Tag Archives

4 Articles

From the Editor’s Desk: The Cost of Running a Magazine

money bagsThere is a cost to just about every business. What surprises me is how many people don’t realize the costs of running a magazine. There is also an assumption that running a magazine is a money making venture, and for most of us it is not.

This was something I was surprised to learn. I knew that my magazine had lots of costs. I pay the writers. I pay the cover artist, I pay Submittable to manage our submissions and GoDaddy to host our domain. There are printing costs, shipping costs, and the cost of office supplies (to print and store contracts). There is a lot of little costs in running a magazine. And I haven’t even talked about marketing expenses.

But I thought I was one of the only people trying to run a semi-professional magazine around my day job. And I thought for certain those that own the professional markets didn’t have to work a “real” job just to make ends meet. But I learned different real quick. What’s rare is finding a market that pays for itself and the owner doesn’t have to work a day job. I’m the common one.

I am not trying to discourage anyone from starting a magazine. But what I am saying is to be prepared for the costs. Don’t expect to get rich with an overnight success. Expect to put in a lot of work, and money, if you want to make it. And, in the interest of transparency, I’ll break down my current costs.

Writer Payments:

I currently pay authors 1 cent per word (and I will be getting to how I plan to increase that below). I budget 25,000 words in each issue (over 10 stories) and there are 6 issues in a year. Total $1500

Artist Payments:

I currently pay $150 for cover art for six issues a year. Total $900

Web hosting and Submittable:

Now, I am lucky. Submittable has raised their rates, but I am grandfathered in so I have the old rate. That is until I need to upgrade (which will be very soon). So right now I pay $10 a month for that.   I pay another $9 per month to host Plasma Frequency‘s two domains which cost me $15 a year each (not to mention another fee on that).  Total: $258

Miscellaneous:

There is postage, printing costs, proof copies, and office supplies. Total $400 a year (YTD 2014)

Grand Total: $3048

Now you notice that I have left off marketing. To be honest, other than my trips to the conventions, I don’t do a lot of marketing. I need to do more, and so that will no doubt be in my future budgets.

Now I bet some of you are thinking $3,048 a year isn’t all that much. And for some it may not be. But, lets not forget I have had to come up with that through two job losses and a move from California to Washington. Add that to the fact that, like most Americans, I live paycheck to paycheck. I have no savings account, no retirement account.  I am raising three boys who love to eat (and they haven’t even hit the teen years). So, $3,000 is a lot of money for us.

And, YTD for 2014 when it comes to magazine sales and subscriptions I have made $326. Not even enough to pay for one issue.

So why bother with running a magazine?

I absolutely love doing it. When I say this is a passion of mine, I can not begin to express how short the word “passion” falls in describing how I feel about this magazine. I get such joy out of publishing short fiction. And that is just it.  If you want to run a magazine, you have to understand that it is a labor of love, not a get rich quick plan.

In fact, I don’t care if Plasma Frequency ever makes money. Yes, someday I would like to pay my all volunteer staff for their hard work. And maybe is ten years, I’d like to see enough from it that I don’t have to work anymore. But will I even be swimming in money because of a successful magazine? I doubt it, but I am okay with that. I just want Plasma Frequency to be successful.

Successful Defined

2013top10fictionzineI want Plasma Frequency to gain a loyal fan base, and maybe even publish some award winning fiction. Personally, I think we already have some huge talent that submit to us. With each issue it gets harder and harder for me to pick stories. And I love that. But in order to achieve more success, I need to invest more money into the magazine. The problem is, I am out of money. Sure, I can keep maintaining our one cent per word, and maintain our current level of success, but I feel I owe it to those I publish to push harder and continue to strive to make Plasma Frequency a household name in science fiction and fantasy.

So how do you get more money?

We’ve tried a lot of things. I stopped giving away our issues for free so that people would buy more and we would make more, but we didn’t.  And my main goal has always been to get these authors and their stories to readers. So that is why I’ve gone back to free by making the stories free to read online. And while I won’t make money that way, the web traffic to my website tripled on the first issue we did that (Issue 13).

