I have more Fanzine/Fancast Spotlights and Non-Fiction Spotlights lined up, but today I’m running another Semiprozine Spotlight, because the magazine in question is currently running a crowdfunding campaign and could use a boost.
Therefore, I am thrilled to feature New Edge Sword & Sorcery Magazine, who published an article of mine in their issue 0 and will publish more when their Kickstarter funds. So I’m happy to welcome Oliver Brackenbury, editor of New Edge Sword & Sorcery Magazine, to my blog today:
A note for Hugo nominators, New Edge Sword & Sorcery Magazine is not yet eligible for the Best Semiprozine Hugo, because they’re on their first (well, zeroth) issue and the Hugo rules require a minimum of four. However, they’re still well worth your attention.
Tell us about your magazine.
New Edge Sword & Sorcery magazine debuted in the Fall of 2022, featuring original short stories and in-depth non-fiction, all paired with glorious B&W illustrations and a painted cover. That prototype “issue #0” is free in digital formats and sold at-cost on Amazon PoD in both soft and hardcover formats, making it very easy to try out before committing to our currently-running Kickstarter for issues #1&2.
New Edge Sword & Sorcery takes the genre’s virtues of its outsider protagonists, thrilling energy, wondrous weirdness, and a large body of classic tales, then alloys inclusivity, mutual creator support, a positive fan community, and enthusiastic promotion of new works into the mix.
Who are the people behind your magazine?
I’m the editor and main person behind the project, however it would be impossible for me to do this without the magnificent Nat Webb on Layout & Design, Jordan Douglas Smith as Copyeditor, Kevin Beckett handling social media, and Tania Morrison-Moxham on Transcription.
We’ve also benefitted from some very kind volunteers who’ve helped with promotional outreach, and from Gonzalo Baeza’s Spanish translation skills.
Why did you decide to start your magazine?
After having some very exciting discussions last Spring, on the Whetstone Tavern discord, about how to make the S&S scene larger and more inclusive, someone suggested to me that I try to express ideas from that discussion in an anthology. I decided I’d rather do a magazine, but only if there were others who wanted to work with me on it.
So I set about creating the magazine I wanted to see in the world, made with love for the classics and an inclusive, boundary-pushing approach to storytelling, a gorgeous vessel for high quality writing & art, that would be a delight for Sword & Sorcery fans as well as draw in people from outside the community.
What format do you use for your magazine (print zine, PDF zine, e-mail zine, online zine, podcast, etc…) and why did you choose this format?
We produce digital (ePub & PDF), softcover, and hardcover formats. Digital because that’s how some people prefer to read, and it’s more accessible, both financially and for those who use text-to-speech software.
Softcover is your classic magazine format, and the more affordable physical one. Hardcover is something for the great lovers of books as long-lasting, beautiful physical objects. As far as I know we’re the only S&S magazine currently offering hardcover issues of our publication, and I’ve been gratified to see they’re very popular!
Science fiction, fantasy and horror were born in the pulps and short fiction has long been the beating heart of the genre. However, the focus of attention is increasingly moving towards novels and series. So why do you think SFF short fiction is important and worthy of attention?
Funny enough I’ve just recorded a short video on this, which I plan to release as an update on our Kickstarter.
Short fiction is a lower stakes environment where authors can more easily experiment, so you may find some really wild stuff that’d be less likely to be explored in the much larger investment that is a novel or series. SFF short fiction is also a great place to check out new, or new-to-you, talent without blowing up your “to be read” pile
Furthermore, it’s a great way to sort of “try before you buy”. For example, in 2020 I read “The Second Death of Hunuvar” by Howard Andrew Jones, discovering both the author and the titular character. I went on to enjoy a few more Hanuvar stories in the pages of SFF magazines, and now that Baen has announced a five book Hunuvar series of collected tales, you better believe I know I want to get them! If I hadn’t been able to check out Jones’ work and his Hanuvar stories the way I had, I’d be a lot less sure about committing to, say, a hardcover pre-order.
