We could just start our own horror magazine
The Freddy Fenech column
While I remain for now in full-time employment – at least, until I hear in the next week or so – Horrified is taking up so much of my time that I am on the verge of being unable to do both.
Obviously, I can’t give up my day job as Horrified doesn’t pay the bills, so it’s either a case of shutting down the website, scaling back hugely, or…
…calling on the kindness of friends of Horrified.
Don’t worry, I’m not asking for money. I do have a Patreon page but I can understand people’s reticence to spend their hard-earned cash propping up someone they don’t know, especially with the current state of world affairs!
No, what I’d like to do is establish a Horrified Editorial Team. The website (and magazine – it’s coming. Honest!) already has a number of wonderful contributors which is growing all the time, and John Clewarth is doing a sterling job of looking after editorial duties for fiction, but I could really do with some skills in other areas.
I’m now in a position to review books and I’ve had several offers to help with reviews, which is great, but I need some help manning the inbox, editing copy, uploading content (I have a pretty precise way of doing it which might drive people mad, but it’s the best way to keep things relatively uniform), doing some SEO work and a number of other facets of website life.
I can’t pay myself (or anyone else a the moment) and the website makes next to nothing – I’ve tried the Amazon affiliate approach but that will take a long time to establish and requires a great deal more traffic – hence the need for some proper SEO, promotion of the website etc.
This isn’t a whine about how awful things are, I really think Horrified has the potential to be a really big website. I’ve been amazed and thrilled that it’s received nothing but a positive response so far and I can’t begin to thank the amazing work of all our contributors. It’s been brilliant.
But it’s getting bigger all the time and I need help to keep momentum going. So…here’s what I’m looking for:
- Features editor (film and television)
- Reviews Editor (build contacts with publicists for review purposes)
- Books Editor (build contacts with publishers, supply copies for reviewers)
- Columnists (fortnightly column for mainstream and indie British horror)
- SEO person (to help improve rankings fo Horrified and content)
- WordPress/Elementor editor (to help with uploads and maintenance of content)
- General contributors
Please understand, I’m under no illusions that I’m asking a lot (probably too much!) but if you can help, and do believe in what Horrified is trying to do, get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org for a chat.
It’s been a sad couple of days for the big cinema chains. In case you don’t already know, Cineworld announced the closure all of its theatres in the UK and US on an ostensibly temporary basis.
Odeon then followed suit by revealing that they’d only open at weekends for the foreseeable future. A number of high profile films have either been pushed back a number of times in the increasingly vain hope that cinemas will reopen permanently to a rabid public or have looked at alternatives such as streaming and VOD. Meanwhile the Prime Minister encourages people to go to the cinema while insisting people should keep apart for their own safety. Oxymoron indeed.
Eschewing, the government’s clarity-free thinking for a moment, the challenge for cinemas, even if they were to throw open their door again tomorrow, is that people are (and will continue to be) fearful of watching films in confined spaces with other members of the public. There’s an understandably palpable fear of other people and the potentially fatal, not to mention highly contagious, malady they may unwittingly be carrying.
It’s almost as if this entire nightmare was a horror film…
Of course, if the big cinema chains are dying, those poor indie picture houses have probably already flatlined. They may well rise again in the future, but sadly that means very little to those who have lost their livelihoods in 2020.
So, we’re all stuck at home. Again. Yes, it’s not a full lockdown but the alternatives in the current climate aren’t particularly appealing. Fortunately, depending upon how you view it, I’ve been doing some browsing to see what British Horror can be enjoyed across the various streaming platforms.
At present, Amazon Prime has a number of Hammer films, indies and so on available to watch for free (if you have Prime). Here’s a list to get you started…
- The Mummy
- The Curse of Frankenstein
- The Abominable Snowman
- The Curse of the Werewolf
- The Quatermass Xperiment
- X The Unknown
- Quatermass II
- Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter
- Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell
- Wake Wood
- Dr Terror’s House of Horrors
- Crooked House
- Haunted House of Horror
- Blood of the Vampire
- The Devil’s Men
- An English Haunting
- Horror Hospital
- Whistle and I’ll Come to You (2010)
- Let Us Prey
- Day of the Triffids (1964)
- The Cat and the Canary (1978)
- Eat Locals
- Hot Fuzz
- Shaun of the Dead
- Attack the Block
- The Borderlands
You may have seen over the past couple of days on social media that I’ve been asking a number of questions about possible avenues of commerce for the website.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a grand plan to make millions and flee for warmer climes (at least, not one that involves Horrified) but I’d dearly love to be able to do this on a more permanent basis. How wonderful it would be to pay contributors for their, quite frankly, Herculean efforts thus far. Everyone has been extraordinarily generous with their time, expertise and offers to become involved with the Horrified ‘project’ – yep, I said it.
Back to my point. I’ve posted a few questions asking what kind of Horrified(y) items you lovely people might be persuaded to part with your hard cash for and it seems that fridge magnets are a popular choice! I do intend to offer branded items at some point, but what I really want to do – and what remains the abiding intention for Horrified – is to keep moving forward with the celebration and championing of British horror.