I have a Patreon Page up. And we have advertising on our website. But those things need time to ramp up. And I am ready to push Plasma Frequency into the professional publication level.

Professional?

There are many definitions for the word professional. I certainly think I have a professional publication, and professional staff. But, I am referring to rates we pay our authors and artists. I mentioned above that I pay one cent per word. That is the absolute bottom of the barrel in the semi-pro pay rate range. Professional pay rates start at 6 cents per word. And that is where I want to take Plasma Frequency.

That takes money, right?

kickstarterExactly. And that is where I am hoping others in the community that I hold close to my heart will come in and help us out. I’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise just over $15,000 by November 15th. With that, I will be able to use $10,000 just to pay authors and artists more money starting in January. If funded, I would pay authors 6 cents per word and artists $200 for cover art.

Does that mean I won’t be spending my own money? Oh, no. I will still be spending my own money. That will free up money for me to spend on marketing Plasma Frequency.

I’m scared.

I am scared to death this won’t reach funding. The moment I launched the project the anxiety hit me. I have big plans for this magazine, and for two and half years I’ve wanted to see it start paying professional rates. I am scared that others don’t have the same passion for Plasma Frequency that I do. I just launched yesterday and (at the time of this blog) four other people also want to see this succeed. That is great. I am hoping for ten by the end of tonight, it is a lofty goal but we need the supporters. The more people get behind this and start sharing it the better we can be.

If you are a member of the writing community, especially the short fiction one, you no doubt no the importance of a new paying market. There is way, way more quality fiction out there than there are places to publish it, even fewer that pay above 6 cents per word. And when Plasma Frequency started, we gave them a place to be paid and published. Now we want to give writers a place to be published and paid a fair, professional wage.

I really hope you take a moment to check out the Kickstarter. We have some great rewards, including a story critique from one of our editors for just $7. But even if you just have three dollars left over after paying your bills, we would be happy to take it. And you can know that we will put that money to excellent use.

And please remember, I publish Plasma Frequency for all of you in the science fiction and fantasy community. I hope you enjoy it.

2 views

Author Spotlight: Carolyn Arnold

New Release: Life Sentence, Romantic Suspense by Carolyn Arnold

Life Sentence Cover Kindle“If I pay with my life, you will pay with yours.”

Defense Attorney Bryan Lexan may have just taken on the case which will cost him his life. When his client, a Russian mafia boss, is convicted of first-degree murder, he vows to make Bryan pay.

Meanwhile, Jessica Pratt has always prided herself on being a modern woman–you know, the kind who doesn’t need a man to make her feel complete. So when she finds herself torn between two, she realizes that not all decisions are based on facts. If they were, her boyfriend, Bryan, would be the logical choice. He has the family name, wealth, and a stake in a successful law firm. Only thing is, when she meets Mason Freeman, the chemistry between them is irrefutable and he won’t take no for an answer.
With both of them caught up in a struggle for survival, and a powerful enemy on their heels, they’ll need to decide where their loyalties lie.

What reviewers are saying:

“Carolyn Arnold…continues the trend of writing exciting stories that keep your attention throughout…Life Sentence is a thriller all the way…Arnold never disappoints.”

—Barb, The Reading Cafe

“Though unique in her own right, author Carolyn Arnold is a masterful blend of such greats as Shirley Jackson (horror), Joseph Finder (thrills), and Janet Evanovich (humor and romance). Life Sentence is powerful and gripping, with so many twists and turns it left me gasping…”

—Betty Dravis, Award-winning Author and Journalist

Get your copy now at one of these fine retailers.

Available in E-Book or Print formats.

 

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Apple

Kobo

Smashwords

Sony & Diesel to follow

Carolyn Author Photo 2013 ColorCAROLYN ARNOLD’s writing career was born when a co-worker said “tell me a story”.  From there what had started off as a few paragraphs grew into her first length novel—LIFE SENTENCE. Her writing has been compared to New York Times Bestsellers such as JD Robb, Mary Higgins Clark, Sue Grafton, Michael Connelly, Tess Gerritsen, and more.  She is the author of the best-selling Madison Knight series, and Brandon Fisher FBI series.  Carolyn was born in 1976 in Picton, Ontario but currently lives in southwestern Ontario with her husband and two beagles.

