Vision: A Resource for Writers
Lazette Gifford, Editor
Vision@sff.net
Holly Lisle's Vision

Website Review:

PROJECT PULP

By Justin Stanchfield

2002, By Justin Stanchfield

One of the nicest things about speculative fiction, something missing in most other genres, is the thriving small press -- those magnificent labors of love most of us cut our authorial teeth in. Literally dozens of small press magazines, anthologies, and chapbooks, both paper format and electronic, provide some of the freshest, most original science fiction, fantasy, and horror to be found. But keeping track of so many different publications, especially in the mercurial world of the small press, can be overwhelming.

Enter Project Pulp. (http://www.blindside.net/smallpress/ )

Project Pulp bills itself as "the .COM of the small press, an online bookstore for the small press, featuring magazines, novels/novellas, chapbooks, anthologies, collections, and all sorts of printed material, as well as some art and indie music," and it certainly lives up to its promise. It's a site where writers can browse the often daunting catalog of niche markets, ranging from those printed on home computers to glossy, color illustrated magazines that give any of the major markets a run for their money. 

The brainchild of Jon Hodges, himself a multi-talented writer, editor, and one of the nicest, most professional people you are likely to encounter, Project Pulp allows readers and writers access to the bulk of the small press markets. Both current and back issues are listed, along with brief synopses and occasionally reader comments. It is not a market guide, nor does it claim to be. But as an indicator of the health of any given market it can be invaluable. Instead of hunting through endless websites, most of them infrequently (if at all) updated, here a writer can view hundreds of issues in one easy to access site. Looking for a specific issue, or scanning for certain authors? This is the place to do it. 

The site itself is relatively straightforward. From the main page, links direct the user to the other portions of the site, as do a pull-down index and search engine. Newest additions are listed in side-bars with more contact links at the bottom. The various pages are somewhat slow to load, though not unnecessarily so given the amount of information displayed. Follow the link marked 'Absolutes,' for instance, and you will be taken to the first of three pages of small press periodicals, arranged alphabetically. The listings themselves consist of a short description followed by the number of issues available and thumbnails of the cover art. Smaller links to each issue give the full table of contents, larger cover art, and pricing information. (The individual pages, by the way, open very quickly, even on slow machines like mine.) Banner adds are confined to the far top of the pages, all of which promote various publications or spec-fic related websites. All in all, the layout is conventional and simple to navigate, with no surprises. 

Ordering from Project Pulp is likewise simple, though a little unconventional for anyone used to major booksellers such as Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble. A small link at the bottom of each listing takes you to an order form asking for your name, email, and the product you are purchasing. A second link takes you to another page listing every issue available. Check the boxes, fill in the number of copies and type of payment you will be using, and then submit the form. The rest of the purchase is handled via email, negating any need to give credit card information over an open connection. I ordered a back issue of Challenging Destiny using PayPal and completed the entire transaction in less than ten minutes, scarcely longer than a recent purchase from Amazon.com, given load times. Payment can be made via check, money order, credit card, or PayPal. Again, no surprises. 

Other links and pages offer places for prospective customers to leave comments, suggest publications or bands, or buy advertising. There is also a banner exchange program if you are interested in having your writer-related site displayed. Given that the site is maintained by only three people -- reviewers Noel K. Hannan and Forrest Agguire, and of course Jon Hodges -- the amount of material available is nothing short of astounding. 

Is Project Pulp all inclusive? No. There are still small press magazines and anthologies that aren't listed. Is it easy to use? Yes. Does it fill a much-needed niche in spec-fic publishing? Absolutely! The next time you're in the market for some out-of-the-way reading material, trying to find a back issue of your favorite magazine, or just wanting to study a market you're thinking of submitting to, be sure to check this one out. 

 http://www.blindside.net/smallpress/