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?
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!
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