The most unpleasant part of running an SF/F magazine

Nov 19th, 2009 | By | Category: CG Blog

When I started writing this blog, it was with the intent of showing what goes into the production of a small science fiction & fantasy magazine. Obviously we don’t have a lock on the only way to do things, but I think the blog has been pretty successful in revealing the day-to-day operations, the long-term planning, and the remarkably large amount of work that it takes to stay on time and on track.

However, one thing I haven’t talked about practically at all is the financial side of it. That’s been intentional, as we never wanted to be the sort of business that pesters and annoys our readers while begging for money. We hate it when it’s done to us, so we don’t want to do it to you.

But you can’t really know what it really is to do what we’re doing without hearing some of the rather scary numbers. Now that we’re a good year into CG, we’ve got plenty of numbers to talk about.

First, a bit of context, in the form of traffic numbers. Either today or tomorrow, we’re going to surpass 140,000 pageviews since the day we released issue 1. More than 51,000 unique visitors have checked out our website. That is absolutely astounding; when we started CG, we set what we considered a very optimistic goal of 80,000 pageviews in our first year. to surpass our ambitious goal by 75% is amazing. Even better, people who visit the site are viewing an average of over 2.7 pages per visit, which is again significantly better than we expected.

Sadly, the financial numbers are far less pleasant. Some examples:

  • Despite all the attention and praise it’s gotten, Issue 12 hasn’t quite reached 50 copies sold, of all formats combined.
  • Issue 12 overall has not even made back half of what we spent on it.
  • Our anthology has only gotten 10% of the preorders necessary for us to break even.

And by far the worst one:

  • For the calendar year 2009 (so far), we have a net loss of over $1,500 USD.

That is a lot of money to come directly out of the pockets of two working-class stiffs who are also raising a 3-year-old child. Especially when you consider that Kay and I together put in a minimum of 40 hours per week on Crossed Genres, and sometimes far more. (I feel I should point out that we knew going into this that we were going to lose money, at least for the first year. We didn’t think it would be that much, though.)

Kay and I haven’t gotten paid a cent from CG. We’ve lost over 150,000 cents, in fact (and that’s not counting the money we spent between September and December 2008). As Kay pointed out in her own post earlier today, we’ve made back about 1/3 of the money we’ve put in… and as our peer kaolin fire of GUD magazine commented, that’s probably a bit better than GUD has done.

Small science fiction/fantasy magazines do not make money. Heck, even the bigger ones have been losing subscriptions for years now. And for little mags like CG, GUD, M-Brane SF, etc. that don’t have anything near that level of resources, it’s a thousand times harder.

The summation of this post is, as Kay said: “Crossed Genres is in trouble. It’s not ‘end of the world’ trouble, but it’s building to that.” With the expenses of the anthology coming up, plus the expense involved in serializing a novel in the Subscribers Area (possible more than one), the financial future of CG looks bad. It’s safe to say that, with the same level of revenue, we probably won’t survive our second year.

In Kay’s post, she asks for people to play a version of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” to help spread word about CG. Please read her post, and then maybe write up a quick blog post or fire off a tweet.

And please, consider spending just 9 bucks (plus shipping)to preorder the anthology; get a copy of the book, a free 1-year digital subscription, digital copies of the magazine, and be entered to win a free copy of the anthology for your local library. All that for nine bucks. And then, see if you can convince someone else to get one too. Keep us around a while longer.

We love running Crossed Genres, and we want to do it for years to come. We don’t care about making money – we just want to produce a great magazine, and more, and not drive ourselves to the poorhouse while we’re doing it.

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  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by crossedgenres: New blog post: The most unpleasant part of running an SF/F magazine

  2. It doesn’t seem to me you want to sell the preorder to me. You have a *very* limited list of countries you seem to allow in addresses.

  3. Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho, the program which runs the store has preset which countries are available to ship to. If you tell me where you’d like to order the anthology, I can manually add that country.

  4. Finland.

  5. […] magazine. Even so the magazine is currently down $1500 on the year to date. Bart Lieb explains more here, and Kay Holt asks for help with PR […]

  6. Okay, Finland should be on the list now. If you have any more problems please let me know (feel free to email

  7. […] Kay made her post about our need, and I followed up with my post about our finances, an amazing number of people have responded. Dozens of people have posted about […]

  8. […] because of Crossed Genres. As some of you may recall, just slightly under a year ago I posted about the most unpleasant part of running an SFF magazine. I haven’t pulled the numbers together yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the $1500 […]

  9. […] year at this time, when we posted about the most unpleasant part of running an SFF magazine, we had a net loss for 2009 of over $1500. At that point, all we had to worry about were the issues […]

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