing's great "New Grub Street", and of another young woman whose youth was also spent as recording instrument of her father's passions: Mary Kingsley. Perhaps I am assuming too much of Hester Anne Murray, but what was her life like, and did she look on the famous Mr Jesse with some hope of ..., or some other regard? As much a mystery as the story behind book dedications, which I also love, like my favourite, in my 1932 Farrar & Rinehart edition of The Little Golden Calf by Ilya Ilf and Eugene Petrov, translated by Charles Malamuth (my favourite novel of all time). A personalised bookplate is pasted inside the front cover, a lovely woodcut in 1920s US style: "Vera Liebert". On the flyleaf is written "March 16 - 1938, For Verotchka, My Little Golden Lamb, Mme Ranyevsky, Just another little birthday effusion."

The web can never give us the intimate, sensual experience that paper can and does, and the joy and mystery of printed matter that pass from one hand to another is entirely absent. But there is a community-of-the-world capacity that the web does provide, as some small consolation. It is a pragmatic choice of read, I think, Des. I don't 'enjoy' it any more than you in any sensual way. But then again, I'm not 'the younger generation' either. I use it, just as I use the computer. And who can love their computer? There is one factor, though, that leads me to read more and more on the web. My eyes. They are deteriorating (from being merely bad) at quite a rate now, and I find that many magazines and books now cause me pain: All coated stock, and many of the bright whites. Some magazines such as The Economist and New Scientist are easier for me to read on the web, as the screen is more eye-friendly than their thin, coated, semi-transparent stock. Do other people have this problem?
Here's a column that might be interesting, in The Guardian: "The Street of No Shame" about Grub Street.
http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/politicsphilosophyandsociety/story/0,600 0,609871,00.html
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des
Posted on Tuesday, June 21, 2005 - 11:51 pm:   

Some lovely thoughts about the power of books above.

Sorry to hear about your eyes, Anna. Surprised that you are able to read a screen better than a book. Surprised, yes, but naturally very pleased that you do find this easier avenue for reading fiction.

As to loving one's computer, I actually do love my computer. Without tempting fate hopefully, I've been using the same computer since April 1999 in a very heavy-duty sort of way. I love the friends I've made, the communication, the dottiness, the ability to ply my wares, the various websites like Infinity Plus, Fantastic Metropolis, Lost Pages etc., the information sources etc

It's just that - all other things being equal - it is not good for reading fiction and it only exists in the main to cater for people already 'in the business' actually or aspirationally, as defined above. I still maintain that.

I read email submissions for Nemonymous because that's one of the challenges I've given myself and I know if a story permeates the disadvantages of being read on a screen, then it's a sure fire winner for Nemonymous print. But reading for pure pleasure (not diminishing the specialist purpose that you outline re particular eyesight problems, Anna) reading fiction for me (and I believe for most ordinary readers) has always been and will always be via the soul of books. IMHO.

All the best with your eyes, Anna.
des
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Anna Tambour
Posted on Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - 02:01 am:   

Woops. I didn't mean to tell a sob story about my eyes. Rather, I assumed (perhaps wrongly) that the vast majority of people on this board have bad--and deteriorating--eyes, to some extent, just as roofers get bad backs and illustrators used to get their brains fried from the solvents in markers. But it's great to know that your computer is behaving, Des.
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des
Posted on Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - 02:28 am:   

Anna, glad to hear your further comments re your eyes "deteriorating (from being merely bad) at quite a rate now". But I always assumed that it was staring all the time at a computer screen that could cause eye problems. My wife tells me this!

One last thought from me. It may sound paradoxical - bearing in mind what I've said above - that I'm currently involved in a huge project of self-republishing all my previously independently print-published fictions (from eighties and nineties - well over a 1000 of them - excluding those in Weirdmonger book) on the internet. There is a huge contents list available for this, as mentioned on www.weirdmonger.com

Goodness knows why I am doing this! Permanent away-from-the-home storage? Audit of my bibliography? And, yes, hopefully, for those few who do enjoy fiction on the net to enjoy reading free of charge!

des
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des
Posted on Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - 02:57 am:   

It's also a 'happening'!
des
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JV
Posted on Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - 06:07 am:   

Re SciFiction--but you can print the stories out. I don't mind printing out a story and reading it that way. I think there's more than enough room for both things. It's not like SciFiction is asking anyone to read a novel online.