Those who really enjoy series can still get their kicks through serialized characters in short SFF fiction, getting a comic book collector kinda thrill by tracking down which publications feature stories with your favorite protagonists or shared settings. Often the authors are careful to craft their tales so that new readers can leap in with any story, but those who read them all are rewarded with little easter eggs and signs of character progression.
Finally, depending on the publication, you may get to enjoy more art than you’ll see in almost any novel. This is certainly the case with New Edge Sword & Sorcery magazine, which pairs every story and some of its non-fiction with an original B&W illustration – with two illustrations per piece if we make our first Kickstarter stretch goal!
One big problem for SFF magazines is monetarization. Readers are happy to consume short fiction, but they’re often unwilling to pay for it. What are your strategies for financing your magazine and paying your writers and staff?
Well, first up is the Kickstarter itself. That will cover semi-pro rates, or better if we hit our pay raise stretch goals, for authors & artists, along with an honorarium for staff other than myself. Afterward we’ll have stock to sell, with the profits being invested back into growing the magazine to a place where contributors and staff can be better paid. Ideally we could even connect with a distributor to get the magazine in stores. But yes, crowdfunding will continue to be our pre-order model going forward.
As a Canuck I plan to look into publishing grants from the government as well. Things like a Patreon or merchandise I only want to do if I think of some truly compelling ideas – you can always tell when people throw those up just for the sake of it, which isn’t very appealing. I may do a poll with our readers, as I did to ultimately decide our Kickstarter’s first day backer exclusive would be a bookmark featuring exclusive, original art.
I really want to treat this like a business, as opposed to a hobby, because only as a business will it be sustainable in the long run. Doing that lets me devote more time to making the magazine awesome, paying and promoting more creators as I do so! Treating creators the way I prefer to be treated as a writer really is a great pleasure for me in this venture.
The format of fiction magazines has changed a lot in the past twenty years. Print magazines still exist, but are no longer as dominant. Online and PDF zines are now the dominant form of short fiction delivery and fiction podcasts are becoming ever more popular. So where do you think magazines will go next?
Honestly I think less about format changes and more about outreach. I’d love to see magazines connecting with schools to help get the newest generations into reading short fiction for pleasure, for example. We all know it’s limiting to only preach to the choir, but I think it’s all too easy to not go far enough, to not preach outside the parish, so to speak. Easy for me, the new guy, to say of course…but I do think “beyond SFF readers, or even regular readers in general” is where short fiction magazines should go.
Whether that involves free-giveaway ‘zines at schools, plugging into forms of social media not yet invented, or what…I dare not say.
Are there any other great magazines, podcasts, editors, stories, etc… you’d like to recommend?
Oh yes. Within the S&S realm I can quite happily recommend Tales from the Magician’s Skull (where I found Hanuvar & Howard Andrew Jones), Old Moon Quarterly, and Whetstone magazine.
Great S&S podcasts include Rogues in the House, The Cromcast, and, well, So I’m Writing a Novel… is my own creature, a mix of interviews and following me behind the scenes as I write a Sword & Sorcery novel. I’m also a big fan of The Appendix N Podcast, which has a broader remit.
There’s lots of authors and stories to recommend, so I’ll just focus on one I read recently that made me reach out to the author for the magazine – “RAKSHASA IN A POT” by Prashanth Srivatsa. You can read it for free online.
Where can people find you?
www.newedgeswordandsorcery.com has links to all formats of issue #0, our socials, and our Kickstarter!
If people want to find me in particular, there’s www.oliverbrackenbury.com, and I’m on Twitter as @obrackenbury.
Thank you, Oliver, for stopping by and answering my questions.
Check out issue 0 of New Edge Sword & Sorcery Magazine and then head over to back their Kickstarter.
Do you run a semiprozine and want it featured? Contact me or leave a comment.
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