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ROF: State of the Union

  • Jun. 3rd, 2010 at 6:03 PM

Hello Everyone,

As some of you are aware either because you received the notice or because you read about it in various corners of the web, a subscription notice recently went out for RoF. In it, our publisher wrote that he wanted to make our subscriber base aware that, as things currently stand, subscription renewals have been insufficient to support the magazine. This was not a notice informing subscribers that the magazine was being canceled. It was, as Warren put it in the note, intended to make people aware of the danger to the magazine. To this point, no one from RoF has blogged about the situation to the online world on any of our personal blog accounts or on the RoF website. However, Warren has recently asked me to do just this, and so I'm writing this to inform you all about where the magazine currently stands.

As the publisher, Warren will obviously have more details about this than I do. That said, I know a fair deal about where things stand and I'll share with you what I can. Since Warren bought the magazine, newsstand sales have been up and advertising is definitely trending in the right direction. That's the good news. The not-so-bright news is what I just mentioned, i.e. the subscription renewals aren't coming in at a high enough clip. Because of that, there is indeed a danger to the magazine's future. When Sovereign abruptly closed RoF back in 2009, it came as something of a shock to the community. So instead of risking subjecting everyone to that exact same scenario once again, Warren has chosen to make the community aware of the situation. When the magazine was initially cancelled, there was a tremendous outcry, so this time around the magazine's new publisher is giving the speculative community the opportunity to have a say in the magazine's future. If RoF isn't meant to continue, it won't be because the community as a whole didn't have a chance to get involved.

Since Warren took over we've delivered a year's worth of issues. In that time, he has been terrific to work for. He's improved the magazine's cover stock and he's given us a terrific website to complement the magazine. We've added a column to the magazine without sacrificing any existing ones. Warren has also made the magazine available for purchase through the Kindle and we're currently exploring other avenues to make RoF available to an even wider audience. Transitioning under a new publisher is a long process. There is no denying there have been some road bumps along the way, but we'd like to think that with each issue the revived RoF has been steadily improving. We have a lot more in the works to continue building on what we've started, and we're confident that if our readers stay with us, their patience will be rewarded.

With the forthcoming August issue, we have a new graphic designer lined up, and in the next couple of months we have an exciting announcement planned concerning the magazine's staff that we're certain our readers will be thrilled with. Warren also has plans to re-launch a second magazine--Dreams of Decadence--under Tir Na Nog Press. Having a second speculative magazine under the same publishing company will do a lot to help complement and stabilize RoF.

We're constantly working to improve the magazine. Creatively speaking, RoF's future is looking bright and there is a lot to be excited about. Financially speaking, I've mentioned the pros and I've mentioned the cons. It's fair to say we're currently navigating some choppy waters. Behind the scenes, there has been some sacrifice involved in RoF reaching this point. But I don't want this to sound like all gloom and doom. Our publisher has been very proactive since taking over. The subscription note he sent out is one more example of that. We have a lot of things planned for the magazine, both in its immediate and long-term future. If enough subscriptions come in, it isn't our intention that this be a short-term fix. There are a lot of avenues we mean to capitalize on to keep this magazine running. We just need to stick around long enough to take advantage of them. If we can get through this rough patch the magazine could be secure and stable for a very long time.

In addition to doing our best to improve the magazine, the past year and change has been about rescuing RoF, transitioning under our new publisher, and getting this magazine back on track as we juggled and integrated inherited materials from Sovereign Media with new ones delivered to Tir Na Nog Press. With the publication of the August issue, the magazine's transition from Sovereign Media to Tir Na Nog Press will be over in about every major respect you can imagine. It's been very exciting to reach this point, and the magazine's future is looking just as exciting, if not more so. It's just a matter of whether we, the readers, writers, and artists will have that chance to enjoy what's on the horizon. If not, so be it. It's been a great ride. But if yes, we have lots more in store.

So if you'd like to see RoF continue, the easiest thing you can do is make as many people as possible aware about where things stand with the magazine. But the most important thing you can do is subscribe or renew your subscription at your earliest convenience. Writing a note like this is never easy. No one likes asking for help. But as much as RoF means to everyone on the staff, we also understand that this magazine is bigger than any of us. It belongs to the speculative community, and it has for almost sixteen years. It's a community filled with tremendously intelligent and creative people. Not everyone in it will always see eye to eye, but when it comes to speculative literature, everyone will agree that we want what's best for the community as a whole. But it's not for the magazine's publisher, editors, or columnists to state that RoF continuing is best for the community. It's for you to decide, the readers, writers, and artists. The other editors and other publishers and other nonfiction columnists. In short, the community should decide what is best. And that's why we've chosen to make you aware of the magazine's situation. And if you should choose to support the magazine, please know it will be most appreciated and we'll all do our best to reward your faith in and support of us.

