News: A Semi-What Zine?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Our most recent blogpost ignited a small amount of confusion about what exactly is a semi-professional SFF magazine or 'semi-prozine' as they are commonly known. GUD, a semi-pro since its inception, has been reviewed by Tangent Online in the past. A little bird tells us we may be on Tangent's list of the 'few exceptions' among the semi-prozines that will continue to receive reviews. That takes us off the bland list :). But what is a semi-prozine and why have they suddenly become pariahs?

Jason Sanford has kindly provided the World Science Fiction Society's definition:

The Constitution of the World Science Fiction Society currently defines a Semiprozine as follows:
Any generally available non-professional publication devoted to science fiction or fantasy which by the close of the previous calendar year has published four (4) or more issues, at least one (1) of which appeared in the previous calendar year, and which in the previous calendar year met at least two (2) of the following criteria:
1. had an average press run of at least one thousand (1000) copies per issue,
2. paid its contributors and/or staff in other than copies of the publication,
3. provided at least half the income of any one person,
4. had at least fifteen percent (15%) of its total space occupied by advertising,
5. announced itself to be a semiprozine.

Just five magazines were nominated for the 2010 Hugo: Ansible, Clarkesworld, Interzone, Locus, and Weird Tales, certainly fewer than were eligible under the criteria.

Duotrope's Digest has a simpler definition: A semi-pro market pays "between 1 US cent per word and 4.9 US cents per word. A 3,000-word story sale would result in as little as US $30 to as much as US $149.99." A search on Duotrope for semi-pro markets generates sixty-nine markets for 'Science Fiction' and sixty-five for 'Fantasy'. As there's probably a great deal of overlap, it seems probable that Duotrope's definition would include some sixty-nine markets.

If your choice is between reviewing around seventy magazines or merely five, perhaps you would be 'ecstatic' (as several Tangent Online reviewers were reported as being) when sixty-four are discarded as bland, too PC, obsessed with gender equality on their covers, unoriginal, not...GUD?

This of course isn't the opening salvo in the war of the semi-prozine's decline and fall. That first shot was the attempt to remove the Best SemiProzine category from the Hugos, an assault that was valiantly fought off by Clarkesworld, who then went on to win it--proof, perhaps, that justice can be done.

Let us not rest on Clarkesworld's laurel, however. The semi-pros need to stand up for themselves and each other as much as ever. The war for our respectability as markets is on.

Edited to add: Our little bird, who's been very busy on our behalf lately, it seems, tells us that a review site especially for semi-prozines is in the works. You heard it here first!

Birdie interjects: you heard it here first: Announcing Rise Reviews!

- reddit, digg, facebook, stumbleupon, etc... please! ;)
posted by Debbie

8 comments; 3 subscribers

Sunday, November 14, 2010 / 12:17:03
Apparently, we are *not* on Tangent's list of non-PC-to-the-point-of-blandness semi-pros--or so we deduce from the lack of notification.

Boo hoo! (Good thing we cancelled that copy of Isue 6 we were going to send them--anyone want it? XD)
Sunday, November 14, 2010 / 17:19:28
"Apparently, we are *not* on Tangent's list of non-PC-to-the-point-of-blandness semi-pros--or so we deduce from the lack of notification."

I love the way you twist words, Debbie. We do not have any list of non-PC-to-the-point-of-blandness semi-pros," or anything of the sort.

Everyone forgets that in my editorial I also mentioned magazines of even lesser payment plans than the "higher end" semi-pros like Interzone, Weird Tales and a few more. And by these "lesser paying" magazines I mean those that pay in contributor copies, or 1/4c/wd. or maybe even 1-2c/wd.

You are lumping in all magazines we choose not to cover as being those determined to be PC, or bland, or whatever--which is a serious mistake in logic. There are _some_ magazines that, after reading them for years, never seem to improve; their fiction is easily seen as amateurish. The PC remarks I made applied _primarily_ to a few editors, and not necessarily to semi-pro or pro magazines. But you've taken the PC comments to apply to those magazines we no longer have the _time_ to cover.

