We are a multigenre fiction magazine. We published three issues last year, each funded by its own Kickstarter. That wasn’t really a sustainable way to make a magazine, and we want to create more certainty for our readers and for the magazine.
So we came up with a new plan for Year Two: a monthly subscription website and ebook (epub and mobi). Each issue in Year Two will have two pieces of flash fiction (1,000 words or less), one short story, and one of 12 episodes of a serial fiction experiment by Chuck Wendig. Each issue will also have artwork by Galen Dara. We plan to begin the publishing the monthly magazine on July 1.
The website is being rethought by Pablo Defendini and will be brand new. It is being designed responsively, which means it will adjust to display an optimum reading experience on screens of any size, from smartphones up through giant monitors. We are aiming to provide a clean, simple way to read our stories without any clutter or distractions, just the words and the artwork.
Fireside will also open to submissions for flash fiction on March 15 if this Kickstarter is successful. (More on this further down the page.)
We have two goals. The first is to find and publish good storytelling. We think good stories come from all genres, and so Fireside looks for them everywhere.
I think Neil Gaiman captured the essence of this idea in the “Stories” anthology, which he edited with and Al Sarrantonio and which is one of the inspirations for Fireside. In the introduction, Gaiman wrote about what he’d put on the wall of a library if he had the chance:
I'm not sure I'd put a quote up, if it was me, and I had a library wall to deface. I think I'd just remind people of the power of stories, of why they exist in the first place. I'd put up the four words that anyone telling a story wants to hear. The ones that show it's working, and that pages will be turned:
"... and then what happened?"
Our second goal is to pay our writers and other contributors well, because we think people should be able to make a living at being creative. Fireside pays 12.5 cents a word, well above the 5 cents a word that is considered a professional rate for short stories. That translates to $500 for a 4,000-word story, which we think is a fair rate considering the amount of time writers put into writing and revising their work.
Here is everyone who is working on Year Two. Their website and Twitter info is below, and we will be posting Q&A's with them throughout the campaign:
Short stories by :
M. Bennardo | mbennardo.com | @mbennardo | Q&A
Jennifer Campbell-Hicks | jennifercampbellhicks.blogspot.com | Q&A
Karina Cooper | karinacooper.com | @karinacooper | Q&A
Jonas David | jonas-david.com | @thejonasdavid | Q&A
Delilah S. Dawson | delilahsdawson.com | @DelilahSDawson | Q&A
A.E. Decker | smalltriumphs.com | Q&A
Steven J. Dines | stevenjdines.com
Adam P. Knave | adampknave.com | @adampknave | Q&A
Ken Liu | kenliu.name | @kyliu99 | Q&A
James McGee | @MrJamesMcGee | Q&A
Jason Ridler | jridler.com | @JayRidler | Q&A
Lilith Saintcrow | lilithsaintcrow.com | @lilithsaintcrow | Q&A
We already have eight of our short stories in, and they cover a wide array of genres. They are also awesome.
Design: Over the past few years (and accelerating rapidly over the last year in particular), we've seen a welcome shift in editorial design for the web: a focus on simplicity; on placing the needs of the reader above all; on clean layouts that let text breathe and get out of a reader's way. In short, a return to first principles with regard to editorial design, but as applied to the web instead of print. Much of the thinking around these concepts is encapsulated in Craig Mod's fantastic essay, Sub-Compact Publishing, and we've seen quite a few examples of this new/old approach pop up over the past year or so: The Magazine, Medium, the Svbtle network, and of late (but about as far removed from "least" as you can get), the venerable A List Apart.
This melds perfectly with our goals at Fireside: respect for the reader goes hand-in-hand with respect for our creators.
With all that in mind, we're designing a website for Fireside subscribers that will focus on the important stuff, and leave off the not-so-important stuff. A gorgeous, yet understated story page, with large, widescreen illustrations on the desktop and tablets, and a compact, efficient layout on your phone. Devoid of chrome or other distracting bits of navigation — only the stuff you need to get in there and read. Web (and search-engine) friendly, so that you can choose to Instapaper it if you want, but we hope you find our site so pleasing that you won't feel like you need to.