JeffV
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des
Posted on Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - 06:15 am:   

I haven't got a printer on my computer, but when I did it really cost a bomb for ink cartridges.

As I said above: I have so many books and magazines I want to read and are here already in my house to read that I will not have time to read them all before I die, whenever I'm likely to die. I suggest I am not alone in this, but alone in voicing it in places like this.

And books have more soul than printer paper.
IMHO
des
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des
Posted on Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - 06:36 am:   

And this long thread hasn't been just about the (no doubt excellent) Scifiction. Dealing with that site alone (as if it existed alone) would indeed lead to quite a different audit trail of argument, I assume.
des
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JV
Posted on Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - 06:44 am:   

I know, Des. But it applies equally to other sites re printing stuff out to read. In a way, it's a relief for me to have something disposable. I've got 25,000 books in the house cackling at me.

JeffV
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des
Posted on Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - 07:01 am:   

Fair enough, Jeff.
I've learned a lot on this thread and a number of concepts have come together for me as a result.
I only hope Shimmer have benfeited, too!
des
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Mary Robinette Kowal
Posted on Saturday, June 25, 2005 - 02:12 pm:   

Definitely, we've learned some things! I've just spent the week in Orson Scott Card's Literary Boot Camp, so I was really surprised to see this thread had gone to 101 posts.

Shimmer is going to have a print version, 5.5 x 8.5 with a glossy color cover for $5. People who would prefer to save money can purchase the .pdf of the print version.

Or at least that's where things stood when I started Boot Camp on Monday. I'm a wee bit groggy from a week of writing and no sleep.
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JL Radley
Posted on Saturday, June 25, 2005 - 05:03 pm:   

Welcome back, Mary.

Hi everyone. I'm one of the editors at Shimmer. I just wanted to say that I appreciate the comments (and your time) in this topic.

There's a lot of concern as to the viability of reading stories on a computer or PDA. I understand this completely. I love books - I've always loved books.

Sadly, in my tiny London flat, I don't have room for all of the books I love or would love to have. Notably, before moving from the States to London, I had to sell and give away nearly all of my books because I couldn't afford shipping them over (I owned over 500 pounds of books.) A local library got the majority of them -- these being the books I couldn't sell or those my friends didn't want.

Of course, few people move to a new country, so this isn't an issue for most. But it was a heartbreaking one for me. Anyway, here in my tiny London flat, there's no room for the type of library I once had, so I've adapted. The majority of books I buy are now ebooks. I also download a lot of public domain text files and convert them for use on my Palm Pilot.

But reading a story on a computer monitor remains difficult for me. I do fine when I see a story in proper manuscript format in MS Word, double-spaced, courier, etc., but on web pages or other (including PDF), forget about it. I usually have to print the stories or copy and paste them into my manuscript template to read.

But I miss "real" books at times, and I still buy printed material when the book is a special one (almost always hard covers). And, of course, nothing beats a printed magazine that you can fold up and stuff into your back pocket if necessary.

So, as Mary said, we are doing a printed magazine along with offering an electronic format for those who appreciate that media. We know we cannot please everyone, but we'd like to please as many as possible.

Thanks,

JL Radley
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Zack
Posted on Thursday, July 21, 2005 - 02:40 pm:   

"Speculative fiction" another apologetic term introduced by the dated short story writer and political hack Harlan Ellison.
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Bob Urell
Posted on Thursday, July 21, 2005 - 03:48 pm:   

Eckshully, Heinlein used it during the late 30s, early 40s, and most likely soaked it up from J.W. Campbell. You might have heard of the latter; he did some big things for the genre.
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Mary Robinette Kowal
Posted on Thursday, July 21, 2005 - 11:41 pm:   

Why is it "apologetic?" I've always used it to cover the wide range of stories that can't happen in the real world, from SF to fantasy to magical realism and some horror.
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MaryRobinette Kowal
Posted on Sunday, September 04, 2005 - 02:41 pm:   

On the edge of possibilities, something Shimmers on the horizon. A mirage? Come closer to find an oasis of inventive fiction.

