One Week Down

The title of this blog post looks like the name of some dive-bar rock band, doesn’t it? One Week Down, songs specializing in Friday Night. Well, for me, it feels like my ‘Friday’, and I’m here to tell you why that is:

DeadLights Horror Fiction Magazine put out its first issue in print and in Kindle over the course of this last week. Nook is still to follow – Barnes & Noble is still deciding whether or not I am who I say I am, and if I am in charge of the business I say I’m in charge of. I’m sure I’ll hear back from them about that soon. In the meantime, like I said; Print and Kindle! Not bad. Now, after all that work, it’s time for a bit of a break, right?

Well, not really. Truth is, when you own your own business – whatever that might be – you’re always working. I don’t mind at all. In fact, I love it. But, having released the magazine now, I do feel like it’s my Friday. It’ll be a short weekend. April is right around the corner. But, it’s time to enjoy and reflect a little bit on what was just accomplished …

… and one of the most important things to be done by any business, in my opinion, but especially by a brand new Horror Fiction Magazine on the market, is to make sure to learn from the mistakes you make so you do not make them again. One of the ways that this is possible, really, is by listening to what people have to say about what you’ve done; really listen. So, if you’re reading this … I really want to know what you all thought of the magazine, what could improve, what was done well – what sucked, too. Maybe, I want to know what sucked more than anything else. Another way to learn from your mistakes is to study the material you put out, study it as close as you can. But, having a bunch of eyeballs on it sure does help.

My thought is that, in the future, we’d give out free bookmarks for those that catch errors in the magazine. A ‘thank you’ for reading and being a part of the conversation, as it were. For now, you can comment on this post. I may or may not respond, but I will read it.

But, anyway: DeadLights is in its infancy, and there are things to learn from. For instance, you learn quick that having a printed copy of the magazine in advance is very important. That’s one of the reasons why DeadLights: The Micro-Press is up and running now – it’ll be easier to spot errors as they are right in front of your face, printed, and off the computer screen. There are some typos in the printed magazine – some things were not colored where they have been colored – a few paragraphs were double-indented. Kindle has a few errors, too, although Kindle was an experience in itself that I’ll get to in one of the following paragraphs. On the whole, these sort of mistakes were minimal. That’s because the writers worked hard to bring quality presentations to the table, and because I was so hard on them during the editing process. But, still, the errors are there, so you see them and learn from them and you don’t make the mistake again, you hope; you’re not perfect, but there are now little things on your radar that you’ll look for, next time.

That’s something that I picked up from the Air Force. Our boot-camp instructors would come in to our bays and look at our beds and our lockers and our privacy drawers (not, like, underwear drawers, but places where you put private things, like your wallet, etc.). If the instructor found one thing, then he’d start really looking at your shit, and: if there was one thing, there was bound to be another. I always wondered how he found the first mistake, though. Truth was, of course, that he’d been through those bays with different Airmen so many times that he could spot a wrinkled bed from across the room. It just takes time and experience. I’m working on that.

Not that I want to make my magazine experience like my boot-camp experience!

Kindle; ah, Kindle. Kindle was a different beast all-together. I had someone outside of the magazine do the formatting, and so some of what was put into kindle was taken right out of our magazine-building software, but some of it was created outside my control. And, what was also interesting, was that we were given a ‘proof’ to go over. This was difficult to do on a time-table, especially since the Kindle was supposed to be released on the first (but was delayed, by this process). Seventy-Three pages of copy to go over, with variables you can’t expect from angles of layout, even, and, all the while, you want to get it done as quickly as possible so that it gets out to all of you – who expected it earlier than it came out! Crazy days. What was also interesting was that the first group of corrections was free. The second and third started costing more and more money. So, much like the printing of the magazine, if you’re not producing the thing yourself, you’re losing money – and you’re entrusting work to people who are not OCD about the product. I hope to learn how create my own Kindle version of the magazine, in the future.

One thing I was really happy about, though, is the way the comics were set up in print and Kindle. They came out just as I hoped they would. All the stories were set up as I wanted them to be, too, and my experiment with the contrasting poems in red, while the words were in white, was neat-looking. Will that continue with other poems? Probably, but we may shake it up from time to time.

So, it’s not all bad news – most of it is good, in fact. I’m optimistic. But there is a learning curve when it comes to putting out a professional-level magazine. I only have room to improve upon it and upon myself as an editor. The Jack Ketchum issue in April is going to be really fun, and we’ve selected a great group of stories (are still trying to choose between a few, actually). Now that I know what we’re in for, it’ll get easier to anticipate time-tables … and we’ll keep on having fun, as always. And being able to do an interview with someone Stephen King called ‘the scariest guy in America’ … I mean, holy shit, right?

But for now – for right now – I’m going to enjoy my Friday.

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