Apex Magazine: Revive the Drive! Interview with Editor Lesley Conner

I’m coming in at the tail end, but I’m thrilled to be able to do my small part in helping Apex Magazine’s Revive the Drive! I’m even more excited to have Lesley Conner stop by and answer some questions about the campaign, and I couldn’t be more appreciative as I know Lesley is a super busy mom-editor-writer-Girl Scout leader-amazing human! So without further ado, please welcome Lesley back to the blog:

Welcome back to Books, Bones & Buffy! Now I have the challenge of asking you all new questions;-) Let’s start with an easy one. Can you tell us about the “Revive the Drive” campaign?

Thanks for having me back, Tammy! I love when Apex gets the chance to be here at Books, Bones & Buffy!

The Revive the Drive campaign came around because we cut short our normal annual subscription drive. We typically run our subscription drives in the fall. In November, after the election, we decided to pull the plug early even though we had not yet met our goal. It wasn’t the right time to be pushing people for money.

We knew we would have to revive that drive, because even though we chose to cut it short, magazines such as Apex cost money to run. The Revive the Drive campaign is our way of bringing back the drive that was cut short to finish raising the money needed to fund 2017, plus to help us work toward other goals that include paying authors and artists more and hiring an associate editor.

Our goal for the drive is to raise $10,000. At this moment we are still quite a ways off from that, but I’m optimistic.

I understand there are some cool things that readers can buy directly from the Revive the Drive store. I briefly checked out what you have to offer, and I’m going to be doing some shopping very soon. Hey, you even have a COFFEE option! That’s such a great idea, can you tell us some of your favorite things in the store?

We do have coffee! Yo Wake Up! by Nate’s Coffee to be exact! If you’ve never had the pleasure of drinking a cup of Yo Wake Up! then you are missing out. It is amazing!

We have a lot of really awesome things in the Revive the Drive store. Subscriptions to Apex Magazine obviously, but also signed books, art prints, and short story critiques. At the moment we have critiques by Alex Livingston and Rich Larson available for only $100 a piece! For anyone looking to improve their writing, this is a wonderful opportunity to get tips from pros!

Probably most exciting are the original proofed manuscripts of The Lost Level and Return to the Lost Level donated by author Brian Keene! Each manuscript is signed by the author and also comes with a signed letter of authenticity. These are true collectibles and Brian Keene’s generosity in donating them to our drive blows me away.

Honestly, I would suggest going and browsing the Revive the Drive store. We have items to fit everyone’s budget, from $3 up to $350, so even if you’re saying you can’t afford a subscription right now, maybe you can afford to do something smaller. It all helps us get that much closer to our goal.

Just some of the items you can purchase in the store: Personalized post card from Lesley Conner; SIGNED NOS4A2 by Joe Hill; Nate’s Coffee; and an Apex Mystery Box! Go buy stuff!

You’ve got some very tempting stretch goals in your campaign. Can you tell us about some of them?

Every year through the subscription drive we fund and publish an AMAZING double issue for the January issue. We start with our basic issue—fiction, a nonfiction article, a reprint, interviews—and through the drive unlock even more! This year, because we have such a long lead time before the January 2018 issue, we reached for the stars when lining up original fiction to unlock through the drive. Readers can unlock new original fiction by Tade Thompson, Delilah S. Dawson, Cherie Priest, and Jacqueline Carey!

We also have tier levels that are targeted more towards writers and artists, raising the rates that we pay each month.

We also tried to bring some fun and some to do some good in the community with our tiers. The first tier we unlocked ($500) we ran a Cutest Apex Mascot contest, running my Goldendoodle puppy Oz against Jason’s cat Pumpkin and Jason and I both made donations to the Humane Society. At $1000 we donated story critiques to the Con or Bust auction and will be donating a membership to Imaginarium for this coming October. Later in the drive—at $6000—we’ll donate a membership to ConFusion to Con or Bust.

Jason and I spent a lot of time debating what our tier levels should be. I think they are all amazing and I hope we get to unlock each and every one of them!

Apex is unique because you offer not only a digital “magazine,” but you have a book publishing division as well. How easy or hard is it to keep both of these going?

I’m not going to lie, it isn’t easy. Juggling the magazine with book releases is real feat of time management, a skill in which Jason and I do not excel. When looking at the calendar, we are always sure that we can accomplish EVERYTHING—a book every month, the magazine, promotions, marketing, running drives like this one, our annual flash fiction contest, and so much more—it all looks so easy when we’re planning and writing things into the empty spaces on calendars. And if all we did was work, then we probably could get it all done easily, but we both have families and other outside interests. You lose day here for a doctor appointment and there for a field trip. Another couple a month are eaten up with errands that can’t be avoided. Before either of us knows it deadlines are crashing down on us and we’re scrambling to meet them.

It’s stressful and maddening and we promise that we won’t do it again.

Then it comes time to plan out the year and we again overschedule ourselves. We want to bring the Apex readers all the amazing books we have scheduled as soon as possible! This is why one goal for the Revive the Drive campaign is to be able to hire an associate editor to help out. Jason and I could definitely use another body in the Apex offices!

What are some of your most anticipated titles that will be coming out in 2017?

Oh my goodness, we have so many amazing things planned this year! Sequels to both The Lost Level by Brian Keene and King of the Bastards by Brian Keene and Steven Shrewsbury will come out.

We have an amazingly fun young adult novel called Mars Girls by Mary Turzillo coming in the next month or two.

After that is a creepy horror novel by Daniel Russell that mixes our obsession with reality TV with demons called Entertaining Demons.

Then later this year, we are lucky enough to be publishing Damien Angelica Walters’s second short story collection, Cry Your Way Home. Sing Me Your Scars is one of my all-time favorite collections, so I cannot wait to dig into this one!

And more! Of course! We have a lot more planned. All of it awesome and exciting!

And finally, here’s an easy question: Why should readers click this link and check out the Revive the Drive campaign?

Jason and I pride ourselves in publishing amazing dark science fiction, fantasy, and horror in each issue of Apex Magazine and releasing it online for free so that everyone—no matter what their situation—can read and enjoy it. But doing so costs money—authors and artists to pay, website upkeep, advertising. That’s why subscribers and drives like Revive the Drive are so important. They give us the funds to continue bringing our readers amazing stories. Buying a subscription or one of the many items in our Revive the Drive store shows Jason and I that readers value the work that we do every month, that they believe the stories we’re publishing, the nonfiction, the interviews are all worthwhile and something that we should continue pursuing.

Plus, we have a lot of cool goodies that you can get for yourself and help us out at the same time!

Thank you Lesley! I’m headed over to the Revive the Drive page right now to do some shopping, and I hope you guys check out the fantastic things that Apex has to offer. But don’t wait too long: Revive the Drive ends April 17th.

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Posted April 11, 2017 by Tammy in Interview / 3 Comments


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