With that in mind, it has to be something a bit more exciting than simply selling a Horrified mug. Yes, brand recognition is important (I can never quite shake off my marketing background) but it pales in comparison to the sheer, unadulterated pleasure of posting a new article from a contributor and reading the comments from those who’ve enjoyed it. The website has been a joy to edit and will continue to grow over time but the worst thing I could do at this stage is to start including annoying ad pop-ups, banner, etc., as it would ruin the reader’s experience which, even for some funds in the Horrified coffers, just isn’t worth it.
The answer, I hope, is a digital magazine. The title of this column was prophetic after all. I said prophetic – stop laughing at the back! If all goes to plan, the magazine will include exclusive content, stories, interviews and tons of other stuff. It may include some ads, though these will be relevant to British horror or they won’t feature at all. The main thrust of the mag, as with the website, is for contributors with a love of British horror to present their passion for the subject – be that writing, illustrations, and so on.
There’s no date for publication at the moment. I’m going to pull the magazine together slowly until I’m happy with it and then publish and see how things go. I’ve been really encouraged by the reaction to the proposed magazine and the offers of help from some very talented people. The cost is likely to be about £3.99 and I’m thinking about a subscription offer, though I’m still exploring this and it will depend entirely upon sales of the inaugural issue.
Ideally, I’d love a physical mag but at this point in time it’s just not feasible. Nonetheless, Horrified is definitely keen on potential submissions for the magazine, both non-fiction and fiction. If you’re interested in writing* something for the mag, please email email@example.com (please title the email Horrified Magazine so we know what your pitch is pertaining to).
Until next time.
Freddy – Editor (21st September 2020)
*At the risk of sounding like a broken record, all submissions are currently unpaid but I genuinely hope that we’ll be able to offer contributors something in 2021.
Is it too early for a follow-up post? Actually, yes. Probably. There are a couple of things I need to keep you up-to-date with.
First, I’ve posted a few tweets to give you, my dearest reader, a flavour of what’s coming up on Horrified. I am more than a little excited about some of the writers who are busying themselves with features on some of the cream of British horror. It’s no stretch to say that we’ve some writing coming your way that I can’t wait to read let alone publish. Also, without going into detail (as we’d literally be killed!), we’ve had enquires for one or two Horrified writers to work on some upcoming physical media releases, which is amazing and a real tribute to the work that we’ve been lucky enough to publish.
Some of the content I’ve been lucky enough to post so far has been pretty damn good, right? That’s absolutely no reflection on me; I am no more than the conduit for this stuff, but the quality of work has been more than I could possibly have hoped for. I’m loathe to highlight certain pieces of work for fear of leaving others out but if I may draw your attention to a few of the writers that have absolutely blown my mind with their brilliance. Emma Louise Platt’s wonderfully inciteful Duality in The Descent; Jane Nightshade’s piece on Frenzy (which just appeared one morning in my inbox, ready to go); and Caitlyn Downs feature on The Woman In Black, which has had a number of long-time fans of the film enthusing about Caitlyn’s new take. That’s not to mention Andrew Screen’s in-depth look at Nigel Kneale’s Beasts, Graham Williamson’ Tom Baker career retrospective and Andy Roberts’ deepest of dives into The Flesh-Eating Curiosities of Eurocine. Agh – do you see how difficult it is to leave anyone out?! So much good stuff. Do check out all of their writing if you haven’t already.
It’s not just British horror film and television writing – the Stories page has been a brilliant addition too. I’m happy to report that, not only are people reading the stories (I confess, I wasn’t 100% sure the page would receive many visits) but you’ve been commenting, reviewing and sharing them on social media too. I’ve definitely been unnerved by some of the stories that have found their way to Horrified such as John Clewarth’s Beyond the Horizon which proper freaked me out!
Speaking of John, I’m very happy to announce that he’s offered to help edit the Stories section of the website. He’s a fantastic writer and will be a wonderful fiction editor for Horrified. If you’re keen to submit some short horror fiction, email John at firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s very nice. Promise. We’re still going to be championing new and emerging writers, so do continue to send your work in (fiction to John, everything else to email@example.com). By the way, all the fiction we currently have in our schedule will definitely be published so don’t worry that your hard work might go missing.
Finally, I’m back to work later this week on a full-time basis (boo!) so production may slow a little to an article every two-to-three days, at least until I can get the balance right. With that in mind, though, I’m thinking about getting the Horrified Patreon page into shape. I know, I know, everyone does it and we’re all desperately trying to cling onto our jobs so handing over any of our hard-earned cash is a bit of a stretch for even the best-paid (well, maybe not the best-paid). However, I am planning to build in some tiers with exclusive content, maybe a digital magazine version of Horrified, some branded swag, etc., so watch out for it and if you feel so inclined, maybe this Horrified thing will take off.