In October, let the debut issue of Shimmer carry you to South India, where Kuzhali Manickavel's Sour Hands introduces a little girl whose evil gift is betrayed by a mango. Delight in John Joseph Adams's latest fiction review and cross over to Dario Ciriello's Valley of Shadows, where the veil that separates the living from the spirit world has vanished. Then continue to the edge with Mel Cameron's Convocation of Clowns.

And there's more. Shimmer is waiting to slake your thirst in print or online, according to your reading preference.

Subscribe now, enjoy on October 1.

Submissions
Shimmer Magazine is now accepting fiction and art submissions for our January 2006 issue. If you write extraordinary speculative fiction stories, we want to read them. Check out our submission guidelines for details.
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Leonard J. Sidiski
Posted on Monday, September 05, 2005 - 05:08 am:   

The submission guidelines say that you're paying five dollars per story for the October issue. Would I be correct in assuming that it's the same for January, or did you salvage enouth gold doubloons from a sunken galleon someplace to be able to lavish riches on contributing writers?
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MaryRobinette Kowal
Posted on Monday, September 05, 2005 - 11:48 am:   

Whoops. Sorry, we haven't updated that page for January. We are planning on raising the writer's fee for the January issue but want to see how October sales go before we make it official.

I'll at least go take the word October off the page. Thanks for pointing htat out.
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MaryRobinette Kowal
Posted on Friday, September 16, 2005 - 08:20 pm:   

Shimmer is raising our payments to $10 for each story we publish, starting with the Winter 2006 issue.

For our full guidelines, please visit our website.
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Mary Robinette Kowal
Posted on Monday, October 03, 2005 - 01:42 pm:   

We released our first issue on October 1st. Since there was a lot of discussion earlier about web versus print, I thought I would share the results of our presales. 57% ordered print, the remaining 43% went with the PDF. If there's an exciting turnabout, I'll be sure to let you know.
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Dario
Posted on Friday, October 07, 2005 - 09:45 am:   

As an honoured contributor to SHIMMER'S debut issue, I'd like to thank Beth, Mary, and the rest of the SHIMMER staff for their professionalism and dedication throughout the editing and publication process.

My personal belief is that pay rates are fairly irrelevant as far as the *credibility* of a publication (web or print) is concerned: several have cited LCRW, a market that has acquired a excellent reputation despite low pay rates, and has been going for nine years.

Of course, these markets won't qualify you for SFWA membership or pay the grocery bill. But if they offer quality fiction and stay the course, they will be read and reviewed.

As a writer with no illusions of ever becoming wealthy or even making a fulltime living at the craft, I'd value a respected market with reasonable response times over any over-ambitious glitzy publication that promises pro rates but that sinks without a trace after a few issues.

The debut issue of SHIMMER looks great and contains some excellent fiction: here's to many more issues to come!
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Mary Robinette Kowal
Posted on Saturday, December 10, 2005 - 11:26 am:   

We've just been reviewed by IROSF in Bluejack's final short story review column. (sadness) He mentions Dario's story in particular.

"Headlining the issue is Dario Ciriello's Valley of the Shadow, a zombie story with a difference. Complex, subtle, and powerful, one man makes his way in a world where the dead walk again. These zombies aren't eating brains, though. They walk with us, watch us, silently reproaching the living."

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Mary Robinette Kowal
Posted on Tuesday, January 03, 2006 - 04:48 pm:   

Shimmer's debut issue received a very nice review from Tangent Online.

An excerpt:
"The premier issue of Shimmer seems to have a lot going for it: numerous well-told stories by many unknown names, wonderful artwork weaved into each story, a pleasing and original layout, and a book review by the Slush God himself, John Joseph Adams, of F&SF fame."
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Mary Robinette Kowal
Posted on Thursday, January 12, 2006 - 08:28 am:   

Snuggle up with the winter issue of Shimmer and sink into the heat of Alabama with Sell Your Soul to the Devil Blues by Tom Pendergrass, pick the brain of multiple Hugo-award winning editor Ellen Datlow, and listen to the Silent Folk in Jay Lake's The Black Back-Lands. There's more: the nursing home adventures in Ken Scholes's Action Team-up Number Thirty-Seven feature an illustration by none other than Karl Kesel of Marvel comic fame.

