Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Interview with Graeme Hurry of KZine
Graeme Hurry of new UK Speculative Fiction Kindlezine Kzine kindly agreed to be interviewed by us.
W1S1 : Kzine is a new speculative fiction magazine, but you're by no means new to the publishing game. Could you give us a brief history of Kimota and Kzine?
In the early 90's I was the newsletter editor for the Preston Speculative Fiction Group which, at the time, were having guests at least every month. So the newsletter had information about the guests and news. At Christmas I brought out a bumper edition with contributions from Group Members. This grew in size over the years until I decided to get external contributions and sell it as widely as possible in attempt to advertise the SF Group. Issues 1 to 3 were photocopied and stapled by myself. From issue 4, I got a printer involved and the booklet became perfect-bound.
After 16 issues (8 years) circumstances changed and I found it too difficult and expensive to continue, and the mag folded. Last year I bought a Kindle for my mother for Christmas and on researching it came across the Direct Publishing Amazon allows and it seemed to solve the main problem I was having which was paying the printers up front, then inevitably being left with unsold copies. Kindle publication is free. Obviously Amazon takes a slice of sales but at least that's from definite income. So I decided to try the water and contact as many Kimota contributors as possible about publishing a bumper anthology of stories printed in the old Kimota. It was reasonably painless so I decided to get back in the saddle and start a new fiction Kindle magazine to be called Kzine.
At the moment I do not know if it will be published as a subscriber magazine or as a series of books. The problem with subscription magazines is that they only work on Kindles, not iPads or iPhones etc. So I'll probably go for a series of books. I don't have quite enough stories yet for issue 1 (as of July, 2011).
W1S1 : You're currently reading for Issue 1 of Kzine. What are you looking for?
I am looking for new fiction for worldwide publication on electronic format in the crime, horror, science fiction and fantasy genres, or mixtures of these. The main criteria are readability and originality. The length can be a bit more flexible than a print magazine but I would expect a word-count of between 1000 and 8000 words. Submissions should be by an attachment to an email. See the website.
My advice for new writers it to put the story away for a few days after it's written and look at it again as if you were a reader. In this way some blind-spots can be overcome and you could see if it works as a complete story rather than what was in your head when you wrote it. So often I get stories with continuity mistakes or are hard to read which the author should have noticed on a dispassionate reading.
W1S1 : Is Kzine going to be a paying market?
Yes, the aim is for an advance to be paid a month after publication and further payments made if the mag does well. The amounts are still being worked out but the web site has the current thoughts. The advances won't be enormous, particularly at first. But I will keep a track of all income from each magazine and when it reaches a worthwhile sum over and above the advance send the royalties on. However, I wouldn't be planning on buying a yacht, unless Matchbox does one!
W1S1 : What advice could you give to writers thinking of submitting to Kzine? Are there things you see too much of? Or not enough?
Because I have mainly being getting submissions from previous Kimota contributors the stories I am currently getting are Horror, fantasy and SF, however I have added crime to the mix and I would like either hard-boiled crime or better, crime mixed in with SF, fantasy or horror. But the story has to work and be a damn good read. It's not just a ticking boxes exercise.
W1S1 : Kzine is a UK magazine. Do you think it's useful to talk about British SF and, if so, how does it differ from, say, US SF?
I had some US contributions in the print Kimota and there are more sales of the Kindle Anthology so far in the US than the UK. However, I think the essence of a magazine is formed more by the editor's taste than the contributors. I may prefer the low key UK type of story but there are still plenty of people in the US producing such work.
I must admit in my SF reading I don't see much difference between US and UK SF. For instance I am reading Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep (a kindle version on my iPad actually) and it is original and superbly written and I couldn't tell if it was a part of UK or US SF, it's just damn good.
W1S1 : Kzine is to be a Kindle-only magazine. Do you think that's the future for publishing?
A couple of years ago I'd have said electronic books were heavy, annoying and could not replace paper. However on getting a Kindle and an iPad I find it so much more convenient to have your place found for you, an inbuilt dictionary to look up hard words. They're so much thinner than most modern books. You can also make notes which you can print. I'd say paper is going to dwindle to children's books, academic, small press and prestige editions in twenty years or so. The readability of the Kindle surface in the sun is very good and when a colour one comes out it will be superb. The one thing that electronic books don't give you is a surface for an author to sign if you meet them, but no doubt in time that will come too.
One problem with electronic books is that there is a glut of people publishing so sorting the geniuses from the misguided can be difficult. I'd like to encourage people to rate ebooks where possible, if you either love it or loathe it - it will help someone else in their selection.
Thanks Graeme - fascinating stuff. Don't forget, if you're interested in reading or contributing to Kzine, you can find out more here.