We have decided, based on user feedback, to make our Cosmic Horror Contest free. This means many things, which are detailed below.
The first is that anyone who paid for entry on PayPal will be offered a refund. You can decline this refund as a way of helping us fundraise, but just know it will not affect your standing in the contest.
Next, we’d like to clarify that we’re keeping all the other rules for the contest in place. Still under a thousand words. Still Cosmic Horror themed. Still a May 16th deadline (though we understand it’s short notice. We have a hard deadline though, as mid-May is going to be a wild ride for us). And yes, the winner will still receive $100 and publication.
We’d like to point out that this also means we’re now going to place ourselves in the ever-sought-after “hurting financially” category of lit mags. This magazine has, so far, been funded mostly through our pockets. For what it’s worth, I’m a public school teacher, and each issue costs around $900 (which almost entirely goes to paying the artists). Our family is welcoming our third in a few weeks, so once school starts we’ll be paying about $750 a week in daycare expenses. Therefore, as it stands, we cannot continue with the status quo. This isn’t any fault of the writers, readers, or followers of this magazine. Publishing is a harsh business. We started a magazine, and then the ground shifted under our feet. Things rolled out a lot slower than we expected advertising-wise, Twitter Blue threw a wrench in many of our plans, and we didn’t know how imperative it was to make it to multiple LitCons in a given year.
In lieu of this fundraiser, we’ll be holding a Kickstarter this summer. My slushers gave me the feedback that we really couldn’t reach a lot of people with a writing contest as a fundraiser. The topic was really niche, the magazine is still not very well known, and writers refuse to pay entry fees (understandably). But a kickstarter will give us a better idea of who our actual readership is, as opposed to writers who merely find my submission guidelines politely hilarious.
One last thing. With a new kid joining our family, I had originally planned on putting The Maul on hiatus for one reading period. So we planned on missing our fall reading period, our winter release, and we were gonna wait until January of 2024 to spin the wheels again. Babies basically take up most of my brain space when they’re under 3 months. And I enjoy spending time with my kids, and I didn’t want the slush pile to take me away, specifically once the fall semester started and Samantha and I were running around like chickens with our heads chopped off (apologies to the vegans in the audience). Now, with this financial situation, we may have to go on hiatus for longer. We have one round of authors to pay in July, and then after that, I’m not sure how tight money is going to be in my house. I just might not be able to pay full rate. And I refuse to pay under the SFWA rate. We’re pro-union here at The Maul, and I do not wish to attempt to put that toothpaste back in the tube (again, apologies to the vegans).
We hope this all works out. We look forward to reading your amazing Cosmic Horror stories. We hope people read this magazine and grow to love the stories in it as we have. And we hope to stick around for another writing contest next spring.