Your penchant for twisting what was said to your own ends is evident when you again say we won't cover magazines that are "obsessed with gender equality." This is patently false. I have no problem whatsoever with women being on the cover of collections or magazines. I _do_ have a problem when they (or anyone else) is placed on the cover simply to make things "equal." It's affirmative action where it's not needed, and is an affront to the females; it tells them they aren't capable of making the cover of a magazine or collection on the strength of their work.

But you've twisted my comments and have me saying we won't cover magazines if we deem them to be "PC," which is absurd.

My main objection to PC (wherever I find it) is that it tends to stifle thought, and speech, and in some cases action. My definition may differ from yours, but that makes neither of us wrong or a person to be shunned, treated like a leper, ignored, or made fun of (not saying you are doing this). It just means we have a different view of what PC means.

I happen to be strongly a pro-choice person. I happen to believe gays and lesbians should be given every legal right that straights have if they choose to tie the not. Although, I think the term "marriage" should apply only to hetero couples, and "civil unions" to gay marriage. The only thing I differ on in this regard with some is the use of one word. Does that make me a homophobe? I sure hope not, or you'd be labeling the President a homophobe as well. :)

Reasonable people can disagree reasonably on sensitive, important issues, without being automatically labeled with some derogatory "ism," and there's far too many of the vocal PC crowd who do this, and it stifles dialogue.

Please understand that 95% of my reasons for making the decision I did re covering certain semi-prozines and dropping others had to with my own reading time. Only maybe 5% of the decision had to do with issues _outside_ the actual semi-pro question, and one of them happened to be the PC element I've seen creeping into SF over the years, and how it has affected _some_ of what I've been seeing lately, which is some of what I consider to be unfair witch hunts when anyone says the least little thing with which some others disagree. I think this is bad for SF and bad in general, and was an ancillary reason at best (because I was thinking of the field as a whole) when I mentioned PC.

All I ask is that people play fair, read carefully, and at least try to see what I wrote as the big picture, and not try to pick and choose and take things out of their intended overall context.

Monday, November 15, 2010 / 04:13:32
Maybe I'm being dense, but there must be a list of the non-professional magazines Tangent is prepared to review, or how will anybody know which they are? That's the list we appear not to be on. I suppose there could be any number of ways of describing that list; I chose one.

It also seems to me that just because you choose to attribute cover design to 'PC' motives, doesn't mean that was the actual motive. Only the people who designed and approved that cover know what they were thinking. Maybe they chose four female names as being names they hoped would attract readers to pick up that issue--we all know some names sell more than others. What is an affront to females is to be left not just off the covers but out of the magazines altogether.

Not sure where gay marriage came in to the argument, but I'm of the duck school--if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, why not call it a duck? But the homophobia or otherwise of POTUS has nothing to do with the semi-prozines, I'm thinking.
Monday, November 15, 2010 / 04:18:54
In addition, I'd like to mention that I'm damn proud my two issues of GUD (#3 and #6) came out roughly equal m/f without any effort whatsoever on my part to make them so. To me that indicates we're doing something right. That our contributors might be penalised because someone else decides it's just me being PC, rather than me picking the best of what was submitted without regard to who created it, pisses me off the nth degree.
Monday, November 15, 2010 / 04:19:19
Monday, November 15, 2010 / 04:49:59
Debbie said: "That our contributors might be penalised because someone else decides it's just me being PC, rather than me picking the best of what was submitted without regard to who created it, pisses me off the nth degree."

Who would choose not to review the stories in GUD because they thought GUD was being PC? Not me. I don't think (as far as I know, and I haven't read GUD in a longtime) that GUD is PC, and that factor wouldn't have any bearing on whether or not I chose to review GUD or not. The primary, overriding factor determining which zines Tangent covers is Time. The other stuff amounts to minor irritants I attribute to segments of the SF field in general. It's as simple as that. :)

Monday, November 15, 2010 / 05:00:22
Then maybe you should give us another read before deciding whether to review us :).
Monday, November 15, 2010 / 05:15:57
Send me a pdf and I'll toss it to the group (as I do with anything sent for possible review) and we'll see if anyone bites.

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