Connect with Carolyn online:

Website

Twitter

Facebook Fan Page

0 views

Author Interview: Jennings Wright

Starting this month, I am excited to bring Author Features every Friday (while supplies last) to spotlight authors, their work, and support the author community.  Our first guinea pig- I mean author is Jennings Wright who has stopped by for an author interview.

HM shoot 1

RF: Tell us about yourself.

JW: I’m a wife, mom, business owner, and I founded a non-profit to Uganda (and recently Andros, Bahamas) four years ago. I’m a 5th generation Floridian who is living in NC, so I try to get to the water as much as I can!

RF: When did you start writing and what made you start?

JW: I have always been “a writer” in that I journaled, taught classes for kids, did a lot of editing, and played around with words. I didn’t start writing novels until November 2011, when I did my first NaNoWriMo. That novel became Solomon’s Throne.

RF: What is the most embarrassing mistake you’ve made as a writer?

JW: When I first published Solomon’s Throne, it was full of typos and grammatical errors. I had edited until my eyes felt like they were going to pop out, but I had never edited a 90k+ book before, and my patience gave out before it should have. I have since republished it, but that was embarrassing!  Now I spend a lot more time on editing.

RF: If you had to pick one trait that makes you a better writer, what would it be?

JW: I think stick-to-it-iveness, as my first boss used to call it. I write quickly, which is great, and I just keep going. A lot of great writers never become authors because they can’t finish their novel.

RF: When you are not writing, what are you doing?

JW: I’m almost always editing something, and I have a writing related blog. As a long-time homeschool mom, summers are pretty sacred to me for family and beach time, so besides my daughter’s wedding in June, I’m taking it a bit easy. I’ve got 2 international work trips coming up in August and September, though, so I have to work some!

RF: What is the one thing that seems to always get in the way of writing time?

JW: Life! There’s always something going on, and I have to be creative sometimes to work around it. I did well from January until mid-February this year, when I went to Uganda for my non-profit. Since getting back, we’ve had 2 graduations, a milestone birthday, a wedding, remodeling, putting our house on the market, more remodeling, and the rest of life happen. I’ve learned to go with the flow, though. If I’ve had a long day, my creativity isn’t good, and I try never to write after dinner (I can’t sleep if I do!). I don’t beat myself up over a missed day.

RF: Tell us a little bit about your the IXEOS Series.

JW: The IXEOS Trilogy is a YA sci-fi dystopian adventure, with an alternate earth and humanoid aliens. I know, that’s quite a mouthful! In the story, teens from our Earth find themselves in the alternate earth, Ixeos, and enlisted in a rebellion to free the planet and its people from alien domination. The main theme of the story is that everyone has a purpose, and can choose whether or not to fulfill it.

RF: Where did you come up with this idea?

JW: It was a combination of an article in National Geographic magazine about the two hundred miles of tunnels under Paris, and a kayaking adventure I had with my daughter where a flock of ducks disappeared. For a few weeks, we’d text each other silly stories about “where the ducks went.” One day I texted that they went to the tunnels in Paris… And that was the beginning of the story!

IXEOS 2240 For Amazon and SmashwordsRF: Who did the cover art for your book?

JW: Glendon Haddix at Streetlight Graphics. They’ve done all my covers, and are amazing to work with.

RF: Did you learn anything about yourself or your writing while working on this book?

JW: This book was different than my other novels, since I was thinking YA from the start. I enjoyed writing a little more casually, and have had fun with the dialogue. I didn’t start out to have a theme, really, but I really believe that everyone DOES have a purpose, so it was a natural expression of that belief.

RF: Which one of your characters would be the best to meet in real life?

JW: Oh, that’s hard! As far as the most mysterious and interesting, that would be Landon, who brought the outsiders to Ixeos. But if you want a fun time, probably Marty is your best bet.

RF: Are there any more projects you are currently working on? Do you know when we might get to see those?

