Another One Bites the Dust

Genre: Fact, Article (Suitable for All)



‘Another One Bites the Dust’ appeared in Roadworks Magazine and later, on the online writers information site: Authors Network, among other places. In total, it was published seven times, which I think tells the story of small press in itself, as they were eager to use this article. I hope it highlights the problems of small press–a type of publishing on which many authors rely. Even Stephen King began writing for such small magazines, and they have helped to launch many careers. It’s also a strange article to look back on. The world of electronic publishing has come so far in such a short time, and I foresaw many of the changes. I remember being asked why I chose to even consider electronic press — the simple answer is I anticipated it becoming more mainstream and saw no reason to be left behind.

Potential talent has always had the problem of being recognised, tapped, and finding its place in the world. Writers everywhere have reason to mourn as they say a fond farewell to yet another of their advocates, and bury the remains in the expanding graveyard of small-press magazines. The Dream Zone (1999-2003) run by Editor, Paul Bradshaw, published innovative and inventive stories by both new and established writers.

Editors of, and writers for, these magazines face the same conundrum. Such magazines have selected availability and are usually obtainable by post or limited outlets. Therefore, most of the public do not get the opportunity to view much of the excellent body of work that is out there. Therefore, editors who wish to help talented writers often end up financing such endeavours from their own funds, for at least the first few years if not indefinitely. Struggling writers end up supporting the very publications that may help to launch successful careers that might otherwise have the misfortune of falling by the wayside. This leaves both the editor and writer ‘numb’ and disillusioned.

The subject is often further confused by the mistaken belief that editors and writers have ‘unlimited’ funds. Most writers, even published ones, often need to support their income by working on a part-time, if not full-time basis. Even when a small press publication is doing well, the editor usually tries to show his appreciation by paying contributors, even failing to cover costs, making it definitely a love instead of profit venture. Hence, many publications are transforming into ‘e-zines’ as these are largely cheaper to produce. This has a mixed reaction. On the one hand, I’ve come across a particular kind of snobbery that publishing on the internet isn’t real publishing. However, if your work has to meet a certain standard and demands of an editor, it should be no less valid than if produced in print. This form of publishing needs to be encouraged, not sneered at — it is, after all, meant to be a new millennium. The advent of email makes submissions and replies cheaper for the editor and writer alike. It’s not only time that concerns the writer but the cost of paper, ink, and postage. Writing can be ultimately one of the most rewarding experiences, but it is also costly in time and money.

As a writer, I try to support at least one such publication regularly and others ‘as and when’, which also keeps me up-to-date with what they are currently publishing. As pointed out to me by editor, Trevor Denyer, of Roadworks magazine– “I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for writers submitting their work, to study the market by buying AT LEAST one copy of the magazine. If everyone who submitted work did that, it would go a long way to helping protect the markets that they rely on.”

I also have to admit that, when I’m going to be in print, I’m not above telling friends and family and asking how many copies they would like. I’ve heard so often how proud they are, and I’m only asking that they put their money where their mouth is. I’m asking no more or less than I would do for them. After all, they fork out good money for total strangers and value their books for a lifetime.

© Sharon Maria Bidwell, all rights reserved.

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