Podcasts and pay rises

By Niall Harrison

Well, that was exciting!

The fund drive is perhaps the most stressful time to be working on Strange Horizons. Every year, there is that question—will we reach our goal? Will we get to keep publishing the magazine? The rocket can look very empty at the start.

And yet it's also the most humbling time, because it's the time when hundreds of readers very tangibly demonstrate their faith in us. I say this every year, but: thank you. We don't take your support for granted, and it's hugely rewarding to see it renewed in such emphatic fashion.

This year, you could argue that we made life more difficult for ourselves by setting some extension goals. Our primary goal, as it was last year, was $8,000: that was the amount we needed to raise to continue Strange Horizons in its current form. But we also said that we wanted to raise our pay rates for poems and reviews—which have been the same for many years—and that we wanted to produce weekly podcasts of our stories. To achieve all of those goals, we were looking to raise $11,000, which is a higher target than the fund drive has ever had before.

But you donated more than last year, and faster—helped, I dare say, by the incentive of our bonus issue, featuring stories by Ken Liu and Ellen Klages, poems by Michele Bannister and Mat Joiner, and an essay by Daniel M. Kimmel. In fact, we reached $8,000 on Saturday night, and by the close of the fund drive on Sunday night, we'd passed $9,000, meaning that we had a pay rise for our poets, and an extra few hundred towards our next goal. That by itself was a great result, making this one of our most successful fund drives.

And then my inbox pinged one last time, and it turned out that an extremely generous donor had sent in enough money to take us right to the top of our goals. Along with a few other straggling donations, we ended up with a final total of $11,220.50. That big donor wishes to remain anonymous, but all of us at Strange Horizons are deeply grateful to them.

So, let's recap what this means for Strange Horizons. As of 1 January, 2013, here's what will happen:

  • Our standard pay rate for a poem will rise to $30
  • Our standard pay rate for a review will rise to $30
  • We will begin releasing podcasts of that week's fiction. To reflect the fact that we will be paying for audio rights, our pay rate for fiction will rise to 8c/word.

On that last point, I'm delighted to be able to announce that Anaea Lay is joining Strange Horizons as our first Podcast Editor—it was in fact Anaea's enthusiasm for the idea that led to us including podcasts in our fund drive plans this year, and I have no doubt that she will do a wonderful job.

One final note: throughout the fund drive, we had a steady stream of queries about ebooks. Fear not, we definitely have plans in that direction. They will probably be free, rather than paid subscription, since we don't want to move away from the donor model; and they probably won't happen for a little while yet, there are too many other things we need to do to the website first. But we will get there. In the meantime, however, one reader has created a Calibre recipe for creating ebooks of each week's issue. This isn't an official SH ebook, and we're not responsible for maintaining it, but it might help some of you out. And, like the fund drive, it's a reminder of how our readers support us. Thanks again, and enjoy the next year of the magazine.


Niall Harrison is Editor-in-Chief of Strange Horizons.

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