It’s been a long, long time since I had to apologize for the lateness of an issue. Typically, our goal is to distribute issues on a very predictable schedule every four to six weeks. For the past five years we’ve done a wonderful job, but it hasn’t always been that way.
We had some pretty mean years in the first half of the 1990s. Issues were put out unpredictably, whenever we had enough material and time. Sometimes there’d be a four-month gap between issues, followed by three issues in a six-week period. One of our readers’ biggest complaints was the lack of a reliable publication schedule. In 1996, we made a commitment to our readers to distribute issues in a more controlled fashion, and of the 50 issues sent out in the past five years, only four have been delayed beyond our ideal target.
Some numbers will help illustrate how dramatic the change has been. From 1989 through 1995 we distributed one issue on average every 9.2 weeks, plus or minus a whopping 8.7 weeks. It was just as likely that our next issue would come out in one week or four months! Our schedule was very clearly out of control. Compare that with our performance since then: from the end of 1996 to the present, we’ve averaged one issue every 4.9 weeks, plus or minus just 1.7 weeks!
As you can see, we heard our readers’ concerns, and have done our best to put issues out on a more regular schedule. But I find myself in the position of letting you know that we may not be able to print issues as predictably as we have been. No, the dot-com meltdown hasn’t impacted us, nor have we had to lay off any of our volunteer writers! But there is a clear reason.
Back in 1996, when we decided to begin sending issues out more regularly, we were fortunate to have many stories that were either waiting for publication or nearing completion. We enjoyed a steady supply of material to print, and we had a number of prolific writers who ensured that the queue of ready-to-print stories was replenished just as quickly as we could publish them! Although we’d often have one or two contributors whose writing flagged for whatever reason, there always seemed to be other active writers with more stories to enable us to meet our publishing schedule. In short, with DargonZine coming out once every four to six weeks, our writers were creating enough new fiction to support the magazine indefinitely.
That worked out tremendously, as we’ve been very proud to be able to bring you 135 great new stories over the past five years. But in 2001, we’ve hit a bump in the road. We’ve lost a few productive writers, our new writers haven’t produced many new stories, and even our longstanding writers have had reasons for not writing that range from mandatory military service, moving, visa problems, overseas work assignments, family illness, and other life-impacting events. In short, instead of one or two writers flagging and the other writers picking up the slack, it seems that this year almost everyone has had to put their writing aside for one reason or another. Our usual steady stream of submissions has slowed to a trickle, and that means that we can’t put out issues as often or as predictably as we would like.
Of course, that doesn’t mean DargonZine is an endangered beast. We’ve survived slow periods before, and like all others, this particular slowdown will resolve itself in a few months as new writers come on board and our current contributors return to their writing. However, it’s likely that we won’t be able to print issues as frequently as our readers have become accustomed to. I apologize for that, and ask for your patience. We have a number of stories that are in early draft stages, but it can take a long time for a work to go through our exhaustive peer critique process. Rest assured that I am shepherding stories along, and will compile them into issues and distribute them as often as is practical. And if you didn’t notice this issue’s two-week slippage, perhaps you won’t even notice the change at all; it seems more important to us because, having heard our readers ask for a more predictable schedule, we take our publication timeline very seriously.
In the meantime, enjoy this new issue. In it, we have a new standalone story from Jim Owens, one of DargonZine’s remaining founders. We also conclude the three-part “Triskele” series, an exemplary co-authored effort from our Texan contingent: P. Atchley and Rhonda Gomez. And finally, Dargon veteran Dafydd begins his two part “Talisman Eight”, resuming work on his immense “Talisman” epic after a well-deserved six-month hiatus.
And if you value the free stories that DargonZine brings you and want to help me encourage our writers to keep cranking out stories, please feel free to drop them an email. Their addresses are shown on nearly all Dargon stories, as well as on their bio pages on our Web site. I’m sure they’d welcome your encouragement!