Shimmer is waiting to warm your winter nights with speculative fiction in print or online, according to your reading preference.

Subscribe now, and catch the next wave in fiction. The Winter 2006 issue will be available on Wednesday, January 18.

Table of Contents and Excerpts
The Black Back-Lands, by Jay Lake

They say the Silent People can hear you talking in your dreams. I guess ‘cause the Silent People only speak in dreams, they listen real good there, too. Kind of like the dead, maybe. But I always been told to keep my mouth shut when dreaming comes upon me, so’s not to give away too much of myself and get sewn into some woodspocket, and carried ever more through the fir shadows and pine bays while my body starves and fevers.

Action Team-Up Number Thirty-Seven, by Ken Scholes

Thursday, 3:32 p.m.
The dentures I lost on reconnaissance last week have come back to haunt me. Cavanaugh made a big show of it, waving them beneath my nose in the cafeteria line. Smug bastard. If I were ten years younger or if he were forty years older, I’d have shown him completely new uses for tapioca pudding. Regardless, I have my teeth back and that made lunch slightly more tolerable.

Sell Your Soul to the Devil Blues, by Tom Pendergrass

It gets hot in the Delta—evil hot—the kind of heat that fills a man’s lungs with fire and crushes his breath stillborn. Preacherman came through here, ‘bout a year ago, and said this is what it’s like in Hell, so you best behave and live straight. Now God forgive me, that preacher had no notion what he was talking ‘bout. But I met someone a few years back who does.

Route Nine, by Samantha Henderson

Good to see you, Tex. It’s been a while, I know. Haven’t been out this way since I got my route switched. Wouldn’t be here now except there wasn’t anyone else to drive it.

Why? Well, I guess there’s time to tell you. Nothing’s gonna happen till the bar clears out. Need another beer, though.

The Goldsmith, by Ian Creasey

Corinne closed the nail-studded door behind her, and walked down the narrow steps. The goldsmith’s shop was small, full of little cabinets lined with black cloth displaying brooches, earrings, and necklaces of thin golden chain. Corinne got the impression that the entire shop could be stuffed into a bag for a swift getaway from riots, pogroms, or excise men.

Music in D Minor, by Erynn Miles

I awake to the sound of a piano tinkling a low, sleepy melody. It is coming from Charlie’s body. This melody almost always comes from him as he sleeps. He lies in bed next to me, the sound swelling beneath his skin , seeping out of his pores. I hear it in the saliva dripping from his half-open mouth. His arm shifts a little and I hear a hint of lazy cello.

But it is not time yet.

Interview with Ellen Datlow

Neighbor, by Jason A. D. MacDonald

There it was again!

Water pipes groaned behind the drywall, like alpine horns blown by cockroaches. As I started my dishes, the upstairs neighbor had turned on his kitchen faucet. There was a three second differential between the flow in my sink starting and the echo in the wall. I put the dish soap down, stared moodily at the white stucco ceiling of my one-bedroom apartment, and cut off the hot water. Three seconds later, the mockery above stopped too.

The Persian Box, by Gerald Costlow

Pardon me? Oh, you’re interested in the box. Yes, it’s quite beautiful, and quite old.

From Persia, yes.

You’re not the first stranger to remark upon it. People are attracted to its beauty, but it is rare for someone to recognize its origin. You must be a scholar like myself. I am Angelo Demetrius, by the way. Pleased to meet you. Would you care to sit down? I find drinking goes best with a little conversation.

