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We launched the first issue of Strange Horizons at the 2000 WorldCon in Chicago with one of our now-famous tea parties. In the early months of the magazine's operation, some of us on the staff got into the habit of thinking of ourselves as the Little Magazine That Could. Our entire staff was volunteer and part-time, we didn't have a physical office or regular real-world meetings, and we were entirely dependent on donations for our funding. A lot of people told us that it wasn't a model that could work, and maybe they had a point. The thing is, it did work. We kept doing it, and we kept doing it well, and people started to pay attention.

Three years have gone by since that first tea party. We've published articles on cutting-edge science, interviews with some of the major names in the field, and literary analysis of speculative fiction. Our reviewers have introduced our readers to new books by established authors, new books by up-and-coming authors, anime both popular and obscure, and a whole range of e-books and small-press publications that they might not have come across otherwise. By publishing original speculative poetry every week, we've become one of the largest and most reliable venues for poetry in the genre.

In the fiction department, we've exceeded even our own best expectations. Not only have we published original fiction from past winners of the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards, but we've also published original fiction from more new authors over the past three years than any other professional publication in the field. Stories published in Strange Horizons have been reprinted in most of the Year's Best anthologies in speculative fiction, and just this past year a story originally published in Strange Horizons was nominated for a Nebula Award. In 2002, Strange Horizons received a Hugo nomination for Best Website. On top of all of that, our readership has been steadily growing, and we've had the incredible pleasure of bringing you fiction from some of the most exciting new voices in the field.

No matter how far we've come, though, in many ways we're still the Little Magazine That Could. Our entire staff is still volunteer and part-time. We still don't have a physical office or regular meetings. Most importantly, as a non-profit and free-to-the-public magazine, we still rely on donations and grants for our funding. Individual donations from our readers make up a significant (and steadily growing) portion of our annual budget; we couldn't continue without that ongoing reader support. In recognition of how important you all are to our continuing existence, we're doing something a little different with our fundraising drives.

We've always considered our readers to be members of the Strange Horizons community, and starting this month we're offering you the chance to formalize that relationship. Everyone who donates $25 or more will get a special Strange Horizons membership card, featuring original art by the Hugo-nominated artist Frank Wu. The laminated wallet-sized cards are designed to be collectible, and every year we'll have a new design, so you should make sure to get this one while it's available. Larger packages come with larger gift donations. For example, we're particularly pleased to be able to offer the Small Press Packet for donations of $100 or more. The Small Press Packet contains copies of zines and chapbooks from some of the most exciting and interesting new voices in speculative fiction today, and I hope you'll check it out. Our highest donor level has an extra-special gift -- I'll be hand-knitting a scarf for each reader who donates $500 or more. Whatever level you choose, though, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that you're helping to support one of the best speculative fiction magazines around.

This fundraising drive will run through the entire month of November, and each week there will be a new editorial explaining the importance of your donations to Strange Horizons. In next week's editorial I'll talk a little bit about different funding models for online publications and why we've chosen to rely on donations rather than on advertising or subscriptions; the week after that I'll be telling you more about the specifics of how we use your money. The final November editorial will go into our vision for the magazine and why we think what we're doing here is important.

These first three years have been wonderful, but they've just been the beginning. We hope you'll keep working with us to make the future of Strange Horizons even better.

 

Copyright © 2003 Susan Marie Groppi

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Susan Marie Groppi is an Associate Editor at Strange Horizons.



Susan Marie Groppi is a historian, writer, and editor. She was a fiction editor at Strange Horizons from 2001 to 2010, and Editor-in-Chief from January 2004 to December 2010.
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