Bart Leib, Editor in Chief

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This is a very broad look at what goes into producing Crossed Genres magazine. This isn’t necessarily a blueprint for how all magazines work – later in the post I’ll touch on the larger differences between Crossed Genres and other magazines.

Production of an issue really begins some time before the month we’re actually pulling it all together. It starts when we begin to accept submissions for that issue (okay, it really starts sometime before that, but I’ll get to that in a minute). We announce a “theme” genre on the first day of a month, and writers have that calendar month to submit stories that combine the theme with SF and/or F. We accept submissions until the last day of a month, and that issue will be published just one month later (i.e., submissions during the month of April would be published June 1). We can’t make our final decisions on which stories to accept until we’ve read all of them, and we can’t very well put together the issue until we know what’s going in it.

So what does that mean? It means that for each issue, after we’ve finished accepting submissions, have just one month to:

· Make our selections, contact the authors and arrange contracts and payments

· Send rejection letters for the submissions we don’t accept

· Edit the stories and communicate with the authors for approval on any changes

· Format all the content

· Put together the Print edition of the issue

· Resize/reformat the Print edition for PDF publication

· Reformat the Print edition for Kindle publication

· Add HTML tags to all the content

· Build an updated website with the new issue and all necessary changes

· Update our store

Of course, that’s only the work for the issue which hasn’t already been done. Prior to any of that, we have to track down and make arrangements for Cover art, nonfiction articles and interviews. During any given month, while we’re doing all of the above, we’re simultaneously searching for content for the two, three or even four issues that will follow. As I write this we’re putting together Issue 6, but we’re already in the early stages of making arrangements for Issue 10.

We also have spent a good amount of time dealing with past issues as we’re working on the current one. Fortunately we’ve changed our process somewhat over the last couple of months and have almost eliminated the need to look back… fortunately, because we’ve got enough to deal with in the present and future.

Not all magazines work like CG – in fact, in some very significant ways, most don’t.

See, most SF/F magazines don’t have monthly “theme” genres. That means that at any time they can accept any SF/F submission for any issue. This gives them enough flexibility that if they receive a great story, but their upcoming issue is full, they can buy the story’s rights for an upcoming issue. In fact many magazines are consistently booked out months in advance. This ALSO means that, if one of those magazines goes an entire month without receiving a single submission they’re happy with, they can simply accept nothing because they don’t have any spots to fill for a couple of months anyway.

This is something Crossed Genres can’t do because of our monthly “themes” – we have to work with the pool of submissions we have for each genre. We’ve been fortunate enough so far to have high-quality submissions every month, but it’s theoretically possible that at some point we could be forced to accept stories we weren’t satisfied with; it’s because of this that we put out multiple calls for submissions each month.

We also almost never have the flexibility to accept a story for an issue other than the upcoming one. Submissions for one theme rarely also meet the criteria for another theme. (For example, most “Romance” submissions won’t fit the “Western” theme too well.)

Another way in which Crossed Genres differs from other magazines is in staff: it’s just us, my wife Kay and I. Editors, slushmasters, advertisers, webmasters, layout designers… we wear all the hats, in addition to our “real” jobs, and raising our son. There are a number of other magazines in similar situations, but there are also those with significantly larger staffs that can more easily distribute the responsibilities. (This actually has advantages as well as disadvantages. We can make decisions very easily; there’s no need for approval from other parts of the team, because we are the team. Miscommunication is almost nonexistent since there’s very little chance that one person’s heard something while another hasn’t.)

Of course, there are always numerous other things that come up and have to be addressed each month – Crossed Genres is a passion, but it’s also a business, so we’re always dealing with marketing, advertising, and generally figuring out where the money for the next issue is coming from.

CG has also changed a great deal since its inception 7 months ago; we began as a nonpaying market but switched to token payments, and have always had our eyes on eventually reaching professional rates; we switched from being a publisher to using print-on-demand and have begun to offer the magazine in digital formats; we’ve released our first audio recording of a story. None of these things were part of our original plan, but it became obvious that they were the way to go. The key to everything has been flexibility (as well as a willingness to have no lives and give up on sleep); the running of the magazine is still shifting, and I suspect it’ll keep shifting, subtly, for some time. I already have enough material to write a book just based on “so far”, let alone what’s to come.

