Poll: How often do you want to get your fiction?

Though news of our upcoming short fiction magazine is starting to leak out around the edges, we’re keeping a lid on it until we have a few more details settled. The biggest one is deciding whether to have the magazine go out to subscribers on a monthly or quarterly basis.

We plan to offer an annual subscription that would email you an ebook (epub or mobi format, DRM free) of the zine. This means you’ll either get the June issue or the Summer quarterly issue, depending on what we decide. If you get the June issue, for example, you’d have all of the June fiction, poetry, non-fiction, and art in advance, usually a day or two before June begins. That content (except for a few choice pieces only available to subscribers) would be posted on the website for free throughout the month. If you don’t subscribe you can still read, but you have to come back to the site over the whole month to get it all. This way we can meet the needs of people who want their content in one easy-to-get package, and those readers who don’t subscribe can still read our offerings, with a little more work.

We did an informal poll on Twitter and respondents were almost evenly split between those who would want to get their e-zines delivered monthly, and those who wanted a bigger chunk sent to them all at once each quarter. Since we’re publishing short fiction, 1500 words or less, this isn’t as overwhelming as three months worth of larger pieces, though we will be offering a more stories in the same amount of time.

As a comparison: Lightspeed (a great genre magazine you should be reading) sends out monthly ezines, with two original fantasy and two original science fiction stories, along with an equal number of reprinted stories, plus interviews, and a novella for the ezine subscribers that doesn’t appear on the website later. We will offer 8 or 9 original short fiction stories, plus four pieces of original genre poetry, plus four non-fiction essays, plus contributor interviews, plus art. And the ezine subscribers will get extra content. It’s about the same as Lightspeed in terms of words, but it’s broken up differently.

So, which would you prefer? Monthly or quarterly?

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  1. It’s a bold move. I probably wouldn’t subscribe – although I’d take a look at the website just to be certain I shouldn’t. I’m probably an odd kind of “customer” though since, although I’m a big sci-fi fan, I don’t subscribe to *any* magazines. Not any more. The problem is that I like so few stories in them, if there is one per edition, I’m surprised. So I normally feel I’ve wasted my money. I haven’t seen a copy of Asimov’s for a decade in which I enjoyed a single story, for example. Lightspeed is so full of fantasy I’ve never been tempted at all. If I want good sci-fi stories these days, I go to Amazon (or a 2nd hand book shop) and buy an anthology or collection (I recently bought – and loved – Greg Egan’s “Axiomatic” that way).

    Having said all that, there are many new electronic SF&F magazines starting up now (or being re-launched), so there’s a lot of optimism about. However, unlike Lightspeed, they don’t have Orbit behind them, so I imagine the majority won’t last long. The competition for subscribers and good writers is going to be fierce and the quality will probably sink even lower than the top pro zines are managing to scrape together.

    Even as a writer, I’m wary of zines, having had stories published in new mags that paid peanuts and then went bust after two years. I find I make far more on a short story if I self-publish my own collections, or even sell single stories at 99c. There must be many more like me.

    Sorry to be so down about this but you’ve probably got enough people saying “Yeah, go for it!” (I won’t be unhappy if you leave this out of the comments stream.)

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