Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

The Economy 2, SF/F magazines, 0 — or, RoF and DoD shut down due to poor sales figures.

with 5 comments

I was shocked to read at this evening that both Dreams of Decadence and Realms of Fantasy (also called DoD and RoF by cognoscenti) are shutting down immediately due to poor sales figures.  I knew Realms of Fantasy was in trouble; I didn’t know Dreams of Decadence was also in trouble, though they were both owned by the same parent company.

Warren LaPine, the publisher of Realms of Fantasy, said this in his final letter from the publisher, available at this link :

I invested more than $50,000.00 of my own money into reviving (Realms of Fantasy). I tried every traditional method I could think of to increase the circulation, but nothing worked. I also spent a great deal of money trying nontraditional methods. I advertised online with Google and Facebook, neither of which came close to covering their costs. And we created DRM-free electronic versions of the magazine to see if that would help increase our circulation. Sadly, the DRM-free versions never sold more than twenty five copies per issue, and the Kindle editions sold fewer still.

 As things stand, I would need to invest another large amount of money simply to continue publishing the magazine at its current level—an investment that I do not believe would have any chance of repaying itself. So, unfortunately, I have no choice but to close Realms of Fantasy and Dreams of Decadence.

This is horrible news for readers, who now have fewer choices when it comes to quality magazines that publish science fiction and fantasy, but it’s even worse news for writers.  Simply put: the economy gets us coming and going.  We all scramble for the available markets, and while a few new ones have opened that seem very, very good (Redstone SF, Daily Science Fiction, and John Joseph Adams’ new Lightspeed magazine), it seems that every time we turn around, there’s another venerable SF&F magazine like RoF biting the dust.

It’s sad.  It’s shocking.  And I wish I didn’t have to report such horrible news.

The only potential good that may come out of Mr. LaPine’s note as of 10/18/2010 is that he’s willing to sell Realms of Fantasy for $1.  That’s right.  One whole dollar.  But don’t try to buy it unless you’re willing to put at least as much money — and time — as Mr. LaPine . . . I know that if I had at least $50K start-up, I’d be glad to buy Realms of Fantasy and Dreams of Decadence and put everyone back to work.

But I don’t.  And many writers/editors are like me — flat-out busted.

So for now — and perhaps forever — we must bid adieu to these two fine magazines.  How I wish it weren’t so.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 20, 2010 at 4:05 am

5 Responses

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  1. Well, I wonder what sort of marketing techniques he used. If the magazine was purely an e-zine then it shouldn’t be too expensive. If he was a print magazine, well, all magazines are suffering right now, even Teen Beat. The only reason a lot of them are going is due to their having a larger parent company floating them.

    Since the Jim Baen Universe went under, Baen hasn’t had a magazine or e-zine out there. Perhaps this is their chance to pick up a well-regarded magazine on the cheap and use it’s established reader base to carry on Jim’s dream?


    October 20, 2010 at 7:35 am

  2. Jason, it seems that RoF’s established reader base was too small to carry on any magazine.

    Even if they would want a mag that BAEN would publish.

    Of course, that might depend on whatever editors were hired. The old ones are layed off.

    I see no good news here.


    Howard Wilkins

    October 20, 2010 at 5:09 pm

  3. Jason, RoF was both a print and e-zine. I don’t know their subscription models, either — I just know Mr. LaPine had tried very hard to get it back up and running, and it didn’t work. And in so doing, it took Dreams of Decadence right out alongside RoF — DoD was ekeing out a magazine before Mr. LaPine came along, it seems to me.

    I agree with you that perhaps this is something Baen Books might be able to pick up. Shawna McCarthy — something I don’t think Howard is aware of — was one of the editors there, and she is Eric Flint’s literary agent. Maybe there’s a tie there that might be exploited.

    There _is_ the new Universe Annex that’s going to take one or maybe two stories a month that _aren’t_ 1632-related and publish it alongside the Grantville Gazette. Sam someone-or-other — new to the Bar since I was last there — is in charge of that. It’s run the same way JBU’s “new writer” slush was run — you have to post your story to the slush pile, get comments, and hope the editor likes your work. Most pro writers don’t have the time to do something like that, but some do — this is yet another reason I may end up back on the Bar sooner rather than later even though my own time is more limited than I’d like (and of course, Michael will never again be on the Bar; that’s the main reason I’ve stayed away — it makes for less stress for me).

    There’s so much talent in SF/F that it seems to me _someone_ might be able to give RoF one more try, and DoD, too. But whoever that person or people is/are, they need to have patience — give it at least a year, maybe two years — and try as many innovative things to get readership as possible, including giveaways (JBU used to give away coffee mugs, e-ARCs, all sorts of things if you bought a membership — I know, ’cause I had two).

    Howard, I agree with you that the news is definitely bleak even if someone _does_ pick up RoF. It’s depressing. More good people out of work does _not_ make me a happy camper.

    Barb Caffrey

    October 20, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    • Probably Sam Hidaka. He’s been around quite a long while, I’d forgotten that he wasn’t there when you were.


      October 21, 2010 at 11:13 am

      • Yeah, that’s him. If he was at the Bar at the same time Michael and I were, I just don’t recall him at all.

        Barb Caffrey

        October 22, 2010 at 7:55 pm

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