That Man Behind the Curtain: April 2012

There has been some positive interest in a regular blog post about the behind the scenes of making an e-zine. I’ve never done anything like this before, so it’s been a chance to see what editors face. For this first post, my thought is to also cover the initial genesis and the lead-up to publication.

Where This All Started

The original idea came up at a small local convention called Foolscap. Last year during a panel about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Monsters. What do they ultimately need? Zombies rarely extended past the bottom of the hierarchy, others fell out around other parts. Somehow mad scientists were included among the monsters and someone in the group asked, “Why isn’t there a scientific journal for mad scientists?”

I didn’t have a strong plan at the time, but thanks to the wonders of smartphone technology I registered the domain name right way. My writing schedule didn’t allow for me to do anything for the rest of the year. I had a couple short stories owed, a first draft of a manuscript for my publisher and NaNoWriMo killed the rest of the year for me.

I did manage to get my Web hoster to get the site set up for me, and I had at least placeholder content, but it was 2012 before I was able to really start to look at getting this going. In order to better fit the quarterly schedule, I opted to aim for a launch of the magazine in April. It would mean that a collection for 2012 would be short a few months, but if I got the quarterly ebooks going it would work out okay.

The Money Aspect

All numbers below are costs. I have a donation that will technically kick in later, so I have not included that.

September – December 2011

Domain registration for 3 years: $37.51
Hosting for four months @$17.06/month: $68.24
Total Cost: $105.75

Winter 2012

Hosting for three months @17.06/month: $51.18
Art: $132.00
Advertising: $40.00
Paypal Fees: $4.56
Total Cost: $237.74

April 2012

Hosting: $17.06
Stories: $50.00
Art: $90.00
Advertising: $30.00
Paypal Fees: $5.57
Total Cost: $192.63
YTD: $430.37
All Time: $536.12

To add a few notes:

When I was starting this, I commissioned a bit of artwork from Katie Nyborg, whose illustrations you’ve seen on the site. Some of it was intended for banner ads that have not been made, one was for the first story that appeared on the site: “The Dissection of Marcus Wade.” For most of the art, she’s been paid $30 per illustration.

$50 was spent to buy credits on 123RF Stock Photo for stock art. This got me 56 credits on the site, of which I’ve used 6.

I’ve done two ad campaigns on Facebook, mostly to drive people to the Facebook page. The first was to help drum up submissions, the second to just announce the launch of the first story.

Though some of the writing and art was paid for before April, I’ve listed it in the month of in order to highlight the cost of the actual content for that month. I similarly haven’t listed the cost of stories for May that have already been paid for.

I have opted to eat the Paypal processing costs, rather than have it taken out of the payment on their end. I figured that if you’re only getting $10 for a short story, having 59-cents taken from the payment is a big chunk.  If I’d mailed them a check, they would have actually gotten $10.


Between February and April, I’ve received a total of 26 submissions and accepted 14, which comes out to about 54% acceptance rate. Broken down it looks like this:

February: 17 submissions, 9 accepted (53%)
March: 6 submissions, 4 accepted (67%)
April: 3 submissions, 1 accepted (33%)

At this rate we have enough stories to continue publishing weekly through early July. Because I don’t have specific space I’m trying to fit the stories into, I don’t have a hard limit for the number of stories I can accept. If I have a year’s worth of stories accepted, I may change my mind about that.

In the interest in full disclosure, three of the stories accepted were by people I know. I’ll leave it to keen readers (or dedicated stalkers) to figure out which ones are by authors I know. One of the stories rejected was also by someone I know.

Most of the declined stories were turned down because they didn’t fit the submission criteria. Most of the others were declined because I just wasn’t engaged by their narrative. If the piece doesn’t draw me in, then I can’t expect other people to give it a chance either. This is less a commentary about the quality of the writing than about my reaction to the story.

I hope this has been educational. I’ll see you again next month!

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About Jeremy Zimmerman

Jeremy Zimmerman is a teller of tales who dislikes cute euphemisms for writing like “teller of tales.” His fiction has most recently appeared in 10Flash Quarterly, Arcane and anthologies from Timid Pirate Publishing. His young adult superhero book, Kensei, is due out in 2012. He is also the editor for Mad Scientist Journal. He lives in Seattle with five cats and his lovely wife (and fellow author) Dawn Vogel.
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