AMAZING STORIES: THE STATE OF THE THING

An overview of the state of Amazing Stories, just a bit shy of our two year anniversary.

Well now.  We’re just about a month shy of this incarnation of Amazing Stories’ 2nd anniversary.

Yes, as difficult as that may be to believe, Amazing Stories the ‘social magazine’, the ‘multi-author blog’, the ‘bring back Amazing as a fiction market project’ is only two years old!

Yes, as difficult as that may be to believe, Amazing Stories the ‘social magazine’, the ‘multi-author blog’, the ‘bring back Amazing as a fiction market project’ has already been operational for two full years!

As you can see, we try to cover all of the bases.  Whether you’re astonished at our longevity or surprised at how far we’ve come in such a short time, it’s still worthy of an exclamation point.

So what have we accomplished, how have we been disappointed and where are we going?

Good questions all, but first, a much deserved mention for all of those who have helped us reach this time and place – our contributors, supporters, subscribers and members.  Spend five minutes on the site and it will be readily apparent that we are blessed and benefit from the participation of a huge number of folks (almost 11,000 in total; almost 160 contributors and staff).  The “brain trust” that we have assembled is itself worthy of accolade.

So what have we accomplished?

We brought the name back as a going thing within the SF/F/H community.  Considering that it was fated to become the moniker for a series of travel books prior to our intervention, that’s no small feat.  (And a sweaty, nervous, long-drawn-out wait that was!)

We’ve gotten over 10,000 people from all over the world to sign up with the site.  (If each of you got 9 other people to register and sign up, we’d reach our second membership goal – and would have a reader base far in excess of any and every “magazine” serving the genre.  This is not un-doable nor far-fetched:  there are, by good measure, 6,500,000 self-identified “readers of SF and Fantasy” in the United States alone.  The US population is 4/10ths of a percent of global population.  If the percentage of genre readers in the US held across the globe, there’d be an estimated 142 million readers of our favorite genres around the world.  If everyone of those readers kicked in a dime (a dime!), we’d be budgeted at almost one and a half million dollars a year.

Of such dreams are dreams made of….

We’ve published three issues of the magazine (two re-launch pre-launch issues in 2012, the 88th Anniversary issue in 2013 – all three are available for purchase) and much good fiction – from excerpts to illustrated works to full novels in serialization right on the site.  We’ve also published some tremendous artwork from various artists, including a number of members of the International Association of Astronomical Artists; readings of fantastical poetry, great advice on writing, publishing and the state of the industry, coverage of scientific endeavours, coverage of fandom and the bread-and-butter interviews, reviews and essays.

We’ve published a total of 3,666 posts, an average of 5 point something posts per Day for almost two full years.

What else have we done?  We’ve signed two licensing agreements.  One with a publishing company – Renaissance Ebooks, that is publishing numerous anthologies and reprints of classic works under an Amazing Stories Classics imprint (three currently available for purchase, more coming on a regular schedule) and one with a – I struggle to come up with a catch-all phrase for what they do, lets call them a “nostalgia notions” manufacturer – Open Road Brands – who put iconic images on all manner of things, from embossed metal signs to steel buckets, decorative door knobs, lamps, office supplies and more.  Three reproductions of Amazing Stories Frank R. Paul covers (the August issues from 1926, 1927 and 1928) as embossed metal signs – suitable for display in home or office! – are even now wending their way across an ocean in a container ship.  They’ll end up in a major box store retail chain just in time for the holidays.

Now just think about that for one second.  The iconic logo of Amazing Stories is going to be exposed to hundreds of thousands of shoppers in hundreds of retail outlets across the country.  That’s floor traffic that very few SF/F/H properties, outside of movies and games, ever get.  (And, because we’re kind of circumstantially coordinating the art on our signage, book covers and poster offerings, there’s a good chance that we’ll see a fair amount of cross-over exposure. I say circumstantially because there are only so many covers to draw from and a fairly diverse set of individuals seem to focus on the same handful of images.)

I’m enjoying the licensing aspects of this thing:  having someone put good money down on the table to invest in something you’ve brought to market is a rewarding experience.  And so far, what everyone says about licensing allowing a small company to extend its reach and its brand is proving to be absolutely true.