JW: I’m currently working on the final book in the IXEOS Trilogy, Darian’s War. It should be out in November.

RF: What secrets would you share with aspiring authors?

JW: My favorite writing motto is stolen from Nike: Just do it! So many people ask me how to be a writer, and an astonishing number haven’t actually written. Just write!

Thank you so much to Jennings for stopping by to do an author interview with me. If you want to connect with Jennings Wright you can do so on Facebook, Twitter, at her blog, or on her website.  Don’t forget to check out all her books on Amazon.com.

If you’d like to find out more about my author features, or to sign up for your own, CLICK HERE to find out about it.

0 views

The Ups & Downs (and way downs) of Being an Independent Author

AuthorBeing an Independent Author sounds easy.  It sounds like a ton of fun.  First, you get to write.  I love that part.  Second, you don’t have to deal with the hassles of agents, query letters, chapter submissions, and the countless months waiting for answers.  I love that part, too.  And with the invention of KDP, Nook Press, and Smashwords (just to name a few) it is fairly easy to get your work published.  All this adds up to a very quick time from finishing a book to having it available to readers.  All of these reasons are exactly why I went the Independent Author route.  I had stories I wanted to tell and I wanted to reach readers quickly without the hassles of the traditional route.

Sounds easy doesn’t it.  A lot of people say it is easy.  Well that isn’t entirely true.  No one ever told me it would be easy.  They made is sound easy, they made it seem like the right path.  But no one ever said, this is the easy way to go.  And, I’m telling you right now… This is not the easy way to go.

Marketing as an independent author is hard, bordering on impossible.  There are so many authors standing on the roof tops yelling, “Buy my book!” that no one really listens anymore.  I am a member of several Facebook groups, and they are filled with nothing but “Buy my book” posts.  Now I wonder if anyone going to these groups looks for books to buy, or are they all coming to these groups to tell me to buy.  And your Facebook page and Twitter page will only reach a limited audience, and if all you do is try to sell you’re follower numbers shrink even more.  I love my blog audience, but again this is a tiny group of people.

Independent Authors talk a lot about the way we should share each others posts, help build the word of mouth, but in actuality they rarely step up to the task.  Is that bad of them?  No, they should only share what they want to share.  Not just share because I say they should.  But the point being is that social media is not the selling tool everyone thinks it is.  It is not a direct selling method.  That is to say that if you expect to tweet your book link and get clicks and sales from that, it won’t work.  But if you expect people to follow you for you (because they like what you post about), well then you just might get somewhere.

Don’t even get me started on how Facebook has destroyed the ability for the Indie author to reach out.  Let just say, now that only roughly 10-25% of my followers even see my posts, it has really killed my ability to use them for anything.

With the release of Volition Agent, a novel which I thought was anticipated by my readers, I have found that there are many down sides to being an Indie Author.  My sales numbers for Volition Agent have been so low I’ve found myself fighting off a bit of depression.  It is hard when you’re very excited about a novel, and the release day comes and you get no love.  It stings actually.  No, stings isn’t the right word.  It makes you sink so low that you wonder if writing is even your calling.  It makes you want to throw everything away and yell “FUCK IT” and walk away.

Then you get your first review on Amazon.  I was so happy to see a five star rating on Amazon.com.  It was a short review, “Although I’m only a third of the way through the book, I’ve found the ideas and writing style to be so good that I want to read more. Highly recommend this.”  But that review lifted me up.  They like the book, they like it so much they want others to know before they even finished it.  So naturally I shared this with all the writing groups I am on.

In one particular group, another user commented.  That user said. “Only a third of the way through the book, and already recommending it? Based on what I’ve seen I would wait for it to come the the library, rather than pay money for it.”

Talk about a slap down to Earth.  This hurt for several reasons:  First this is an authors and artists group.  Not one other Author in that group spoke up in my defense.  Not even the admin.  It is a fairly standard rule the constructive criticism is acceptable, but there is nothing constructive here.  The comment was meant solely to crush my positive review.  What happened to the Independent authors banding together?  Of course now, I find it funny that he would criticize a review simply because they passed judgement when they were 1/3 through, but he passed judgement without reading a word.

