The hardest Futurismic post I’ve ever had to write

Paul Raven @ 20-10-2010

OK, folks, I have a difficult announcement to make. I’ve just shut off the Futurismic fiction submissions webform, and after two more stories – one in November and one in December – we’re not going to be publishing any more fiction for a while.

First of all, what this doesn’t mean: it doesn’t mean the end of Futurismic, which I’ll be continuing to maintain as a journal of futurism, socioeconomic and technopolitical oddities, science fiction and related topics, and which I hope will retain all of its current columnists for the foreseeable future.

It doesn’t mean the permanent end of Futurismic as a fiction venue, either. Indeed, if there were any other options available to Chris and myself at the moment, we probably wouldn’t be taking this one. This has been a difficult decision for both of us… even more so for Chris than for me, as he’s been Futurismic‘s fiction editor since before I even came on board as a naïve (and grammatically challenged) blogger back in 2006. We’re very proud of the work we’ve published here, and we’d very much like to publish more.

But sadly, the economics are unforgiving. As I hinted in my open letter to the hucksters of the Media Mayhem Corporation, the funding for Futurismic‘s fiction purchases have come from my own pocket since we recommenced publishing short stories in March 2008 with Eliot Fintushel’s “UXO, Bomb Dog”. My hope was that, by reinvigorating the fiction section with great new stories, we’d increase traffic and, as a result, increase revenue from advertising. As the Media Mayhem post also suggests, that plan has not come to fruition, to say the least… and thanks to other unplanned changes and upsets in my personal life of late, I simply don’t have the spare money to keep doing it at the moment. As such, and with great regret, Chris and I have agreed it’s time to close the doors for a while.

If you’re thinking “well, there are other ways to make money with Futurismic, surely?”, then you’re probably right; if you’ve been following along with my blogging, you’ll have noticed me keeping a weather eye out for web publishing business models, of which there are a multitude, ranging from the utterly untested to the promising-but-unproven. There are any number of them that I’d love to try out: perhaps we could do a Strange Horizons and go non-profit, asking for donations from loyal readers; perhaps there really is such a thing as a sub-100,000-pageviews ad broker company that isn’t run by duplicitous hucksters, and which would net us the necessary funds to pay for the fiction; perhaps we could run a Kickstarter-type project, sell scarce goods (limited anthologies, maybe?) and community kudos in exchange for financial support. Any or all of these things could work.

But planning and realising them would take time… and when money’s short, time becomes a commodity in and of itself. Running Futurismic just as a blog is time consuming enough, and I’d have given it up long ago were it not for the fact that it provides a psychologically vital part of my intellectual routine, not to mention an outlet for the stuff I think and write about which would never find a home elsewhere. I’ve always accepted that Futurismic would probably never pay me a penny, but I’ve long believed that it could – and it should! – pay its own way, at least as far as rewarding the contributors for their hard work is concerned.

And I hope that one day it will… but the arrival of that day is contingent on me finding more money or more time, or (more realistically) both. Offers of advice and assistance in the interim will be received with great gratitude*, but for now I have to lay the burden down for a while and concentrate on the work that pays my rent; Chris, meanwhile, plans to devote more time to his own fiction writing.

I’m still hugely proud of what we’ve done; all I have to do is click through the fiction archives and look at the excellent stories we’ve published to know that I was doing something worthwhile. And trust me – as soon as I have the resources to spare, Futurismic will return to being the foremost paying venue online for the near-future subgenres of science fiction, with all the vengeance I can muster.

At this point I should take the time to thank everyone who’s helped along the way: our fiction authors, obviously, for submitting their wonderful work to us; our columnists and guest bloggers, who continue to contribute for no reward other than whatever satisfaction it gives them; and the other bloggers and editors and reviewers and fans who’ve linked to us, talked about the stories and made Futurismic a part of the genre machine.

But most of all, I want to thank you, Futurismic‘s readers. Knowing you’re all sat out there waiting for new stories has been one of the big forces that’s kept us buying new fiction, and it’s also the big force that will push me back to buying fiction as soon as I’m able. From myself, from Chris, and from all the authors we’ve published: thanks for reading, and please don’t be strangers. Don’t go calling us a dead venue; we’re just gonna hibernate for a while. 🙂

And to end on a high note, don’t forget that we’ve got two great stories in the bag to take us up to the end of the year. The first will be up at the start of November, so mark your calendars.

[ * Offers of donations – of which there have been a few – are also very gratefully received, but the legal status of Futurismic as it stands means that we cannot actually accept donations, simply because I have no idea how to legally account for them. However, offers of advice from professionals who know the ins and outs of registering and running non-profits arts organisations (and the tax obligations thereof) will be exploited as fully as their makers will permit. 🙂 ]


Schedule interruption: no fiction this month

Paul Raven @ 01-10-2010

Just thought I should drop a note here to say that there’ll be no new fiction here at Futurismic this month, and explain why that is.

The simplest and strongest reason is that I just can’t afford to buy any right now. To cut a long story short, since I took over the reins and we restarted publishing fiction after our long hiatus back in March 2008, Futurismic has had close to zero income; in other words, the fiction budget has been coming out of my pocket. Unfortunately, because of the way the cashflow of a freelancer tends to work (think “erratic”, then scale up by an order of magnitude), combined with the financial tribulations attendant on the rather unexpected change in my personal circumstances that occurred back in spring of this year, I just don’t have the money to spare this month.

“But what about those ads on the site, Paul?” I hear you ask. Yeah, what about those ads? Well, the post coming after this one might go some way to explaining that element of the equation, so stay tuned.

However, this is just a temporary measure: Chris and I have a couple of stories waiting in the wings that we’re going to buy and publish, and we’re still looking for more. Futurismic is not ceasing fiction publishing; I care too damn much about what we do here to let it drop. There’ll be a new story in November, so keep ’em peeled; this is just a rest for breathing space.

Thanks for reading. 🙂