The Current State of WordPress is Confusion

I’ll start by saying I’ve been using WordPress as a major foundation for my websites since January 2008. I have made themes, plugins, and built several sites using the software.

I am not sure who WordPress is for anymore.

I’ve been helping my father with a WordPress site. He wants to set up a blog for some travel he’s got planned and wanted some help. Now my dad has used WordPress before, circa 2014, and went into this thinking it would be just some refresher tips.

It was not.

In fact, thanks to the new editor feature, it turned into me learning on the spot how to do things in the new set up.

Things that were at once simple, like setting up a menu or changing the widgets are now completely unintuitive, involving extra clicks, hidden menus, and figuring out which blue box is highlighted.

I pulled up my self hosted version (Dad is on, and most of those features are as I Ieft them, leading me to think the back end is 1. different on .com and 2. linked to the capabilities of the theme being used.

(There is an extra menu layer on the .com site that is nothing but frustration.)

It doesn’t change the fact that Dad just wants a blog to post updates and pictures, something WordPress was designed to do, and it is not a straightforward thing to set up anymore.

One thing we would always ask as we were designing websites is “is it clear what you want the user to do?” A question on my mind as I was explain my father how to simply write a post.

Even the app has nothing but clutter. Why isn’t “post a blog” the most prominent thing on the first screen? (Blue button in the corner)

What is the current focus of WordPress? Who are they looking for as users? I know they are going after places like Squarespace for the website/webstore builders, but who are they leaving behind?

I know in the year 2021 someone making a blog isn’t as common of a thing. And the sites that WordPress hosts are rapidly becoming either webstores or content for clicks sites and adds, but still.


Somewhere in the rush to add in unlimited options the most important part was forgotten: the user.

All Good Things…

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.

I am proud of what was accomplished these past ten years. Just look at this list of authors.

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.

On Pro-Rates and Pro-Rights

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. 

  1. We need to stop pretending ‘podcasting’ is something different than audiobooks. The ‘podcast’ part is just a means of distribution. ↩︎