Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Those Are Not “Free” Magazines

Anyone familiar with this blog knows that I have extremely mixed feelings about the print-on-demand magazine industry.  On the one hand, it provides an outlet for creative people to do some amazing work with no financial outlay.  On the other hand, that very lack of required financial commitment has created some rather callous attitudes among people who now claim the title of “editor”.

One recurring statement from these editors drives me particularly crazy, that they do not give “free” magazines to contributors.  And yes, they usually do put the word ‘free’ in quotes, whether for emphasis or irony I’m not sure.  In one distinctly memorable case, a magazine’s submission guidelines stated quite emphatically “we do NOT give out free magazines, so DON’T ASK”.  This is the attitude I have a problem with.

There is a difference between a contributor copy and a free magazine.  Free magazines are copies that you give to your mom, your best friend, or maybe a vendor that you would like to see carrying your publication so they can take a look at what you’re asking them to sell.  In other words, they are product given to people who did not in any way have anything to do with the creation of the product.

Contributor copies are product given to people whose work was crucial to the creation of the product, without which there would be no product.

See how those things are different?

Now, before you get the idea that I think all print-on-demand magazines are Satan’s work and the creators of them should perish in a fire fueled by the very paper their evil is printed on, let me assure you that is not the case.  A lot of really talented people are using the available print-on-demand technology to do a lot of really good work, I applaud them for it and I don’t want to see that change.  What needs to change is the “free” magazine attitude.

Let’s break this down, shall we?

Say an issue of your magazine is 60 pages.  To keep it simple, we’ll estimate layout time of 20 minutes per page.  Some may take longer than that, some may take considerably less time, but for the sake of discussion we’ll use 20 hours as the total time to complete the layout.  Add to that another 20 hours of reviewing submissions, and another 20 hours of chasing down hi-res photos, releases, miscellaneous nuts & bolts and legal crap, etc., and you have 60 hours total assembly time for a 60 page magazine.  That’s a week and a half at a full-time job and, using California minimum wage for an example base, we’ll say has a cash value of $600.

Now, say this issue of your magazine has 60 photos from 30 different contributors.  Each of those photos has a photographer, whose time we’ll value at $50 an hour for a two hour session, and a model, whose time we’ll go ahead and stick with CA minimum wage for a total of $20.  Somebody had to drive somewhere, so we’ll throw in another $20 for expenses.  Wardrobe, hair, and makeup, we’ll estimate another $50.  That’s $190 worth of work, from 30 different sets of people.

For a total of $5700 worth of content.  For your magazine.  From which no one will profit but you.

If you are creating a magazine via print-on-demand, your business model likely does not allow for the purchase and distribution of contributor copies.  There is nothing wrong with that.  But you need to say “we are not able to provide contributor copies” rather than “we do not give away free magazines”.  Because saying you do not give away free magazines implies that the people who might want them, the people providing the content without which you would have no magazine, have done nothing to earn them, and that is just not the case.

Most people don’t have the money it usually takes to start a magazine.  That’s fine.  Print-on-demand has provided the means to bypass that obstacle.  However, it costs you nothing to show a little respect for the people who are helping to make your creative dream a reality.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Large-Breasted Geek Phenomenon: Some Theories

I have a dear friend who is, hands down, the most dedicated geek I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  She loves Star Wars, Doctor Who, Comic-Con, WoW, you name it, she’s into it to a degree I find not only endearing but fascinating in its dedication.

She also has really large breasts.  And apparently, there are women who believe these things cannot exist simultaneously in a single being, so they insist either the breasts are fake or the geekery must be.

I know for a fact both of these things are genuine in this particular woman, and I also know there are others like her in the world.  Which begs the question, where does the large-breasted geek come from?  How is she formed, in what environment does she thrive?  After careful thought, I have come up with three possible theories to explain her.


Many naturally large-breasted women get really fucking tired of constantly being hit on, leered at, and otherwise made to feel like they are nothing but a great pair of tits that happens to have a voice and brain attached.  At a young age, a lot of them discover the easiest way to avoid this treatment is gravitating toward the guys who are too shy, awkward, and/or insecure to behave in this manner; the geeks.  By inhabiting a social circle predominantly geek-like in its interests, these interests are absorbed.


Many brothers of naturally large-breasted women get really fucking tired of seeing their sisters constantly being hit on, leered at, and otherwise made to feel like they are nothing but a great pair of tits that happens to have a voice and brain attached.  To combat this, they may choose to be a larger and more dominant presence in their sisters' lives than they might be otherwise.  Consequently, the sisters will be exposed to many more interests that are considered traditionally “male”, such as sports and geekery, and develop a fondness for those interests as a result of not only constant exposure but the sense of family bonding associated with sharing them.


Brain development and breast development occur completely independently, and these two things actually don’t have a damn thing to do with one another.  Get over it, and if you want bigger boobs, go buy some.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Things That Are Not Plagiarism

Few things on the Internet bug me more, as an editor, an artist, and a human being who loves language enough to want to see it used properly, than the constant throwing around of accusations of plagiarism by people who don't seem to have taken the time to learn what that word actually means.

Plagiarism is when someone takes someone else’s original work and claims it as their own, either intact or after making only very minor alterations that leave it still recognizable as the original work.  For instance, if I were to post this

“Faith is the downy thing
That lands upon the heart
And dances a dance without a beat
Missing time apart”

as an original work by Harlean Carpenter, that would be plagiarism because, for any of you not familiar with it, this

“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all”

is by Emily Dickinson.  Anyone familiar with the original would see immediately that I had ripped her off, blatantly.  And badly, but give me a break, that’s just something I dashed off to prove a point.

The following two things, the most common of the completely false accusations I see, are not plagiarism:

Someone buying a copy of your book and then selling it is not plagiarism, it is reselling.  If they took a marker, blacked out your name, wrote their own in its place and then sold it, that would be plagiarism.  And stupid, that would also be really really stupid.  But just selling something they own is not a crime.

Someone sharing your Facebook/Myspace/Twitter posts is also not plagiarism, and frankly it blows my mind that anyone would think it is, but apparently a lot of people do think just that.  So, to clarify for those people... no.  If you post something in a public forum, and someone shares it in the same public forum with your name still on it, that is not any kind of plagiarism.  I'm sorry if you don’t like the opinion of your comment/status/tweet they may have added upon sharing it, but that does not make them plagiarists.  It might make them assholes, but last time I checked that's still legal in most states.

Plagiarism is a huge concern in any creative field, and every time someone throws the word where it doesn't apply, it only makes it more difficult for the actual offenses to be taken as seriously as they should be.  So, boys and girls, next time you want to accuse someone of something, make sure what you're accusing them of is what they're actually doing.