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Signs of Death in the Independent Press.

The first bit of news after the Easter break is that Shadowed Realms is shutting down. If you've never heard of the site, it was an ezine dedicated to flash fiction, and run by Angela Challis and Shane J Cummings, as editor and designer and sometimes editor, respectively. A while back I had a story in it, but in what can only be described as a difference of opinion, I stopped working with them (and their publishing company, Brimstone Press) in any capacity. Publishing is much like any other job, really, and an author can make choices about who she/he wishes to work with, just as an editor can. It's no big deal, but just so you're up on my relationship with them, which is that I don't have one. Still, that's neither here nor there: a market closing down has never been the sign for celebration, and a few people had their five minutes of fame with it, including me, so on that score, it's a shame to see it go.

I wouldn't, however, say that Shadowed Realms' death was surprising. Speaking broadly, there are a lot of signs in the independent press that you can watch for, and which speak of the slowly rising corpse of a project, or a publisher. There's a lack of critical success. A lack of popular success. A fall in issue regularity, or an inability to hit the deadlines proposed by huge amounts of time (most independents are behind a little). Then there's the long response times to contributors. Closing to submissions out of season. Editors not replying to email where they once did. The editor/publisher moving on to other projects. A switch in focus from print to media or online. Public conversations about money. The list goes on. Get enough of these coming out of an independent publisher, and I reckon you might as well start picking out a pretty plot, though the actual announcement of death can take a long time coming. I, personally, figured that Shadowed Realms had another year in it, but I guess my prophetic powers aren't always right--and to be honest, it's not that much of a death. Brimstone still exists. A lot of publishers have gone completely into the ground.

At any rate, I mentioned this at first on a comment on Martin Livings' (martinlivings) blog, but he has now locked the entry so that no one can leave comments, the comment has been deleted. Whatever. I have my own blog and can talk about it here, and deleted commentary always gets me thinking a bit more. I figure if people know of any other signs of Independent Death, they should drop a comment. Get enough and I'll do a funny checklist.

Comments

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(Deleted comment)
benpeek
Apr. 11th, 2007 01:17 am (UTC)
that's okay, man. i altered my post--now i just think you should have left it as a commenting post for the fun :)
(Deleted comment)
benpeek
Apr. 11th, 2007 01:49 am (UTC)
conversation is good, dude. see all the people than come here to talk? all spanky.
angriest
Apr. 11th, 2007 12:56 am (UTC)
I think a good thing about the closure of Shadowed Realms is that it sounds like Angela and Shane are moving onto bigger and better things, which is nice.

I don't think closing submissions for a period is necessarily a sign of impending small press death - sometimes a small press mag can get inundated and needs to close the doors for a few months just to catch up.

The question is: who's going to be first to develop a website to replace Shadowed Realms?
(Deleted comment)
lyzbeth
Apr. 11th, 2007 01:18 am (UTC)
LOL! No you're not joking. We all know that was just a post so people could say "Yeah! That sounds like a great idea! Go for it Martin!"
:)
angriest
Apr. 11th, 2007 01:28 am (UTC)
Yaay!!! Horror day four times a year!!
shrydar
Apr. 11th, 2007 09:03 am (UTC)
Yeah! That sounds like a great idea! Go for it Martin!

I saved the last issue as a warchive...
azhure
Apr. 11th, 2007 11:45 am (UTC)
Ha! I bet you thought I wouldn't see this!

And I actually think it's a good idea.
benpeek
Apr. 11th, 2007 01:18 am (UTC)
you know what they're moving on too?

by itself, the closing of subs isn't, but youput it with a few other things, and you close to subs regularly, and you take ages to respond, then yeah.
angriest
Apr. 11th, 2007 01:23 am (UTC)
I have no idea what Shane and Angela are moving onto, I've just heard whisperings around the place that there are indeed projects in the works.
punkrocker1991
Apr. 11th, 2007 01:24 am (UTC)
It is very difficult to maintain enthusiasm and momentum for a project that is a constant drain on funds and time -- and you should remember that Shadowed Realms was paying a decent rate with little income. That they did this for so long is to be commended.
angriest
Apr. 11th, 2007 01:28 am (UTC)
Absolutely!
benpeek
Apr. 11th, 2007 01:49 am (UTC)
the way it is with all independent press, really.
strangedave
Apr. 11th, 2007 01:32 am (UTC)
But Ben, are you one of the Good Guys?
benpeek
Apr. 11th, 2007 01:48 am (UTC)
oh, i have a suspicion that i'm one of the cancers he's talking about, and hardly a good guy in shane's world. perhaps i'm the cancer--but who knows. there could be others.

