Apex’s Editor-in-Chief has posted a proposal on the Apex blog about the challenges of keeping a free-fiction magazine online and the obvious difficulties of funding it. There are a lot of different models on how to make enough profit to break even in this industry, particularly for web-based magazines. Orson Scott Card’s INTERGALACTIC MEDICINE SHOW posts a teaser of each story in each issue and requires purchase of the issue or a subscription to read the rest. JIM BAEN’S UNIVERSE does the same. CLARKESWORLD MAGAZINE offers fiction for free, funding itself through its evolving Citizens sponsorship program and its annual revenues from publishing REALMS, the print anthology of its past year of fiction.
Needless to say, for a free-fiction magazine, making ends meet is a daily stress and continual challenge, and everyone needs a little help these days to get along. Jason Sizemore has really devoted himself to keeping APEX as free of charge as possible, and that’s a wonderful thing in an age of fees, surcharges, hidden taxes, and that persnickety fine print that seals the fate of your soul. So here is the article Jason Sizemore with APEX MAGAZINE posted containing his proposal to help APEX keep publishing all that lovely free fiction!
There’s been some debate on the series of internet tubes about workable business models for online content. Some, like Cory Doctorow, believe free is good. If you give out a quality freebie, people will shell out money for more of that product. I like to think of this as the ol’ street dealer’s trick of giving out samples of coke to get people hooked on their drug. Others have argued to me that offering content such as short stories online, you have to go to a subscription or pay-per-play system.
I can’t say either one has worked for Apex Magazine. A combination of the two has not worked. Sponsorship worked for two months before enthusiasm for it died.
I’d like to try an alternative.
I’d like to see how many fans of short fiction (and Apex Magazine) are out there that would donate $10 (or more) on a recurring, yearly basis to help pay for magazine costs. Our yearly cost is around $10,000. Doctorow was given $10,000 to write one single story. For your $10,000, you get 24 months of Apex Magazine.
If you’d like to give Apex Magazine a hand then please send me an email to email@example.com. I don’t want to start collecting $10 (or more!) from people unless I know there are enough fans interested.
Please spread the word by reposting and retweeting this blog post.