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 Hey folks,

Happy Ostara and Easter to all who celebrated these holidays this month. I can't believe how quickly 2010 is flying by. Will someone please lasso that bastard Father Time and tell him to slow down!?

Anyhoo, April's guest blog comes to us from R. Scott McCoy, publisher and editor of Necrotic Tissue Magazine. If you haven't grabbed a copy yet, I recommend you go grab a subscription now. I'm reading January's issue (because I'm always two steps behind), and it includes fine reads from the likes of Ms. Jodi Lee (Ring A Ring A Rosie) and other talented writers like Michael Knost, plus a write up of last year's Context that's sure to give you at least a gigglesnort or two.

Enough babbling. On with the guest blog!



April's Contributor


R. Scott McCoy was born in Kodiak Alaska and raised in Bemidji Minnesota. He currently lives in the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities with his family. He's had more than twenty short stories published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. His 1st Novel, Feast, was released from Shroud Publishing in September 2009 and his novel The White Faced Bear is due out from Belfire Press in March, 2011.

Scott is the Publisher of Necrotic Tissue, a quarterly horror magazine, and is an Affiliate Member of the HWA.

You can get in touch with Scott via email rscottmccoy@necrotictissue.com 

Please check out Necrotic Tissue at
www.necrotictissue.com and on my space at www.myspace.com/necrotictissuemag
 


R. Scott McCoy


Going to Print
By R. Scott McCoy


Print. A lot of discussion has occurred over the last two years around print versus electronic publishing. It's a complex discussion full of many different pros and cons, depending on people’s assumptions and preferences. Most of the discussion has centered on novels. This makes sense since the majority of E Published materials are novels. For that matter, the bulk of published materials are novels, E or print.

Short fiction is a different beast. Not that short fiction wouldn’t work well in electronic format. On the contrary, it has been quite prevalent in the industry for a decade. But there is contradiction in this fact. Magazines that are published electronically have less respect among writers. Loving print as I do, I understand this, and as a writer I feel the same way. An acceptance from an E magazine, even from a pro paying electronic magazine, just isn’t the same as a print acceptance. Writers love contributor copies, and a website, or even a PDF, just isn’t the same. There is just something about holding a print copy of a magazine that has your story in it. The feeling of holding a print copy of your very own novel is even better. It's solid. Real.

Where E Publishing succeeds most is when there is the option for both print and E, for devices like the Kindle. Even with readers, there has always been a greater legitimacy surrounding novels that came out first in hard cover. After all, how good could the book be if it was first released in paperback? Or electronically? A book that only comes out electronically is still met with suspicion. These perceptions may change over time, but even the children alive today, just learning how to read, are doing so from print books. The love and joy of reading is still being ingrained into our children by the tactile medium of print. Computer programs and DS's take up space in my children's rooms, but there are still coloring books, sticker books, and reading books. Elementary schools still have libraries full of paper. Until that fact changes, there will always be a segment of the population who will prefer print over E. Eventually, it may become counter culture to buy and own print, ensuring a rebellious percentage of the population will forever demand print.

We aren’t yet in that future. We are here and now, and the people of the here and now have a print preference that isn’t easily changed by technology. The choice of E over print is not the normal progression of technology. I don’t know anyone that wants to hold onto an outdated TV when they have the money to upgrade. Print vs. E isn’t the B&W three channel version vs. my current flat screen, satellite fed model. It's different, and always will be. TV didn’t replace radio any more than radio replaced books. It filled a related need, but the old tech still exists and thrives, albeit in a different format. There are few radio sitcoms on the airwaves because TV took that niche. In fact, many of the popular radio shows of the time were translated into TV. But music and talk radio created new market shares with the old medium. Now there is satellite and blog talk radio.

I am a writer, editor, and publisher. Everyone starts somewhere, and when I started Necrotic Tissue, I had no idea if I could do it. I believed I could, and I knew from previous experience that if I have the aptitude for something, then as long as it is important to me, I will learn what I need to in order to improve. Even so, I was cautious. Even if I proved a capable publisher and editor, I didn't know if I would have the money, time, or for that matter, enjoy it enough to put out the effort.

Because of this, along with the need for help from others (something I'm not good at asking for), I decided to start NT as an electronic magazine. I chose the option closest to paper, a print ready PDF.