from what i understand, a bit was said about me at swancon, inspired, no doubt, by the joke photo. it's all second hand info, so i've no idea really. there's very little i can do about it, too, i imagine--and outside trying to bait robin pen into gossiping with cat for a laugh, i was pretty much removed from it all.

i dunno. it's a shame that, if shane is talking about me there, that's how he feels. i know there are some people who do think i'm a good guy, despite what others reckon, and hype aside, i do what a lot of people don't do, and that's interact with the products created by this scene. it doesn't escape my notice that for it i get called various things, and if the cancer is me, then what can i do? you've got your fans, you've got the people who dislike you.

from what i hear, some kind of reality check in relation to shane and angela regarding me is probably required. i'm just a guy. my opinion and what i do has no more weight than anyone else--and given that i know that shane reads this blog daily, he might want to take that into account, and stop reading.
strangedave
Apr. 11th, 2007 04:45 am (UTC)
Ah, a serious reply to what was intended as frivolous tease.

I sympathise with your position. I very much think that supporting the scene as a whole doesn't mean unquestioning supporting everything it produces, and sometimes honest negative feedback can more valuable. (though I think the markets that publish promising writers who are not yet at a consistent professional standard also can perform a valuable service - sometimes it is about the warm fuzzies, the community, and fun)

But also, the scene is a community too, and a community is built of people not just blog voices. People are not their public voice, but it can be easily to confuse the two and take it all too personally - particularly with you, as you deliberately maintain more personal distance, or at least are much less interested in interacting with the scene as a person rather than as a public voice. Its important to separate the work from the person and treat it on its merits, because thats honest criticism is how the work grows, and that means if the scene is also a community, people have to be able to express their opinions without it being taken too personally - and to grow the scene, which depends on the community as well as just the quality of the work, means letting people state their opinions without always having to worry about whether negative opinions will turn into negative personal interaction.
benpeek
Apr. 11th, 2007 05:14 am (UTC)

well, i suspect this stuff with me and others is just going to continue, and that doesn't really phase me; but when some dude is calling you a cancer... i dunno, man, maybe a little pause and a suggestion to get some reality is what is needed, rather than me making a funny blog post about it. the dude seems generally cut up about something and, whatever that is, i reckon if i'm at the centre of it--or even part of it--shane and angela need to rethink just who i am.

for me, this scene is largely made up of work--i'm happy with my distance from it, which as you point out, does make things more difficult with people in relation to me. but frankly, i think the community side of this scene has always been both its boon and its downfall.
lyzbeth
Apr. 11th, 2007 10:37 am (UTC)
Of course you were talked about. We'd run out of others by that stage! ;p
robinpen
Apr. 12th, 2007 04:20 pm (UTC)
"bait robin pen"

Hey, how did I get into this story?

I've been self banished for a while. Only popped my head in to say hi.
benpeek
Apr. 12th, 2007 11:32 pm (UTC)
don't worry, man, you're not involved.
robinpen
Apr. 13th, 2007 12:00 am (UTC)
Involved? In involved in what? Conspiracy? What conspiracy? I'm not involved in any conspiracy. Am I? What conspiracy am I involved in? Oh my god! What have I got myself into. I'm involved in a conspiracy.

Actually, everyone keeps telling me I'm not involved.

I ask, is that such a bad thing?

You're bad Mr Peek. Bad, bad Mr Peek.
benpeek
Apr. 13th, 2007 12:05 am (UTC)
yeah, i am, apparently. i don't know how i get such a reputation, what with my kindness to small children and so on.

if it makes you feel better though, robin, i'm sure i can get you caught up in it. i see on the link provided by dave cake that kathryn is calling strahan out--you could always be part of that :)
(Anonymous)
Apr. 13th, 2007 01:42 am (UTC)
Oh, how wise of her.
benpeek
Apr. 13th, 2007 01:51 am (UTC)
the scene is changing these days, man. less people are willing to sit round for the same old, y'know?
robinpen
Apr. 13th, 2007 05:25 am (UTC)
Indeed, I did. But I felt tainted.
benpeek
Apr. 13th, 2007 05:49 am (UTC)
don't worry, man. your silver armour will buff right up, and you can go back to protecting innocents :)
cassiphone
Apr. 11th, 2007 05:36 am (UTC)
Don't forget... independent publisher has a baby, moves house, gets a job, loses a job...
benpeek
Apr. 11th, 2007 07:51 am (UTC)
oh, yeah. i forgot all about the baby side of things.
cassiphone
Apr. 11th, 2007 11:21 am (UTC)
It does tend to distract one from real life...
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