IFWG Publishing will be transforming SQ Magazine into an eZine from March 2012 and will print an annual ‘Best Of’ print and ebook anthology in tandem with it. The reasons for this decision are many and complex, and it is worthwhile spending a few paragraphs explaining our philosophy and attitude toward change.
IFWG Publishing was formed in late 2009 and commenced publishing in January 2010. The four of us established the company for essentially three reasons, and they form our continuing core values:
- We believe that there is a real need for more publishers in our industry who are willing to take on, and invest in, emerging authors, particularly in the speculative fiction genres and subgenres.
- We believe that we can be a viable, maintainable speculative fiction publishing business.
- We believe that we can be a publisher with an industry accepted reputation for excellence.
When we started we set ourselves goals and created a business and delivery plan that consisted of several elements. The prime element was to publish about a dozen titles a year—this we achieved for our first year, and the success will be repeated at the close of 2011.
We frequently review our goals and plans, and we have certainly jettisoned some of the elements over time. Two goals did emerge early on and are key to this discussion: The Story Quest Short Story Contest, and SQ Magazine. Both these initiatives were felt to contribute to all three core values, but in particular number 1.
The Story Quest Short Story contest was created with the view to attracting new writers to the reading public. It started as a two contest per year event, with no genre restrictions. Prizes at the time reflected IFWG’s core values—the winner would be given the opportunity to have a large body of work published through traditional means; the winner and short listed authors would have their stories published in SQ Magazine—being the prime technique to expose new writers to the reading public.
SQ Magazine was named after the Story Quest contest. This, at the time, seemed to reflect the synergy between the two initiatives. We started by not being restricted to genres, but with the view to moving to speculative fiction—this we did in 2011. We followed the philosophy of publishing new authors fastidiously—and will continue to indefinitely.
Both our initiatives have been, in our view, successful, albeit with a relatively small footprint in the publishing and speculative fiction domains. This was expected, as we believe it takes time to build ‘street cred’.
Now to the specific reasons/background to why we are making this major change.
- Print magazines are in decline, especially for small publications, and this in turn ups the unit production cost, which in turn declines sales. Get the rather nasty spiralling pattern?
- eZines are in the ascendency—they are more popular, are ultimately more easy to produce, and are more flexible with different business models.
- Our magazine schedule is harder impacted by delays than our title schedules—as a small publisher we need to find a way to address this, and ezine production is a good solution.
- Finally, our production of the magazine through Amazon has been king-hit with a price increase—this really was the final blow.
The ‘final blow’ meant that our plans to moving to ezine after SQ Magazine #4 or #5 (middle to late 2012) has now been moved forward to early 2012. We are aiming for March 2012 to go live. The ezine will be rebadged to ‘SQ Mag’.
We see this as a smart move. We are following a model that has a much better opportunity for author exposure to readers, and the yearly anthology that will publish the best 20 or so stories for a year, will satisfy authors who wish for print (and ebook). Readers will get a boost in quality and quantity of short fiction—for free.
Transition, however, is always a companion of pain and inconvenience. SQ#4 was due in December 2011/January 2012, but the ezine won’t be ready by then. We are in about to go into negotiation with authors who submitted to SQ prior to this announcement, to make sure they are happy with the processes of change. We need to construct our website. And so forth.
The details of what we will produce will come soon. I can foreshadow this much: we will more than DOUBLE the number of short stories that will be published in a year; we will continue to publish a high percentage of emerging writers.
The SQ Mag and IFWG Publishing Team