Art Editor and Pimp?! (A ‘Day In The Life’ Post)

Apr 13th, 2009 | By | Category: CG Blog

It’s the weekend and it’s nearly the middle of the month, so you can bet things are hopping at Crossed Genres HQ. As usual, I find myself juggling tasks. Today I get to work on my favorite task…and my least favorite one.

I really enjoy looking for cover artists. I would search Deviant Art and Livejournal and Google Images for days on end if I had the time. As it is, I give myself a fairly narrow window – one weekend, typically about six weeks in advance of the deadline – to decide which artists to invite and which to save for another time. I emailed an artist today who is probably too busy right now to work with us, but I tend to operate with the rule in mind that ‘it can’t hurt to try.’ I’ve been rewarded a few times already for taking that particular risk. As it turns out, artists seem to really like the concept behind Crossed Genres. I’m not surprised. (I have just as much fun searching for non-fiction contributors, by the way, but today I went hunting for artists.)

Unfortunately, keeping the magazine alive isn’t all about luring talented contributors. Talent doesn’t sell itself, after all. Advertising; it’s one of those necessary evils. It helps that so far all our content is free online. People like free. It also helps that we don’t charge much for the formats we sell—dead tree, PDF, Kindle, audio. People like a bargain. But the trick is in the outreach. Because I am the sort of person who loathes being advertised to indiscriminately, I always try to pimp Crossed Genres only in places it will be well received. (Yes, I’d rather call it ‘pimping’ than advertising; humor is my coping mechanism.) We like to reach people at SFF conventions, in online communities and writers’ groups, etc. I’ve even spread the word among my MMORPG friends, with their consent. Naturally, my favorite kind of advertising is the kind that other people do for me; word of mouth. It’s also the most effective way to promote any business, so please feel free to pimp CG to your friends and neighbors.

Every month is different, too. Every time we work with a new genre, I find that there are new places to look for artists and different places to pimp the magazine. This means that there is always opportunity for Crossed Genres to grow and reach new readers, but it also means that much of my work starts from scratch every month. I wouldn’t promote the release of our Humor issue in an exclusively Crime Fiction-oriented Livejournal community, for example, so each month I first have to locate the new best places to talk about CG. Then I have to compose one ad to draw new contributions in one genre for the next issue, and write another ad to attract genre-appropriate customers to the current issue. And then there are the gentle reminders that I send out during the month to some of the places I’ve pimped before to maintain the flow of return visitors to the website.

Fortunately, I don’t have to finish all of that in one day. Today I was focused. I emailed artists for biographical information, progress on cover art, and sent one invitation to do a future cover. Then I put out a call for submissions to the SFF-writing Livejournal demographic, and re-wrote the comprehensive ad that I use in places that don’t require such a light touch (craigslist, etc.). Next on my list are the Urban SFF writers, SFF Humor fans, and artists who are very good with Anthropomorphs. Good times.

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  1. Have you tried to approach the big Fantasy review blogs like Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist or Fantasy Book Critic? They’re open towards all sorts of sub- and crossgenres and have a pretty large readership. Including published and aspiring writers and probably a few artists as well.

    When the Alternate History gets on the plate, tell me. I may be able to come up with a suggestion or two where to pimp that one, besides my own blog. 🙂

  2. Ooh, thanks for your suggestions. I’ll add them to my list.

    Alternate history buff, eh? Can you recommend any non-Western alternate history stories? We’re expecting to get a lot of subs based on American and European events, but when the time comes, we’d like to provide a few examples reminding our contributors that there’s a whole lot of world history out there to draw from. 🙂

  3. More a history buff who also likes alternate approaches sometimes. 🙂

    My online friends who write alternate history use Western themes for the most (though some, like the Anglo-Saxons, are somewhat exotic) and the one lady who played with stories set in an alternate Japenase world hasn’t posted anything writing-related for a long time. Which is a pity because her stuff is pretty good.

    Here’s an interesting story despite the Western theme because of the unusual combination of historical subtext and steampunk. I can point Danny towards the magazine; maybe he has something that would fit.

    I don’t know if Scott Oden has the time to write an story or a non fiction essay, but his last novel, currently with his agent, is an alternate Crusade setting, and I had some discussions with him about the alternate approach since we both come from the historical fiction angle and have to deal with ideas that are some version of Alternate History, Historical Fantasy or whatever. Perhaps he might be interested in contributing to your magazine.

    Should I get bitten by an alternate plotbunny in short story form, it would be a Western setting as well, I admit. I just know most about the Romans and the Middle Ages. 🙂

    Sword and Sorcery writers and essayists often have a soft spot for Alternate History as well thanks to the tradition of Harold Lamd and RE Howard. The contributors to The Cimmerian could be another candidate for an essay. Btw, some of Harold Lamb’s stories feature non-Western cultures; in case they are not too outdated (not to me, lol, but I still like books like Ivanhoe).

  4. I’ll have to follow-up on those leads tomorrow. Tonight sort of got away from me.

    Of course I don’t have anything against Western alt-histories – I’m from the Wild West, after all – but it’s just a matter of predicting the future and trying to plan for the ‘problems’ we’re likely to have that month.

    One of the fun things about Crossed Genres is that we get submissions from all around the world. Given that, I think it would be a bit of a shame if we aren’t sent at least a few Middle Eastern, Asian or African alternate histories, but at least I have an idea of what we’re likely to get automatically. That lets me know that if I want a wider variety, I’ll have to reach a little farther than I would normally have to.

    I tend to think of this sort of ‘problem’ as an opportunity for growth. 🙂

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