Of course there is a downside.  I could spend every waking hour of every day of the week chasing after people who are reproducing these covers for posters and whatnots in an unauthorized, unlicensed manner.  (Folks, if you don’t see the Registered Trademark symbol – the ‘R’ in the circle – right next to the name Amazing Stories – on a poster or book cover or t-shirt image, that right there is an infringing product and ought not to be purchased;  the folks selling them are literally taking money out of the pockets of people who are helping to bring you this website and helping to return the magazine to publication.  But please, take no action on your own – except perhaps to drop us a note about what you’ve found.)

Amazing Stories Logo with trademark black 600 dpi
Note the trademark symbol in the upper right.

Speaking of posters:  we’re just about set to release a set of 48 images of Amazing Stories covers in two different sizes, suitable for framing and display.  The gallery is composed of all 46 covers that Frank R. Paul did for Amazing Stories, from April, 1926 thru June, 1929, as well as the cover for the one and only Amazing Stories Annual and a handful of covers for Amazing Stories Quarterly, plus the cover of our inaugural issue (Summer, 2012) and the 88th Anniversary issue cover by Frank Wu (an homage to Paul’s first cover).  These will all be available in our store during the first week of November. Here they are in gallery form.  Click an image to see a larger version.  Prices will be somewhere shy of $35.00 for the larger versions.

What else?  We conducted a promotion that received unprecedented response from the members of Detcon1 and Loncon3 – a free subscription promotion.  (Conventions – we’re more than happy to do that again.  If interested, get in touch.)

Our posts have been linked to from SFSignal, BoingBoing, Slate, the Washington Post, the SF Encyclopedia, Gollancz, Simon & Schuster, and a host of other high-profile websites (usually in a positive way) and we seem to have gained a decent presence on the web for ourselves.

I’ve gotten to be friends with and meet people in the industry that have tremendously enriched my life.  I believe the same is true for the other participants here.  And I’d like to think (a handful of naysayers to the contrary) that I’ve shepherded this project through to the point that the genre community – and particularly the old guard who grew up reading and being inspired by the original magazine – believes that I am doing so with respect, honoring the traditions and with a fresh eye towards merging the old and the new in an acceptable (if not exciting) manner.

Problems?  Oh sure, there’ve been enough;  we ran a couple of posts that garnered universally negative responses (still do based on a read of the inbound links);  we stylishly stepped – hard – on a figurative piece of the male anatomy in dealing with one of those (our comments section has yet to recover.  You readers are the only ones who can help address that.)  I and we have learned a couple of valuable lessons as a result (and have, we hope, take the appropriate actions in response);  we’re not afraid of publishing the controversial topic; we’ve instituted a policy of allowing comments to run regardless (though we will moderate for language and appropriateness – just no blanket cutting off debate) and have re-iterated our statement that the pages of Amazing Stories are open to anyone to express their views – provided they do so in a reasoned, honest, relatively adult, generally respectful and family-friendly manner.  Want to attack some of the sacred cows of the genre?  If you’ve got a case, we’re willing to listen.

What does the future hold?  Lots and lots.  We’re waiting until December to hopefully finalize our third licensing deal, this time with a t-shirt printer.  Expect lots of logowear and way-cool cover art Ts.

Our comic book – A Doctor for the Enterprise (David Gerrold, Troy Boyle) is with David right now.  He’s signing all 500 copies….

We will also hopefully be starting an initiative that will curtail trademark infringement.  We’ve brought a marketing and promotions company on board and our newly minted social networking person will, together with marketing & promotions, hopefully help us raise our profile.  We’d previously been publishing work in French and Spanish (we’re looking for someone to do German, Italian, Greek, etc) and have just opened up a dialogue with Chinese fans (writing in English) that we hope to continue and expand.

More books will be forthcoming from Futures Past Editions;  we’re working on an art gallery initiative with the members of the Association of Science Fiction Artists; we’re also working on a “cover art of the month” program that will be open for submission to artists looking for some exposure.

There are constant, on-going efforts to find an investor (probably on the order of one query per month) and there may very well be a crowd-funding project in the relatively near future.  And this will come as a surprise to everyone:  I’m seriously thinking of publishing an 89th Anniversary issue of the magazine come April 2015.

Finally – thank you all.  Honestly and sincerely – even those of you who have been critical of our efforts (perhaps most of all).   We all greatly appreciate your visits, your comments, recommendations and criticisms.  Without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

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