When I asked [Nick] Mamatas, who reads submissions for Clarkesworld, about the probability of ezines becoming profitable, he gave a sobering reply. “I think it’s important to note that most fiction magazines in the print world are either university-backed non-profits, labors of love, or the least successful of a cross-subsidized bundle of properties that are kept around because fiction copy is much cheaper than non-fiction copy,” he said. “In the periodical trade in general, churn is also very high. Magazines come and go all the time, regardless of their subject, market, or demographic. The magazine business is ultimately the business of selling people disposable content. The challenge of the ezine isn’t all that much different than the challenge of any other magazine, except that if anyone knew what the “best bet” was, they likely wouldn’t try it out on SF ezines when they could launch another massive slick with 75% ad pages.”
To underscore this point, let me leave you with a telling figure. Ralan.com is a website that tracks short fiction markets for writers, mainly in the speculative fiction genre. In a section of Ralan called “dead markets,” it lists all the genre magazines that have folded and ceased publication over the last few years. Many, if not most, of those listed are genre ezines.
The number of dead markets listed?
I feel cynical today, obviously.