Development: While what you'll see is the presentation, we're also focusing on creating a great admin section behind the scenes, in order to facilitate the operation of Fireside going forward. We're building on top of the newly open-sourced Pressbooks platform, which is in turn built on top of Wordpress and is specifically geared towards book and editorial production. This means that not only will we be setting up a system that will ensure that Fireside can be published onto the web and into all ebook formats with very little operational overhead going forward, but we're also making sure that we can easily repurpose the content at any point, so that if a year from now we decide to adjust course and go back to print, or publish an anthology, or something else like that, we can easily do so directly from our publishing system, without having to scramble to find new technical solutions.
We're offering one-, three-, and twelve-issue subscription options to Fireside, available monthly as a website and an ebook. (The reward prices reflect what we plan to charge for subscriptions at launch: $2 a month). We have postcards featuring the Year Two artwork by Galen Dara (above). If you like, you can choose to have one of those postcards personalized by one of our Year Two contributors. Several of our contributors are offering autographed books, and Galen is also offering autographed 8x10s of the artwork. You can also choose to have your name used in one of our Year Two stories, or your likeness used in one of our Year Two story illustrations by Galen. And there are a limited number of mosaic stained-glass coasters featuring a new Fireside design, made by editor Brian White's wife, Lauren.
We've added two new rewards: The first is from A.E. Decker, whose very funny story "The Gnomes of New Jersey" will appear in Year Two. She is offering two small autographed garden gnomes (under a foot).
Second, we are offering five Marquis by Waterford crystal liquor decanters engraved with the Fireside logo. You'll be able to pick from these two designs, both of which hold 22 ounces:
Two notes: All backers at the one-year subscription level and above will receive an ebook of Chuck’s complete story after it wraps up next year. And anyone who backs at $35 or higher can choose to receive ebooks of our first three issues from last year.
$20,000 -- the bulk of the funds we hope to raise -- is budgeted to pay the writers, artist, and web developers working on Fireside's second year. $2,500 is for the cost of fulfilling Kickstarter rewards and miscellaneous expenses, like web hosting. And $2,500 goes to the fees charged by Kickstarter and Amazon.
If this Kickstarter succeeds, we will be be opening for submissions of flash fiction stories on March 15. We'll be looking for stories of 1,000 words or less in any genre. Our main criteria is that we are looking for great storytelling, stories that go somewhere even in the short space of flash fiction. We're not looking for character studies or metafiction or hallucinatory visions. (We like those things; it's just not what we publish in Fireside.)
We will not be opening immediately to submissions for longer stories. We had an open submissions for those a few months back, and we found seven of the writers for Year Two through that. If things go well though, we'll start looking for Year Three stories at some point down the road. (And if things go really well, we'd like to add more stories to each issue.)
We knew last year that there was a danger of Kickstarter fatigue in funding our issues one at a time. We’re pretty sure we hit that with Issue Three, which didn’t reach its funding goal until literally 12 seconds were left in the campaign.
We knew we needed to come up with a plan to fund multiple issues. In order to do this in a way that would not require a sky-high fundraising goal, we had to make a few changes.
The first was to eliminate the comic. We loved doing it, but it’s simply too expensive to keep doing for now. We’re hoping that once we get the magazine on a stable footing, we will be able to come up with some cool comics projects in the future.
The second big change was that we are not offering print editions. We’re really proud of the magazines we printed last year, but the small print runs were expensive. It makes more sense to focus on creating a really good website and offering ebooks than to keep producing a print magazine we have to charge $10 apiece for.
Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform, which means that people come together to fund projects that interest them. Think of it as a take on the NPR model: you make a pledge and you get a reward. But the big difference here is that it's not a gift to a nonprofit; it's funding for a business. You're not making a donation, you're buying a product.
Fireside likes to use Kickstarter as a preorder system. While there are lots of rewards beyond the subscriptions, we're charging the same subscription rate here that we will once we go live in July.
If you become a backer and make a pledge to Fireside today, you won't be charged until the end of the Kickstarter campaign, and you won't be charged at all if we don't reach our fundraising goal. This ensures that the project has the money it needs to succeed and protects backers from giving money to projects that don't raise enough funding to fulfill their goals.
Risks and challenges
We put together three magazines last year, and the main thing that bedeviled us was small things adding up to an eventual short delay of a few weeks in getting the issues out. That's one reason we want to fund the entire year at once: it will give us the security to work ahead as much as possible. We are not re-launching until July, giving us plenty of time to get organized and ready to hit that deadline on time.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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