With this last issue of March, my mind is already beginning to spin at the thought that the Piker Press is coming up on EIGHT years as a weekly ezine.
In that amount of time, I've gone from a shared 4 gig EMachine (with a fan that was so noisy it gave me a headache) to a private 4 gig Frankenstein monster (it was ugly and people laughed at it, but it was quiet); then wore out a laptop whose specs I can't remember (but is so slow even my 7-year-old grand daughter won't use it), got a "big" desktop PC that could easily handle Photoshop, wore it to a nubbin, and now have a new laptop and new desktop, the latter of which does not like to speak to the other computers in the household because it is a Windows 7 thing. (Snob.) To me, that sounds like a lot of computer miles.
We've been around long enough to even have some Frequently Asked Questions. Here are at least some of them:
Q: How did the Piker Press get started?
A: We began as a way to keep a handful of writers writing, because we had discovered writing, we fell in love with writing, and wanted to tell the world -- or at least each other -- that we loved writing. That core purpose hasn't changed. I love new authors submitting articles and stories and photos to the Press, but even more, I love the ones who enthusiastically submit tale after tale, their writing a celebration of creativity ... and no, we do not refer to them as "repeat offenders."
Q: Do you get a lot of submissions?
A: Yes! More than I ever imagined we would! We get short stories on a regular basis, several a week at least, and have begun looking at novel-length features to serialize.
Q: Who reads the submissions?
A: I do, because I love to read, and have the time to devote to a no-profit (yet) venture. Also, I'm a control freak with good grammar and spelling skills, which is why Madam Senior Editor felt comfortable changing the placard on the front of my desk from "Staffer" to "Managing Editor." Also, I like to occasionally hand on submissions to the Staff to look over for additional opinions.
Q: Do you have a preferred format for submissions?
A: Why yes, I do, thank you for all those who have asked. My preference, for ease of reading, is that the submissions be email attachments, in files that are .doc, .rtf, or (ugh) .txt (even Google cannot figure out how to read those pesky .docx documents). Single-spaced, with double break between paragraphs, in Times New Roman font 14. I like to print out anything longer than about 2000 words so that I can sit in a comfy chair and read, and this makes it a lot easier for me.
Q: Do you reject a lot of stories?
A: Not a lot, per se. Our aim is to encourage, not crush writing aspirations. Some material is just not suited to the venue; if a piece is not quite up to snuff but has promise, we send it back with suggestions to make it better.
Q: Can you put me in touch with an agent so that I can go print-published?
A: No, alas.
Q: Why do you have Amazon.com links on your site?
A: At this time, that's our only income to keep going. If someone clicks through on an Amazon.com ad, and then buys something, we get a small percentage of the sale. If lots and lots of people clicked through and then bought stuff, we might eventually be able to pay authors some stipend for stories after that. For now, the Amazon ads pay for about 1/4 what it costs to pay the webhost.
Q: You're an ezine. If I submit my story and it is accepted and appears on your site, I'm still not really published, am I?
A: Oh yes, all the stuff on our ezine is really and truly published, and counts as a publishing credit on your writer resume. Indeed, if you have a piece published in the Piker Press, you cannot present it elsewhere as an "unpublished" piece.
Q: What happened to the Comments, and how can I comment upon something I read?
A: Internet porn is something I do not want to see; unfortunately most of what flooded our comments was pornography from spammers. When the volume of pornographic spam became too much, and when commenters (non-porn ones) could not refrain from hurtful posts even when asked to do so, the Comments disappeared. I have no desire to see pornography, and as long-term readers of my blog know, I have no patience at all with people who cannot keep their critical diatribes* to themselves.
Commenting on a piece is easy: just email editor(at)pikerpress.com. Let us know if the comment is to be public, or simply sent to the author, and we'll handle it from the office. Alternatively, sign up for the free Piker forums and leave a comment there.
Q: Can I advertise my book on the Piker Press?
A: Certainly. We accept excerpts and will provide a link to the merchandise on the sidebar. We require no payment so long as an article accompanies the advertisement. This is why an author with a book to sell is well-advised to submit articles on a regular basis.
Q: You know, I only used to read the Piker Press for the comics.
A: Yeah, I know. We'll get them back as soon as we can.
Thanks for the questions, all you who have asked. And thank you for reading the Piker Press.
* A critical diatribe, in my opinion, is one that excessively nitpicks publicly things that should be addressed to me personally -- that would be mistakes in spelling and grammar that I, as editor, should have caught -- but instead is directed to the author, who is story-teller, not editor; and those critiques that hurt feelings, whose posters were asked to refrain from posting, but would not. If I ask someone not to speak to me, and the person continues to do so, it is not a conversation, it is an assault.