As a writer of short fiction in the small press world, I ranked markets in three categories that had nothing to do with pay: ezines that publish fiction in HTML, then PDF, then print. You can segment them even more between free websites and hosted websites, but this was my first opinion on the subject, and it hasn't changed much with time. Pay is more obvious, and it goes from "For the Love", or no pay, to token pay, then semi pro pay, then pro.

The final indicator I needed to consider was the cost of the magazine to the reader. There is free, reasonably priced, and expensive. Most free magazines make money through donations and advertising. I knew that free magazines were looked down on, as are most things that are free. Unless the item has intrinsic value and is being given away freely as an obvious ploy, people simply don’t trust or value free. The idea is that if it's free, how good could it be? Selling is great, but there are a lot of things you need to do from a business and legal perspective in order to take payments. I just wasn’t ready and didn’t want to delay the launch of the magazine until I was ready.

As a writer I wanted to be paid, even a token amount. So I decided that, as a publisher, I needed to pay writers. I did the most I could with the resources and experience I had and chose to start with a token pay, PDF magazine that was free of charge. I've made several changes since issue #1, but the most significant change, from an effort perspective, is becoming a pay magazine.

People may have guessed it would be the transition from PDF to print, but the fact is the magazine was already formatted as a high resolution print magazine. The added workload includes having to send a file to a printer and stuffing envelopes once every three months. It takes some time, is expensive and makes a bit of a mess, but it's not a big deal to stuff envelopes. If I wanted to spend more money, I could even have the printer stuff the envelopes and mail them out, but the cost is too high, so I stuff my own (that sounds a bit dirty). Dealing with PayPal, keeping books and receipts, takes up time I would rather be writing.

The decision to go to print was easy once I realized that I had put out my fifth issue and was almost done with the sixth. I had done it, and had learned many business related things I would need to go to print, and start charging for NT in July 2009 with issue #7. Since the first print issue came out, it's as if we emerged full grown into the world with no history or past. Sure, the writers that we'd accepted in the first six issues were fans as were a few others in the small press horror community, but because we were an Ezine and free, we were seen as being less. It wasn't personal, any more than my own opinions of other markets that were also free and electronic wasn't spiteful or personal. It just was. One person actually asked me why I was starting my magazine with issue #7. She thought it was odd not to start at #1. The question only magnified the reality for me that, as far as most people were concerned, Necrotic Tissue didn’t fully exist until it came out in print.

I'm a writer. I submit regularly to a variety of markets and get plenty of rejections. I submit to pro markets. When I can't get a story in one of them, I go next to print publications with a good reputation, like Shroud. I think Necrotic Tissue is on the same quality level of Shroud. We're different in format and structure, but from a writer's perspective, we are on the same level. Problem is, I don’t self publish, so I need markets like Shroud to not only survive but thrive. This isn't the only reason I choose not to try and compete with Shroud or any other magazine for that matter. I believe there are enough readers for several quality print, short fiction magazines, especially if we offer slightly different products. Competition is simply self destructive in the small press world. Unlike most types of market places, small press is volatile with a low chance of return on investment, and requires at least five years of consistent presence to gain a decent following. Writers will flock to any new market that isn’t an obvious scam like starving crows, but readers are harder. The sad fact is that most writers aren't wealthy and rarely subscribe to more than one magazine. Uber fans that grab up everything in a genre are too rare to support all magazines, so a fan base must be built over time (if there is a short cut to gaining subscribers, please email me with the answer).

The transition to print has been an interesting and exciting one. I have no doubt it was the right thing to do, and I'm glad the writers and the NT Staph are getting more attention and appreciation, because from the first word a writer types all the way to the Man Cave, where I stuff envelopes, a hell of a lot of work goes into each issue of Necrotic Tissue. What makes it all worth it for me are the emails from grateful writers and fans, as well as kind words from the reviewers. The original spark of inspiration that led me to this place was the hope I could give something back. I've read millions of words of fiction, and those words have thrilled and entertained me since I was a child. Now I have a chance to give that gift to readers, while giving writers a chance to share their stories. It is more rewarding than I had imagined back in 2007 when that spark grew into an ember, and my friends helped me breathe life into Necrotic Tissue.

* * * *

And Skullvines Press have a brand new forum! The old one was stolen in the night by mischievous little Moogie Pies! Change your bookmarks, and come over to visit everyone at:

http://merchantskeep.com/forum/

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