So that's where things stand as I write this. If you have questions, please feel free to ask. We'll do our best to answer you. If you have concerns (besides the obvious concern for the future of the magazine), please express them. We'll do our best to put you at ease. Thanks so much for your time.


melissajm wrote:
Jun. 3rd, 2010 10:31 pm (UTC)
I've renewed for 2-3 years.
douglascohen wrote:
Jun. 3rd, 2010 10:33 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Melissa. The support is appreciated.
melissajm wrote:
Jun. 3rd, 2010 11:46 pm (UTC)
My pleasure. I like the magazine.
mouseferatu wrote:
Jun. 4th, 2010 12:22 am (UTC)
Spreading the word via my various blogs, for whatever it's worth.
douglascohen wrote:
Jun. 4th, 2010 12:25 am (UTC)
It's worth a lot. Thanks very much.
ljgeoff wrote:
Jun. 4th, 2010 12:00 pm (UTC)
Just as a data point, I never renewed my subscription because I never got all of my magazines. I think that I've got five so far.

I never really think about it; I'm always a bit surprised to see them. I work a lot, so maybe I've got a neighbor who's filching them out of my mailbox.

Seriously, I know that this isn't something that an editor can control, but not recieving all of my first subscription makes me hesitant to renew.

On the gripping hand, I probably will because it's a great magazine.
douglascohen wrote:
Jun. 4th, 2010 04:58 pm (UTC)
If an issue doesn't arrive and you have a subscription, there is a customer service # you can call: 877-318-3269.

If they're out, feel free to contact me privately through LJ. I might have an extra issue of whichever one you're missing. If I do, I'll mail it along to you.

Thanks for your support.
mamajoan wrote:
Jun. 4th, 2010 02:55 pm (UTC)
Hi! I found your post via Twitter, where it's making the rounds. Since this means it's going to be seen by a lot of people who aren't familiar with your magazine, may I respectfully suggest that your post needs a link or two? If it's possible to subscribe online, putting the link for that in your post would be really helpful. If not, at least a link to the magazine's website or similar. I'm sure I won't be the only person who comes here via Twitter and then wants to find out more about the subscription options....

Edited at 2010-06-04 02:56 pm (UTC)
douglascohen wrote:
Jun. 4th, 2010 04:50 pm (UTC)
That's a fair suggestion. I was worried including a link (especially one to subscribe) would seem pushy. But being as you asked, that's another story entirely: http://www.rofmag.com/

There's a nav bar on top. If you choose to subscribe, just look for the option that says SUBSCRIBE. Thanks.
deathbyreading wrote:
Jun. 5th, 2010 01:40 am (UTC)
To be fair, I've only read one issue of RoF. The writing and art was of good quality -- it sets the bar for what speculative fiction magazines should be. As a would-be fantasy writer (and one-time WOTF entrant) and fantasy nerd, I appreciate what RoF has done for our genre.
If there's any way I can help (in addition to finally getting around to getting a subscription), let me know.

Owner of www.smallbusinessrepublic.ca
douglascohen wrote:
Jun. 5th, 2010 01:44 am (UTC)
Thanks, Brian. The only other thing I can suggest is to spread the word. It's not just about how many people will subscribe if you link to the news from your blog or website, it's also about how many people will read for the first time about what's going on and also decide to link to it. Call it momentum, I guess. Anyway, thanks for your support.
deathbyreading wrote:
Jun. 5th, 2010 02:04 am (UTC)
Will keep tweeting; will blog about it once my site is running at full capacity (June 20th); I'll also push RoF at the bookstore I work at, telling our spec fic readers to check you guys out. I have a knack for getting people to try new Fantasy.
douglascohen wrote:
Jun. 5th, 2010 02:14 am (UTC)
Thank you very much. That's very generous of you.
deathbyreading wrote:
Jun. 17th, 2010 08:39 pm (UTC)
Have moved on from LJ, but still pimping you guys on twitter : http://twitter.com/SBRepublic.
Hope all is well.
douglascohen wrote:
Jun. 18th, 2010 06:35 am (UTC)
Thanks for the continued support!
deathbyreading wrote:
Jun. 17th, 2010 08:40 pm (UTC)
Have moved on from LJ, but still pimping you guys on twitter : http://twitter.com/SBRepublic.
Hope all is well.


Douglas Cohen

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