Ten years is a good run for sure. It wasn’t the run I had hoped, but it still had lots of high points. And for LampLight, June 2022, which is its ten year mark, will be its last issue. This was not a decision made in haste, but one planned for nearly two years at this point.
LampLight never found the audience I was aiming for. Subscription numbers never grew above 100, much less to sustaining levels.
And I have reached a level of burnout that will only hurt future issues.
Getting help is never as easy as it sounds, and I will admit I am in envy of the magazines with staff and volunteers.
I am grateful for everyone who helped. To Cat, Paul and Elise who stepped in to edit, to Paula who helped with the masthead and first sets of covers. To Fiona who wrote amazing academic work on dark fiction. To Kevin whose answer “…yeah, I think I can write a novella…” started off the first volume of the magazine. To Ben, who helped me learn as much as I taught. To Jesus who believed in my unformed ideas and gave advice and guidance. And to Katie, especially, without whom the magazine would have never made it past a few issues.
The pages of this magazine hold some of the best fiction I’ve ever read. And yes, as the editor I am supposed to think that, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.
LampLight has had an amazing run, but it is time for other projects, other adventures.
I have no doubt LampLight will return one day. But for now, for a long while, it will sit, an archive of 40 issues of amazing dark fiction.
Apokrupha Books isn’t going anywhere. We will have classics and anthologies and more things coming in the months and years ahead.
My final advice to everyone is this: promote new releases from the magazines you want to see stick around with the same level of energy you promote their submission guidelines. A submission is not support, it is a business transaction. Support is promotion, purchase and reading.
When you look at the requirements for a ‘pro-sale’ for both the SFWA and the HWA you will see payment, word count, but you won’t see rights anywhere. And I think that is an issue.
It is one thing to say that 8¢/5¢ per word is professional rate, but for what? First sale? Print? Ebook? What if it includes audio (podcasting) rights, future anthology rights? What about the exclusivity period? Is three years exclusive ‘professional’? What about 5? What about perpetual?
When someone buys a story for X¢ per word, it is those rights that they are buying.
At LampLight we paid about 3–5¢ per word for most of our run, which is not a professional rate most of the time. But, we did not ask for professional rights either. Non-exclusive (no period of exclusivity at all), sure it is ‘perpetual’, but that is simply to keep old issues of the magazine in ‘print’ since they are ebooks/POD. We explicitly state we cannot use the stories outside of the issue/annual.
It was this balance between what we needed to publish a magazine, and our budget that led to this.
And yet I see places asking for long exclusivity periods, for audio rights, either audiobooks or performance, because they have a podcast. Hell, there was a horrible anthology that asked for movie and video game rights.
But hey! They paid 10¢ per word…
The point I’m trying to make is that we should be linking ‘pro-sale’ to a certain rights / exclusivity period as well. Something like:
X¢ per word
Print / ebook
Max of 1 year exclusivity (exclusions for Best of… and Author collections)
And make it clear that additional rights have additional costs to be considered a pro-sale.
We should have guidance for what things like audio rights1, derivative rights, adaptation rights, video games, etc, should be to meet a pro-sale requirement. (Yes, some of this is in the SFWA and HWA requirements, for which I am grateful)
And if you are a ‘for the love’ market, the word ‘exclusive’ should not appear in your contract.
I think that this, perhaps more so than the price-per-word is what marks a publication / market as a professional sale: a market paying correctly for the rights it is acquiring.
We need to stop pretending ‘podcasting’ is something different than audiobooks. The ‘podcast’ part is just a means of distribution. ↩︎
Today, 16 October 2021, I purchased a MagSafe charger for my 2011 MacBook. Affectionately called “the Beast” the computer, despite its age, still runs well and lets me run older programs with ease.
I have lost count of how many Magsafe chargers I’ve purchased, but this is at least the 5th; I suspect more like the 7th. Each charger, btw, is (still!) $70–80 USD. You see, while most of the time the ‘brick’ part was fine, the cable that connects to the computer, the part with that beloved magnet, will inevitably fail, fray, and otherwise destruct over time. And since it is fixed to the brick, the whole charger is done at that point.
But I need that charger to run my computer, because the 2011 MacBook Pro has a MagSafe port, and it is the only way to charge it.
I also have a newer MacBook, one that charges via USB-C. When that charger cable frays and breaks, when I go somewhere and forget it, when I lose it, I will buy another for less than $20 from the nearest electronics store1. They will be available from multiple companies, and come in many options.
There are rumors that the MagSafe port is going to have a grand re-entrance into our lives on Monday, returning to the side of the MacBook where it was meant to be.
Now, once upon a time our laptops had ok battery life, 2–5 hours depending on the make and model, which meant that a lot of the time you were using them they were also plugged in.
This is the advantage to MagSafe, the safety feature, if you will. You’re there typing away on the couch, plugged in to the wall, chords strung about the living room floor—then someone rushes through, trips on the cable but the charger disconnects since it is just a magnet holding it in and your computer is safe!
(Well, that’s the theory, the magnets are pretty strong, so I suspect the computer is going for a flight in this specific example…)
But it is a proprietary port. One that is still as frail as any other cable, but expensive to replace. Our computers have fantastic battery life these days; we aren’t sitting tethered to the wall anywhere near as much as we were.
One day, I won’t be able to get a charger for the 2011 anymore. Maybe the machine will give up the ghost before then, hopefully. But this new MacBook? I will be able to buy USB-C cables and chargers for a long time.
And, when I go on travel? I bring one cable. I use it to charge my Mac, my Switch, and my camera. I use it to connect to my camera, to monitors, external hard drives. And that makes it much more valuable than the perception of safety a magnet charger gives me.
So my hope for Monday, should MagSafe see its way back onto the Macintosh—it made its way on the iPhone last year, in a way that makes me fear Apple is moving towards a port-less phone, which would be a step too far for me. Especially considering how inefficient wireless charging is.
Seriously, I don’t understand how you can claim to be pro-environment and then offer wireless charging. /rant
So my hope, if we are indeed to see MagSafe return to the MacBook is that it is, simply, optional, and they keep the already established USB-C charging as an option, for those of us who very much prefer to have one charger to rule them all.
The Beast will live another day with the new charger. But it has only reminded me why proprietary ports are bad for the consumer, bad for keeping things running past their ‘expiration.’ That computer’s life span is more connected to the availability of a proprietary cable than the lifespan of the components inside.
Also, a related side note, BACk-UP YOUR SHIT.
Well, we got the best of both… no three worlds. The new MacBook Pros were announced and they indeed have MagSafe back. They also include the ability to charge over USB.
BUT. Here’s the part that makes me happy. It is not a MagSafe charger, it is a MagSafe Cable, meaning that the expense to replace it will be less, and much simpler that for the MagSafe 1 and 2 chargers. And that’s a good thing.
Yes I know not all USB-C cables are the same, but that is a different discussion ↩︎