Support Stupefying Stories

Okay, it’s time for us to have a serious conversation about money. To paraphrase the old aerospace industry adage Tom Wolfe made famous when he gave the line to Gus Grissom in The Right Stuff: “No bucks, no Buck Rogers.”

That’s right. That’s what makes Stupefying Stories fly. Funding.

When we first launched Stupefying Stories and Rampant Loon Press, it was with a small nest-egg and the idea that it would be self-funding. We believed we would be able to bootstrap this new magazine and publishing company from the ground up simply by increasing sales, and for the first few years, that worked. We had some original novels and several issues of the magazine that moved thousands of copies each, and we plowed every penny we made back into publishing more stories and paying our authors and artists more.

Then my wife’s cancer hit, and if you’ve been following us, you know how that story ended.


Now it’s 2024, and here we are, emerging from hibernation after a very long winter and blinking in astonishment at how much the publishing landscape has changed while we were asleep. The technology available to small-press publishers has taken enormous leaps forward. We no longer need to handcraft our e-books with stone knives, bear skins, and XHTML. When I compare our first POD paperbacks to our latest hardcover and paperback releases, I am quite pleased. I would be happy to put our latest books up against any new releases from the big New York publishers, both in terms of the quality of the stories inside the covers and the physical qualities of the books themselves.

But while the technology available to us continues to improve, and the market for non-fiction books and full-length novels took a significant jump during the pandemic, the market for short fiction looks like it’s been looted, burned-out, and bombed to bouncing rubble. It’s easier than ever to publish short fiction, but harder than ever to get anyone to notice. A lot of the small-press publishers we knew and respected have called it quits and gone off to do something else. There are days I think the only people reading short fiction now are those who to hope to write and sell it.

Hmm. If people aren’t reading short fiction, they’re not buying the magazines and anthologies that publish it. If they’re not buying magazines… Well, there goes the idea of bootstrapping the re-launch of Stupefying Stories through increased sales—at least, not without spending ungodly amounts of money on advertising.

This goes against my grain. The entire point of Stupefying Stories was to use the attention people seem to want to pay to me, because of what I did in the 1980s and 1990s, to get them to pay attention to newer and younger writers who are writing great new stories now, and then to coach and encourage those same younger writers to become the big-name writers of tomorrow. From the start we made a commitment to spending more on the authors who write the stories we publish than we’d spend on promotions, advertising, marketing, overhead, or any of those other things that are so vital to growing a publishing business, but don’t put money directly into the pockets of the people who create the content being published.

Hmm again. Interesting dilemma. Chicken or egg? Go big or go home? Approach this problem thoughtfully or continue to rattle off shopworn clichés and fatuous dualities?


This is where you come into the story.

I have played the non-profit game before. I’ve been on the Boards of Directors of several 501(c) corporations. Right now, we’re essentially in the first stage of the re-launch of Stupefying Stories, and the obvious thing for us to do is to go after a few very well-heeled donors and corporate sponsors, to cajole them into donating to the Support Stupefying Stories fund, so that we can expand our offerings on the web and secure the funding for future issues. In fact, I have already received inquiries from people who want to do just that, and have received some remarkable offers.

But this is not what I want.

If the point of Stupefying Stories is to get a lot of people to pay attention to the writers we’re publishing, then this works better if we have a lot of people who have a vested interest in our success. 

This is why I’m asking you to support Stupefying Stories. I would rather have a hundred people chipping in $5 a month to support what we’re doing than have one person who is contributing $1,000. It’s the difference between having Stupefying Stories reflect a community’s sense of what makes for good fiction versus having it reflect the tastes of a few very affluent donors. What I want is to have a hundred goodwill ambassadors out there telling their friends, “Hey, you should read this! They’re publishing good stuff!”

At our current burn rate, we spend about $500 monthly just to keep SHOWCASE going. (Surely SHOWCASE alone is worth $5 a month to you, isn’t it?) Each issue of Stupefying Stories magazine costs us about $1,000 to produce. (It should cost more, but we woefully underpay our authors and everyone working behind the scenes is a volunteer, working for free.) If we can get just one hundred people to commit to chipping in $5 monthly—or fifty people to commit to $10 monthly, etc., etc., you can do the math—we will be able to fund SHOWCASE indefinitely, and thank you very much for making that possible. 

If we can get three hundred people to commit to contributing $5 monthly, then we can fund both SHOWCASE and the magazine indefinitely, and can focus on growing the readership for both. 

I have been told it’s also a good idea to have a “stretch” goal, so here it is: if we can raise more than $1,500 monthly, it will go straight to raising our word rate and paying our authors more. As I’ve said before, while we’re in the first stage of the relaunch now, the ultimate goal remains what it always has been: to grow Stupefying Stories to the point where it becomes a professional magazine that pays its authors “pro” word rates and funds itself through sales of books and magazines. 

That’s the vision. But right now, it all begins with you, and whether you choose to click this DONATE link.

Thank you for reading this, and while you’re thinking about it, you might also want to consider following us on Twitter or friending us on Facebook, via either the Stupefying Stories fb page or my personal page.

And remember, while likes are nice, Shares and Retweets boost the signal. If you like what you’re reading here, tell your friends about us! Share the links!


Bruce Bethke
Editor, Publisher, and Executive Cat-Herder in Chief
Stupefying Stories | A Rampant Loon Press Publication

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