Since late May, in between chasing freelance gigs and keeping my financial head above water, I’ve been building something. Storyworlds Magazine is a webzine that “publishes stand-alone fiction set in an author’s larger storyworld, as well as art evoking worlds extending beyond the edges of the image, into the imagination.” Storyworlds Magazine is a subscription-supported paying market via a royalty sharing and affiliate model that might be the first of its kind. And the Storyworlds Magazine submissions desk is open!
The Big Ideas Behind Storyworld Magazine*
Storyworlds Magazine is the offspring of a creative conviction and a storytelling passion.
The Creator’s Responsibility
A few months back, I wrote about what I assert are the six essentials for fiction writers. Number five on that list is Publication / Marketing.
After more than a quarter century of releasing music, zines and other creative endeavors according to the DIY ethic both online and off — especially as widespread acceptance of disintermediation and neo-patronage has spread in the last decade — I’m convinced of two things:
- Creators have a responsibility to reach the largest, best audience possible for their work
- It is essential to develop a direct relationship between creator and audience that is simultaneously one-to-one and one-to-many
It’s just not enough to create something and leave it to others to promote and market it. Indeed, writers, especially, are expected to promote their own work. Publishers either don’t have, or won’t dedicate, the budget, and besides, there are long-term career benefits to a writer who embraces this essential responsibility.
For as long as I can remember — certainly as long as I’ve been consuming narrative media — I’ve loved the concept of the storyworld.
What’s a storyworld? Here’s how I define it at Storyworlds Magazine:
A storyworld is a common milieu, setting, or universe for multiple works of narrative fiction. Often, the distinct works set in a storyworld tell a larger, interconnected story, but the threads between each piece may be slender indeed. Sometimes, the only commonality between works is the storyworld itself.
Examples are easy to find in every medium and genre:
- The Marvel and DC comics universes
- The New York of Archie Bunker, Maude Findlay, George Jefferson, and Florida Evans
- Stephen King’s Castle Rock, Maine
- Philip Jose Farmer’s Wold Newton universe
- Larry Niven’s Known Space
- Jan Karon’s Mitford
- Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City
- Robert Lynn Aspin’s Thieves World
- The shared universe of “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful”
I believe one of the most exciting opportunities for storytellers today is the development of their own storyworlds to drive their careers and personal franchises.
Put It All Together: Storyworlds Magazine
Storyworlds Magazine combines these concepts to present short fiction set in the author’s established storyworld, from creators who possess an demonstrable online presence and the willingness to promote their own work.
Reading issues of Storyworlds Magazine requires a monthly subscription (planned at $2.97 per month). Once I have six months of inventory, I’ll roll out a bi-annual subscription rate; once I have twelve months, the annual subscription rate will be introduced. Each month, 50% of revenue will be used to pay authors and artists according to something I’m calling the Contributor Collaborative Compensation Model, which you can read about on the Storyworlds Magazine About page.
The basic idea behind the Contributor Collaborative Compensation Model: I expect creators to support their creations through promotion to their audiences, and the compensation model addresses that editorial philosophy directly.
Authors, Artists And Readers: Find Out More About Storyworlds Magazine
I’m currently vetting fiction and art submissions for the first few issues. If you’re an author or artist who fits the Storyworlds Magazine submission guidelines, I encourage you to submit something before August 31, 2012 in order to be eligible for acceptance in the first issues.
Whether you’re a potential reader or contributor, I hope you’ll sign up to the announcement mailing list for updates as Storyworlds Magazine gets closer and closer to its first issue.
What Do You Think About Storyworlds Magazine?
Storyworlds Magazine is already generating some passionate discussion among writers and readers. I’d love to hear what you think about this authorpreneurial endeavor… please leave a comment, and don’t hesitate to share this with folks you think might be interested in Storyworlds Magazine!
* Apologies / acknowledgement to John Scalzi