The literary world is in a strange phase of transition, and we are not talking about just the move from traditional, print publishing to the digitised, online version. That, to us, is just another manifestation of the old order changing, yielding place to a different, and often exciting, new. For the reader in this digital world, access to books has significantly improved, and having a personal library is no longer constrained by the availability of space at home. For the author, the internet has pushed boundaries to the infinite, and more and more writers are making a name for themselves; writers who, in the older world, might never have been published given the limited number of available avenues. In some ways, the publishing industry has now been liberated, democratized, where it is only the reader who decides what is good and what is not.
However, as with all things new, there are also pitfalls to the current model; the largest being the plethora of stories and novels being self published. The self publishing model imposes no quality check, and whilst this is not necessarily a bad thing, what it often does is to bury quality works by genuinely talented writers in a sea of mediocre writing. The writer, as any other artist, needs validation; not from friends, relatives or workplace associates but from those who routinely absorb literature and value good writing. And that validation is mostly missing in the online world.
And that is where Fabula Press comes in. We are a team of literary enthusiasts, no more, and no less, with a single mission – to encourage literary talents to achieve their full potential. With that objective in mind, we had started the online magazine Quill & Ink back in 2001, and had built a reasonable reputation of identifying and nurturing good writing. However, after over a decade of running the magazine we felt that things were not really moving fast enough – we were spending most of our time trying to keep pace with the rapid changes in the online marketplace. Finally, in 2011, we decided to wind up the magazine. The dream to build a reputed, respected platform for writers struggling to find their feet remained, however, and after much deliberation, in 2014 Quill & