11 August 2009

Baens Universe Closing

Jim Baens Universe Magazine is closing its doors next April. It's a fine ezine run by denizens of the SF community who made every effort to reach out to readers and writers via their Baens Bar Slush and other forums. I read Baen's early on and was encouraged by their efforts to publish newbies. I nearly had my first pro sale there, picked up off their Bar Slush. It was set for publication until the murders at Virginia Tech happened. Eric Flint wrote me his personal regrets, telling me how much he loved the story but couldn't in good conscience publish it due to the violent nature.

But in the end, Baen's just didn't make the money. Paying pro rates is tough; making money on magazines is tougher. Frankly, I think the real problem is that most people equate Internet with Free. There's simply too much free content out there, like Electric Spec, to compete with. Baen's tried to do everything right, tried to tackle the Internet Age from a publishing standpoint, but has ultimately failed.

We've been in this little venture for 3 1/2 years, paying not nearly enough for our stories, good stories. Even so, we have an active slush and readership and we like to think we publish great stories here in our little corner of the Internet. At every production meeting we discuss how we could pay better rates. We know, and Baen's confirms this, that subscriptions are not likely to pay the bills. Still, we are always looking into creative ways to continue bringing you great, free fiction while paying our authors rates they deserve. We believe writers deserve more. The folks at Jim Baen's Universe did, too, and I'm sorry to see them go.


writtenwyrdd said...

That's really too bad, but you're right about Internet equalling free in the minds of folks.

lesleylsmith said...

Yes, it's sad to see them go. :(
Clearly we haven't finished our growing pains regarding publishing and the internet. It will be interesting to see where it all ends up.