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Thursday, January 17, 2013

2012: The Year in Review (Part 2)

Public Service Announcement: The long delay between Part 1 and today's post was not an intentional pause for dramatic purposes. This was a "Holy Cow! This new strain of flu is as bad as they say it is!" pause. Take the public health warnings seriously, folks. Even I get sick from time to time, but it's been years since a virus knocked me on my backside for five days straight.

Continuing from Part 1, then:

What We Did Not Accomplish in 2012

While we accomplished a lot in 2012, when measured against our goals, what we did not accomplish is instantly obvious: we published about half as much fiction as we'd originally planned to publish in 2012. Why?

The answer requires a brief detour into history, a certain amount of whining, and the presentation of excuses. So put on your wellies, stand by for venting, and here we go.

From Pre-History to Modern Times

I've been involved in various electronic and small-press publishing experiments and pilot projects since the mid-1990s. About a decade ago I even pulled together a group of prospective investors with the intention of buying and revitalizing one of the famous old pulp magazines that had fallen on hard times. After studying the issue thoroughly, though, we concluded that trying to reanimate Hugo Gernsback's corpse one more time would be a great way to waste a lot of money, but in the end we'd still own a dead magazine.

So we broke up the band and went our separate ways.

A few years later, advances in technology made the idea worth reconsidering. When we founded Rampant Loon Press and incorporated Rampant Loon Media LLC it was with the understanding that we were going to take several years to study the issues, to learn, experiment, and produce test-bed projects and prototypes, and to grow the business slowly. Our original intention was that we would not have this company fully up and running until about five years from now, when I'd be ready to begin thinking about retiring from my current career and taking up running Rampant Loon Press full-time.

Similarly, when we first launched STUPEFYING STORIES, it was envisioned as a quarterly print publication, which we would take a few years to experiment with and fine-tune until we got it right.

Unfortunately, literally between the day we signed off on the printer's proofs for the first prototype and the day the bindery delivered the finished copies, my wife and primary business partner was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. This immediately put all our plans on hold for more than a year, as she went through surgery, chemotherapy, the discovery of four more secondary tumors that proved inoperable, and subsequent months of radiation treatment.

Introducing STUPEFYING STORIES: Take Two

When we re-launched STUPEFYING STORIES in 2011, it was with a new vision, inspired largely by all the time my wife spent in clinics and doctor's waiting rooms, reading books and magazines on her Kindle. This time out STUPEFYING STORIES would be a monthly direct-to-ebook-only publication, with all the money we'd previously spent on printing instead going to the people who actually wrote the stories we were publishing.

We had no idea just how popular this vision would prove to be.

Since our re-launch in October 2011, STUPEFYING STORIES has been evolving at a breakneck pace. The flow of incoming submissions jumped exponentially in a matter of weeks, and the book itself is now averaging 135% of the size of the first editions. For the past year we've been on a high-speed rocket-sled ride without any rails, discovering what works, what doesn't, what we didn't know that we didn't know, and what "everyone knows is true" that just ain't so. Many of the missteps, mistakes, and overreaches we made in 2012 can be attributed directly to our desire to make up for lost time, our sense that we didn't have much more time to waste, and our attempts to compress what originally was planned to be a seven-year development cycle into three years. We had a nasty scare in September, when one of my wife's follow-up tests returned a disturbing result, but after further diagnostic work it was declared to be a false alarm.

Four weeks ago, we celebrated one year of remission. Now it's time to step back, take a deep breath, and reassess our plans. be continued...


Rebecca Schwarz said...

Thank you for the update. As someone who submits to many semi-pro markets (including yours), I really enjoy hearing a little about what goes on on the other side of the fence.

Judith said...

Yes, thanks. It's interesting to find out what happens once you hit the send button.

Roy C. Booth said...