Monday, October 5, 2009
On Eating One's Tail: The Death of Necrography and the State of Short Fiction
Another small press magazine bit the dust. As a former contributor, I received an email that Necrography was no more. The publisher produced one and only one issue (which can still be purchased through Amazon.com), and my short story "Brian Cullen's Confessional" found itself in the TOC. It's a nice little magazine, glossy and slick with clean layout.
Am I sad that another paying market has bitten the dust? Yes.
Am I surprised? No.
I turned to writing short fiction when my first novel was in the "query quagmire". I loved it. Still do. In order to continue to sell short fiction, markets have to exist to exhibit that short fiction. How do paying markets exist? Well, by selling copies (or enough advertising to make the cover price reasonable.)
To whom does a small press horror mag generally sell copies? Well, from my experience, contributors (generally at a discount), or hopeful contributors doing "research". Eat your tail, short fiction community and cough up some cash to help small presses. Buy a copy of a nice looking anthology or magazine. Most of the folks "publishing" do so with limited help, volunteering their services, and often paying for the excess costs from their personal cache. Short fiction publishing doesn't make money, folks. Not for most 'zines...not until they've survived long enough to build a reliable readership. Unfortunately, many don't have the resources to "live" long enough to see that happen.
I quote from the email:
"Our submissions have been 12 times the number of our purchases and the advertising and promotion we've done have only served to increase those submissions rather than our readership."
More advertising=more people jostling for limited spots in the TOC? Where's the sales? If we, as short fiction writers, expect fine, small press venues to continue to exist, we must help support that press. We can't just complain and throw up our hands.
In full disclosure, yes I "own" a small press (all by myself now that Ed's been "fired"--not really, but that's for another post). Yes, I'd love your support...(wink, wink). But part of me want to keep going just because I know there's a bunch of writers whose work needs an outlet, even if I have to eat the financial loss...or part of my own tail.