Welcome to issue 3 of Shadows & Tall Trees. Very pleased you are still around for the ride.
Issue 2, like its predecessor, issue 1, was a critical success. With any new venture, it takes some time to build a base of support. For those of you have supported the journal from the beginning—whether through contributions, purchasing the journal, or simply by spreading the word—I thank you very much. I still need your help.
As of this writing, sales of issue 2 haven’t met expectations. I should learn to temper my expectations. If the journal is to survive in its present incarnation, though, I will need to sell more copies. So, if you’ve enjoyed the journal and think it’s an undertaking worth preserving, please mention it on your blogs, forums, newsfeeds, etc. Heck, even mention it to me. I would really appreciate it. That said, issue 4 is well under way, and should see a release at the end of the year.
This gives rise to the question of subscriptions. In fact, 2 people have subscribed to the journal, but it isn’t something I’ve pondered at length. Perhaps a subscriber base is what is needed. If you are interested in a subscription, please do get in touch. Your thoughts on the matter are encouraged and very welcome.
My main purview here at S&TT is short fiction. A well-wrought horror story is a potent thing, lingering in the mind long after the tale has ended. To that end I hope what is offered in these pages will leave an impression. When I read Gary McMahon’s contribution, Kill all Monsters, it left an impression. It had echoes of Dennis Etchison’s marvellous The Scar. When I queried Gary, he did indeed confirm that it was an homage to Etchison’s tale. It’s all McMahon, though. Homage and not pastiche.
As well as publishing horror fiction, I want to bring your attention to other sources of important and interesting short horror fiction. So, each issue we will continue to feature one major book review of an anthology or short story collection. With issues published 9—12 months apart, the reviews may not be as timely as they could be. So I will try to choose a significant book that has had a fairly recent release. This issue I review A Book of Horrors, edited by Stephen Jones. Everything reviewed in the journal, books or movies, is from material that was paid for, not sent in free for review. It’s a small but important distinction, I believe.
What is a fair price, and what is something worth? With the rising shift in popularity to eBooks, this is an interesting question. It’s worth whatever you pay for it, obviously. Yet each day on social media websites I see dozens of new writers debasing themselves by offering their eBooks for free. Why? I can only surmise that they believe it will interest readers in their other work, and that it will lead to sales. There was a time, perhaps, when this might have been true—though there’s no real proof, either, that it was. It sends the message that you do not value your work, that it isn’t worth anything. The unsophisticated reader will just move on to the next free offer. Curiously, I do not see these same authors offering traditional physical copies of their work for free, but with relative ease anyone can fling an eBook out into the digital wilderness. With most of these free “efforts” you get exactly what you paid for.
A ruinous by-product of this digital glut is that readers are now accustomed to receiving goods for free, or for very little money. This forces legitimate publishers to cut their prices. In turn, this affects small publishers like myself—where margins are very tight to begin with—to follow suit. It is a bubble that is sure to burst.
Incidentally, the copy of A Book of Horrors reviewed in this issue was an eBook, and it cost the same as the trade paperback. I’m okay with that. Was it worth the price? Read on and find out.