Then I go to seek comfort in my sales numbers, to which I found no comfort.  I simply slipped way down into the depths of a depression and the “screw it” mentality that I stopped planning anymore writing projects.  I simply shut down, and had enough.  Being an independent author hurts and there is no respect in it.  I’ve tried a lot to get some hype built.  My giveaway on Goodreads is doing well enough. My giveaway on Rafflecopter is a laughing matter, with only 7 entries.  The photo contest will likely be canceled because of no entries.  I’m still trying to get people to click on my Goodreads ads (with no luck and a lot of money still tied up).  And neither book has even broke even yet.

It isn’t about money for me.  It never has been.  I just want to be read, and accepted by readers.  I just want people to enjoy my stories, but how do I make them aware I even exist.  I love the fans I have, and I am sure some of them are telling their friends to get my books, but I want to find some new readers.  For the independent author this is the hard part.

So between this new level of depression and the 60 hour work weeks of my day job, I haven’t bothered to care about writing anything.  I know I am not the only indie author that feels this way.  I know I am not the only one that feels like they’ve tried everything to get people excited and talking about their work, only to find that no one cares.  I know I am not alone, but it certainly feels that way.

There are ups too.  Like getting an Amazon review, a Goodreads review, and especially a blog review.  Yesterday I got a very nice, actually it was excellent, review from the Devoted Mommy of 3 blog.  I know of a review coming for Volition Agent, though I don’t know when yet.  And I’ve had a few positive words from others about my books.  So, I started another novel.  I’ll keep writing because I have faith that eventually readers will discover me, and when they do they will want to read as much of what I have written has they can find.  So for them I keep writing, and for them I will stay on the independent path for now.

Now many of you writers might be reading my blog and thinking; Oh man, Independent Authoring sucks!  I’m going traditional.  Well, that is a choice that is up to you.  I think every author needs to ask themselves three questions before deciding if traditional or Independent in the right choice for them.

Why do I write? If you are writing to get your stories out to readers as quickly as possible then that leans to the independent side.  If you are writing to get “discovered” and make a good living on it, you might want to think about the traditional route.  That doesn’t mean that indie authors don’t get discovered, it just means that your odds are lower.

Where do you want to see your books sold? If you want to see your books in B&N stores nationwide, traditional.  If your writing to see your works published quickly on the major online retailers, indie.  If you are happy with local book sellers, you might try the indie route, but be prepared to do some convincing.  If you want book tours, book signings, and all that fun stuff, traditional is your choice.  If you want blog tours, indie is good.

Do you want to make this your career?  If you plan to write for a career, I don’t know that Indie is your choice.  It certainly isn’t the faster way to do it.  I am still in the negative for Dissolution of Peace, which I have spent roughly $500 on to date.  I think I have made about $150 on the book so far, I am still -$35o on the book.  I’m already into Volition Agent for around $350, I’ve just now hit $15 into that.  You don’t get rich in the indie market, at least not easily.  All marketing, cover art, editor, and promotional costs are on you.  I haven’t even included the free books I’ve give away in the costs above.  You won’t make a lot of money easily.  But, there is no guarantee you’ll make it big in the traditional method either.  Even if you make a sale, most books don’t earn out their advance and start earning royalties.

Typically this would be the part where I tell you that you can help me in a few simple steps.  You know the drill because it is on every Independent Author blog.  You know, write reviews, tell a friend, blah blah blah.  I’m going to skip all that.  You’ve heard it before and either you are doing it, or you are not.  That is your choice to make.

The point of this blog is simple.  Being an independent author is not easy.  If you are planing to be one, or are one, because you thought it would be the easier way.  You’ll get a rude awakening.  The independent author road is filled with a lot of ups and downs, and the down can be really bad.  But don’t give up either.  There will be critics, there will be praise, and most commonly there will be readers who will say nothing.  Just breath, get out of the funk, and start writing the next one.  I’m glad I saw that and started my third novel.

 

0 views