by Michael D. Pederson
The identity crisis continues. Or, just possibly, it’s finally been laid to rest. Since, the beginning of the zine—ten years now!—we’ve been plagued with the question of what type of publication we should be classified as.
My intention from the start was to publish a fanzine. The first issue of Nth Degree was sixteen pages with a beautiful four-color, glossy cover. People immediately said, “This doesn’t look like a fanzine.” I spent about a year insisting that modern design tools and cheap print co-ops meant that it was possible to print a professional looking zine for around the same costs as photocopying. Besides, I was a professional graphic designer, I wanted my zine to reflect that. Eventually, I caved and took a closer look at the Hugo rules concerning zines.
At the time, the definition of a semiprozine was:
Any generally available non-professional publication devoted to science fiction or fantasy which by the close of the previous calendar year has published four (4) or more issues (or the equivalent in other media), at least one (1) of which appeared in the previous calendar year, and which in the previous calendar year met at least two (2) of the following criteria: (1) had an average press run of at least one thousand (1000) copies per issue, (2) paid its contributors and/or staff in other than copies of the publication, (3) provided at least half the income of any one person, (4) had at least fifteen percent (15%) of its total space occupied by advertising, (5) announced itself to be a semiprozine.
We published four issues a year, had a minimum print run of 1000 copies, did not pay in other than copies, provided no income, and had around 15% advertising (much of it, though, in trade). We just barely qualified. The definition of a fanzine was basically, “Does not qualify as a semiprozine.” So we announced ourselves to be a semiprozine.
As a result, we ended missing out on the Hugo ballot year after year because our nominations were always split between semiprozine and fanzine. If you added them up, we usually had enough nominations to get on the ballot.
But that’s where we were. Next issue I’ll talk more about where we are now. Now, sit back and enjoy our very first themed issue… Superheroes!