There’s a lot about the process of running the magazine that I just couldn’t fit in a single blog post, and I apologize for that. I’ve been considering doing a daily blog on the day-to-day running of the magazine; if that’s something you’d be interested in, please let me know!

Bart R. Leib

Editor, Crossed Genres

Contact Crossed Genres


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13 comments to Bart Leib, Editor in Chief

  • Hi Bart, I follow you over at LiveJournal as xjenavivex. This was a great article. Thank you very much. I am definitely interested in knowing more on a continual basis.

  • […] me to make a post to Magical Words describing (in very broad terms) what a month looks like for us. The post went up on Friday, April 10; the response was very positive, and enough people expressed interest in the daily blog that I […]

  • Thanks for the guest post, Bart. We’re very pleased to have you here at MW. Interesting to get the inside perspective, and I have to say that I love the idea of themed issues. Do you have a url for guidelines and upcoming themes for those of us who might like to submit work for consideration?

    Best wishes,

    David Coe

  • Yeah, I think I looked the site up back when Faith got that article in there and mentioned it. I love the premise of the magazine with the monthly cross-genre themes. I’ve been wanting to pick up an issue before I try and send a story, but haven’t managed to do so yet. Money’s a bit on the tight side at the moment. I know you can view the stories and such on the site, but I’m not a big PC screen reader. And I’ve just always liked physical copies of books and mags to flip through.

  • David: thanks! The themes have definitely drawn a lot of interest. We just this month started posting a couple of Upcoming Genres so writers could have a bit more time to plan ahead with their submissions: you can see the Current and Upcoming genres at http://www.crossedgenres.com/current.htm. The submissions guidelines are at http://www.crossedgenres.com/submissions.htm

    Daniel: We totally get the desire to have the physical copy of the magazine, and to be honest, we still get a thrill ourselves when we get our proof copies. It’s a remarkable feeling. We’ve been doing our best to bring our costs down; you can now get copies of Issues 2-5 for $8 through Amazon, plus they’re eligible for the free super saver shipping. We’re also doing a big sale for purchases through the e-store (although shipping isn’t free there). More info on that at http://www.crossedgenres.com/store.htm. (We know it’s still more than some other magazines, but at the moment it’s the best we can do without losing money.)

  • The Alternate History one looks interesting. Now if only I could convince one of those plotbunnies to come in short story length and not grow subplots the moment I turn my back. :)

  • Oh heck with it, I went ahead and ordered a copy. Might get a copy of the dystopian one too. Had a little birthday money left.

  • Bart, this was great! Thanks for guesting here at MW.Net!

  • Amarenda

    Cool to read this, Bart! Thank you. I’d love to see you do a more day-to day blog as well. I’m just starting to send my work into the big world, as well as trying to help guide youngsters with the same ambition, and I’d love to have a glimpse into the editing of CG.
    Best,
    Ama

  • (I think this got deleted the first time… if it posts twice I apologize)

    Because we all knew I would end up going ahead with it… the Crossed Genres daily blog is a go!

    Genre Splicing is up and running at http://www.crossedgenres.com/blog/. I’ll be doing my best to blog every day (including weekends). Comments and questions to posts are welcome, as are extra questions for future Q&A posts I’ll be doing (send questions to questions@crossedgenres.com).

    Thanks to everyone who expressed interest in the daily blog and got me motivated to move forward with it!

  • Sweet. I shall bookmark the site in my Writing folder.

  • Well, here’s a bit to discuss, triggered by the current theme on Crossed Genres. :)

    What if a writer takes the typical features of Urban Fantasy (some supernatural beings and a reason why they’re around, a hero/heroine who has to deal with the nastier species of the lot, preferably hidden from the normal people, etc.) and uses Imperial Rome or some other ancient metropolis as setting. Would that still count as Urban Fantasy? It works for mysteries.

    No, I don’t think I could write that, but it sounds like a cool idea. 😉

  • Thanks for the blog, Bart. I would definately be interested in reading about what it takes to get a magazine up and going. I hope to be able find a theme to trigger a great story in my head so I can send it to you.