Which leaves me with one final note of thanks. Without you reading, commenting, sharing and encouraging me (and the writers), Horrified wouldn’t be possible. I love receiving emails with pitches and submissions and it’s the greatest feeling publishing a new article or story. It takes a bit of work to get them uploaded, source images, get the formatting right and so on because they’re all completely unique (there are no crappy bog-standard blog uploads around here, no Sir!). But it’s worth every second I spend doing it. I think I might love you all a bit.
I’m not crying, I’ve just got something in my eye!
Until next time.
Freddy – Editor (15th September 2020)
Right, I thought I’d give this a try. Essentially, I thought I’d write the type of brief intro that editors often prefix magazines with.
The only real difference being, I’m going to do it as a kind of bi-weekly column and see where it goes, if it works, whether anyone reads it or whether I should just stop waffling and get on with my day job. Oh, and it’s not exactly brief. Sorry.
So, let me first explain how Horrified got here. A few months ago, with the collapse of Fangoria following the Cinestate sexual misconduct scandal still a hot topic, I somewhat stupidly posted this on my personal Twitter page:
I was joking. Sort of.
A number of conversations later, however, it dawned on me just what a preposterous proposition this was. Yes, it took A NUMBER of conversations for this to occur. I’m naturally a big thinker (some say naïve, but I just hit them with my Star Wars figures) and tend to worry less so about minutiae. Plus, I had grand visions of a glossy magazine that would outsell Scream Magazine, Fangoria, etc. A really inclusive, beautiful website with writers pitching incredible articles and traffic through the roof, a podcast, film production, and so on….and so on.
Oh, also I imagined handing in my notice at work as I went full-time on this thing. That was, and still is, my favourite daydream.
Once I got over these delusions of grandeur, I started to really think about what might actually possible. A website seemed like the most straightforward solution, but I’d need content and since I’m neither a particularly good writer nor quick at turning around articles, and I knew I didn’t have the budget to pay anyone, I’d need to rely on the kindness of strangers. And how you responded!
Say what you like about social media but building the Horrified name without any sort of product (a website, at the very least) would not have been possible without Twitter. 99% of the writers that came forward did so because they’d seen the Horrified posts asking – practically begging – for pitches and submissions.
At the time, I wasn’t even sure which path the website would take. I knew I wanted to cover British horror, initially because most horror websites seem to focus on the biggest films and the biggest stories, which usually results in the lion’s share of content discussing US-made films. Of course, this is completely understandable as the subject matter is popular, meaning plenty of willing potential readers.
But I didn’t want Horrified to get lost in the white noise and become another ‘also-ran’ horror website. There was no way to out-muscle the likes of Bloody Disgusting or Dread Central but what I could do was look closer to home and instead celebrate European horror. Yet, even this seemed too broad and it became clear that to make this work I’d need to really refine the Horrified’s outlook. Hence, British horror.
Now, I love world horror. I’m a fan of everything from Korean zombies to Universal monsters to the Golden Age of the Slasher movies. But I adore British horror. Give me Ghost Stories for Christmas, Nigel Kneale’s Beasts, Ghostwatch, The Blood on Satan’s Claw, Twins of Evil, Dead of Night (I could go on…) and I’m absolutely, deliriously, joyously happy. Therefore, it wasn’t much of a stretch for me to decide to focus solely on British horror, albeit with the occasional nod to horrors further afield – just to stretch our legs, you understand.
And so, with the Twitter page live, I started to build a following and, although I’ve been loathe to use the term before because I refused to believe it existed, something of a community. It wasn’t long before I’d received a number of submissions – and I have to say at this point, I’m so grateful to those who decided to chance their arm before they had any idea whether the website would ever actually exist – followed by one or two emails enquiring whether I had any plans to publish short horror stories. Honestly, I hadn’t given it a moment’s thought until then, but I’m glad I made the decision to incorporate a Stories page as we’ve had some absolutely brilliant stories through and I hope we have many more in the future.
I worked away quietly on the website at night while my family slept soundly; my wife delighted not to have me snoring in her ear – and tried my best not to swear and throw my laptop through the window on numerous occasions. Eventually, it was in the kind of shape that I thought gave a it a sheen of professionalism, rather than the look of a fan site. Yes, I do suffer from delusions of grandeur(!) as previously mentioned, but I genuinely want Horrified to the look the part as well as be a huge success. There’s no reason that it shouldn’t grow as long as we keep providing you, the reader, with quality articles, features, stories and more. We simply wish to continue celebrate and champion British horror.
Horrified will do our best to publish, give a voice to and champion anyone who wishes to try their hand at writing about their passions. If we had tenets, this would absolutely be one. Along with, ‘All gifts grateful received’ and, probably, ‘Bring beer’.
That’s more than enough for now – my next column will feature more British horror and less waffle. But I can promise nothing at this stage 🙂
I hope we’re doing you proud so far.
Freddy Fenech* – Editor
P.S. Rest in peace, Diana Rigg. An absolute titan. Theatre of Blood and Detectorists are two huge favourites at Horrified House.
*Incidentally not my real name.
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