HomeAll postsfanzine vs semi-prozine

fanzine vs semi-prozine


‘Is this a thing?’ I hear you ask.  ‘Yes, it is,’ I reply with a world-weary air.  I was perplexed at first but I’ve done my research.

‘Zine’:  a magazine-type thing whether online or in paper format

‘Fanzine’: a magazine-type thing that either breaks even or runs at a loss; no-one gets paid in $$ although contributors and staff can receive free schwag like books to review, coffee mugs, tee-shirts etc.  I interpreted this definition from the Hugo Awards.  Dark Matter runs at a loss even with the much-appreciated donations from my one and only donor who wishes to stay anonymous.  The things I’ve given away – books, DVDs and movie passes – have all been given to Dark Matter for promotional purposes.  It’s taken a lot of my time and effort to follow through with these promotions FOR FREE.  I haven’t received a cent for my  time and effort.  No-one who has received free promotional time & space has ever made a ‘donation’.

‘Semi-prozine’:  a magazine-type thing that pays contributors in $$, more than little bits of schwag.  I haven’t worked out the difference between ‘semi-prozine’ and a ‘professional’ publication.  Locus is a semi-prozine: it pays contributors and people purchase the zine, they pay $$ for Locus while Dark Matter is free.

Why is this a problem?  Other fanzine editors have stated in writing on the webz and in their publications that Dark Matter is a semi-prozine is a problem because contributors will expect to get paid.  And when I can’t pay them, they may change their minds about contributing, believing that I’m ripping them off or singling them out.

Not impressed.

If anyone is concerned about the veracity of my claim to fanzine status, you can check out the frequency of my interstate and overseas trips, admire my chauffeur-driven limousine and my uber-fashionable-brand-name wardrobe.  😛

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


  1. Some context:

    Back in the dark ages, when mimeo machines were cranked by hand, there were fanzines and professional magazines, and there were Hugo Awards for both of them.

    Eventually one fanzine called Locus got too big for some fans’ britches, so a “semiprozine” category was created to kick Locus out of the fanzine category. And there was much rejoicing. Locus could continue to garner awards and increase its circulation, and other, smaller fanzines could win Hugo awards of their own.

    Of course, it was a badly-defined category.

    The professional science fiction magazine market shrank, and soon there were not enough prozines to fill out a Hugo Award nomination slate, so the “Best Professional Magazine” category was retired, along with a lot of context explaining the “pro” part of “semipro.”

    Locus started paying its editorial staff along with its contributors, but there wasn’t a pro magazine category for it to be moved into anymore.

    On the other hand, a number of small markets that paid contributors were noticed and started being recognized. When there was a push to retire the “Best Semiprozine” category because it was just “Best Locus,” a bunch of those magazines, and a bunch of writers who were given their break by semiprozines stepped up and said “Oh, no you don’t!” There’s a new definition for Semiprozine that’s being ratified later this week, and the category is strong. It doesn’t just recognize Locus, and it does recognize some fantastic short fiction publishers.

    The new definition is still shaky, but it’s much better.

    So that’s the context. It’s all just rockets.

    I think you’re golden for “fanzine.” Non-commercial, labor of love, publishing what you want. Of course, unless you’re looking to be nominated for a Hugo, it doesn’t matter how other people define you.


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