I would like to start off by saying that after two days of deliberations and discussions with editors we have decided to upgrade the status of Fresh Pulp Magazine to “hiatus”. I wanted that to be stated upfront so we wouldn’t make folks read to the end to get that information.
But what does hiatus mean? It means that for the moment Fresh Pulp will continue as an entity.
I started Fresh Pulp Magazine when I was in college. It was just a poorly designed zine with odd reflections about cyberpunk books. What it evolved into was a leftist sci-fi magazine whose primary objective was to create a platform for marginalized voices. However, as I expressed in a tweet, it is impossible to create platforms that are not supported by the communities they intend to serve. Many have pointed out that a staggering %91 of all published novelists are white. We felt that it was important and opportune to address this. But there was a dissonance between the grievance and the will to redress it. This is not based on supposition. This is based on substantial conversations among ourselves and others in various writing communities.
Ultimately given this disconnect, I felt that I was only setting Fresh Pulp’s editors up for humiliation. The lack of support and engagement was a good indicator of the outcomes with Kickstarter. When I say engagement I don’t mean social media engagement. I mean engagement from those who previously committed to supporting us. I did not see how Fresh Pulp could move forward when the supposed stalwart core of our support had simply vanished.
After lengthy discussions with editors, the decision was made not to permanently shudder Fresh Pulp. I would like to share with you some of their thinking which I agree with.
The other editors have also expressed an unwillingness to admit that all of their hard work was in vain. Some 40 pieces of short fiction, 200 artists, 34 articles, and countless emails and phone calls have been curated and made on behalf of Fresh Pulp Magazine by its editors. Two of our editors have been translating fiction from their native tongues into English! Despite that the prospects for support have not significantly changed, these brave folks have insisted that we move forward anyway. Better to dash ourselves on the rocks of failure than slink quietly into the recesses of submission.
But it is not just a practical decision based on the work already done. Almost all of the editors have said that they believe in the project. And to my embarrassment, almost all have expressed faith in my vision and leadership. This is not something I can ignore. I cannot give less to Fresh Pulp, or the other editors than they have given. That alone has made the calculus simple enough to continue.
Additionally, there ARE people out there who have supported us. There are people who have given so generously and we must do everything we can to live up to their contributions and the faith those contributions represent. Finally, this project is bigger than a few people. It’s bigger than the editors, the contributors, or the content creators. To allow ourselves to be obstructed by a comparative few would be to allow a few to scuttle a project that some of us believe, has the potential for change.
So what happens next?
For the time being, we will re-centralize decision-making authority. Fresh Pulp Magazine will once again have an Editor in Chief.
Fortunately, we have decided that the pay model will remain as it is. Everyone gets paid an initial flat rate sum for each issue plus an equal share of “profits” for the life of the run of that issue.
We have also decided to rely less on crowdsourced resources. This will tighten an already tight belt but the cons of crowdsourced labor far exceed the pros. This is not to say that the public is ill-intentioned. It just puts us and them in awkward and uncomfortable positions and creates conditions for alienation and antipathy. It’s something we would rather just avoid.
We will be continuing, though at a somewhat reduced pace. We have no specific date for the release of the Kickstarter but we will keep everyone informed via social media. We hope this little stutter step has not put you off supporting us. And we sincerely hope you will continue to do so.
This iteration of Fresh Pulp was designed with the intent of being collectively owned and fully democratized. After a great deal of handwringing, we came to the conclusion that this was a mistake. I recognized that this particular structure exposed us to bad-faith actors. Collectives only work when the collective is working. Sure, the whole idea is that others can pick up where some encounter issues. The whole nature of maximum compassion lays in this idea. However, when more and more of a collective workforce is simply stagnant, it seizes up the entire operations. This is not an enterprise that you can just stick your toe in. Leftism isn’t something you dabble in or hedge on. Hedging guarantees failure because it operates on the expectation the project is going to fail. And when it invariably does, it’s just a form of confirmation bias. The kind that capitalists have relied upon for centuries.