One-Leaf-Two, by Edo Mor

South Wind was blowing now. All today and all of yesterday as well. Cool and steady and persistent. Clenched in his fist (so that they wouldn’t blow away) were sweet, good things of earth: a sticky husk of anis and three gomabarros, helical and phosphorescent in the night, clay-red like the eyes of culebras. Squeezed together, they smelled tart, sweet, and spicy all at once, and his stomach riffled with expectant notes. But he couldn’t eat them. He would wait. They were saved things, saved for her.
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Mary Robinette Kowal
Posted on Sunday, April 30, 2006 - 02:13 pm:   

It’s a small thing, but I’m still pretty excited about it. Shimmer made the top five bestsellers list for magazines at Clarkesworld Books for the week ending April 23, 2006.
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Steve Forstner
Posted on Monday, May 01, 2006 - 09:45 am:   

Way, cool. Congratulations!
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Mary Robinette Kowal
Posted on Thursday, May 25, 2006 - 01:29 am:   

Thanks, Steve!

And now, onto more exciting news.

The Spring 2006 issue of Shimmer: Available now!

Our cover story is A Warrior's Death, Aliette de Bodard's tale of sacrifice and honor in an Aztec-inspired world. John Joseph Adams returns with a review of Larry Niven's "The Draco Tavern." Then there's the charming Dog Thinks Ahead, by Cliff Royal Johns, the sorrowful Litany by John Mantooth, and Bruce Derksen's Rubber Boots, Mr. President. Angela Slatter brings new life to Hans Christian Anderson's The Little Match Girl and Darby Harn tells us about a blind woman's unusual skills. We also have the honor of being the first fiction credit for Paul Abbamondi (The Dealer's Hands) and Marina T. Stern (Drevka's Rain).

Celebrate Spring with Shimmer! Available in both print and electronic editions, according to your reading preferences.

Subscribe now, and catch the next wave in fiction.
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Mary Robinette Kowal
Posted on Sunday, June 25, 2006 - 05:34 am:   

Tangent Online just gave our Spring issue a lovely review.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Sunday, June 25, 2006 - 03:43 pm:   

Congratulations Mary!
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Mary Robinette Kowal
Posted on Sunday, June 25, 2006 - 05:48 pm:   

Thanks! We're very pleased.
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Mary Robinette Kowal
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 03:28 am:   

Pirates! The word evokes the high seas, deep space and bootleg software. Be honest, who hasn't wanted to be a pirate? Think of plunder, booty--Avast!

The MS Shimmer has been captured by the Dred Pirate John Joseph Adams, first-mate of the Fantasy & Science Fiction. For the Summer 2007 issue, our pages will be filled with pirate stories. What better way to celebrate National Talk Like a Pirate Day?

What kind of pirates? All kinds - fantasy, science fiction, contemporary, historical, futuristic, high seas, deep space - if it's got pirates and it's speculative fiction, Captain Adams wants it. The usual Shimmer guidelines apply, but with pirates.

Bring us your pirate stories for Summer 2007, the Pirate Issue.

Submission porthole: December 1, 2006-January 31, 2007.

Send submissions to submissions@shimmerzine.com with "Pirate Submission: Title" in the subject line.

Links
Ye scurvy sea-dogs need some inspirin'? Here are some links to get ye started.

- Watch the History Channel's series on pirates, beginning July 9.
- Can't think of a name for your pirate vessel? Check out this pirate ship name generator.
- Read some sobering information on the connection between pirates and global warming in this Open Letter to Kansas School Board.
- Brush up on your pirate words and phrases.
- And don't forget Bloodthirsty Pirate Tales.


If we be missin' some links, or if ye have more questions, fire a cannon over our fo'c's'le at midnight, or send e-mail to info@shimmerzine.com.
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Mary Robinette Kowal
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 03:39 am:   

Payrate increase: With the Autumn 2006 issue, Shimmer's payrate is increasing.
$10 for stories 1k and under
1 cent/word for 1001 to 3k
$30 for 3k and up.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 09:28 am:   

Mary,
I'm writing up a list of active, paying specfic markets for my forthcoming Clarion west week and need to know who the actual editor of Shimmer is so I can provice that info.
Is it you?
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Mary Robinette Kowal
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 02:24 pm:   

Hi Ellen,
Our editor-in-chief is Beth Wodzinski. She works with an editorial staff to select stories. I'm the art director and one of the editorial staff members.

We read all of our submissions with the author information stripped out and never see cover letters until after we've made a decision about a story, so "Dear Editors" works well.

Thanks for including us.
Mary
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 03:22 pm:   

Thanks for the clarification.
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Mary Robinette Kowal
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 05:18 pm:   

No problem. I've been thinking that we should put up a page about "How our submissions process works."

Have fun at Clarion!
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Mary Robinette Kowal
Posted on Monday, July 10, 2006 - 10:11 am:   

Cat Rambo at suite101 interviewed me about my work with Shimmer. We also touched on art, writing and puppetry. Check it out.
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Steve Forstner
Posted on Wednesday, July 12, 2006 - 08:55 am:   

Way cool, Mary!
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Mary Robinette Kowal
Posted on Wednesday, August 02, 2006 - 03:07 am:   

The Summer 2006 issue of Shimmer: On sale now.

Heat makes the air shimmer. It’s too damn hot to write marketing text. Buy a copy of the Summer 2006 Shimmer. Read it.

Why? 8 new stories, art, and an interview with writing team Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta.

Angela Slatter, Tom Pendergrass, Paul Abbamondi, and Marina T. Stern return with stories of books, bureaucracy, blood, and heartbreak. Amal El-Mohtar and Stephen Moss make their fiction debuts. Beverly Jackson tells a fish tale, and Michael Livingston talks about gnomes. (Check out our Featured Author page to hear Michael read the story.)

Bonus: after reading, the print version works as a fan! Our pdf readers are on their own.
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Mary Robinette Kowal
Posted on Monday, August 28, 2006 - 04:43 pm:   

On Tangent Online, Jason Sizemore just reviewed Shimmer, Summer 2006, #4

"Shimmer Magazine is the type of publication that you’re proud of reading in front of your peers. It is journal-sized, with an attractive, simple front and back cover layout. The interior has a clean, professional design. The font is eye-grabbing and large enough for most eyes to read without hassle."

Go read the rest of the review
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Mike Munsil
Posted on Monday, November 06, 2006 - 04:06 pm:   

I just had the chance to meet Beth and MaryRobinette of Shimmer. They're good people. The party they threw at Fantasy Worldcon was a blast! About 150 people showed up!
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Mary Robinette Kowal
Posted on Monday, November 06, 2006 - 04:23 pm:   

Aw, shucks, Mike. Meeting you was definitely one of the highlights of the convention for me.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, November 07, 2006 - 02:47 pm:   

It as great to see you Mary..even if we had no time to chat!
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Mary Robinette Kowal
Posted on Tuesday, November 07, 2006 - 03:08 pm:   

Likewise. Perhaps there will be more time at Orycon, though looking at the panel schedule they've given me, I'm rather doubting it.
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John Klima
Posted on Wednesday, November 08, 2006 - 08:03 am:   

I had a blast at the Pirate party. At least people tell me I did since I had so much pirate juice it's hard to remember!

John Klima
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Mary Robinette Kowal
Posted on Wednesday, November 08, 2006 - 09:04 am:   

Aye, that ye did, matey.

By the way, that pirate juice is a real cocktail although I've only found one bartender that knew what to do when I ordered a "pirate." If you want to re-create the Shimmer party at home, the recipe for a pirate is:

3/4 oz amber rum (2 cl, 3/16 gills)
3/4 oz Cognac (2 cl, 3/16 gills)
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice (1.5 cl, 1/8 gills)
splash grenadine
Serve in a cocktail glass (4.5 oz)

For those of you who weren't there, it is, um, potent. If you want a pirate tattoo for the full experience, let me know and I'll mail you one.
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Mary Robinette Kowal
Posted on Saturday, December 16, 2006 - 03:52 pm:   

Hey there. Shimmer has a limited-time special offer for the holidays. Anyone who buys a subscription to Shimmer between now and the end of the year, gets a signed copy of our holiday chapbook. This year's holiday story is Christmas Season by Jay Lake.

A subscription is only $17. Already have one? Send Shimmer to a friend for the holidays; we won't tell them that you kept the chapbook for yourself.

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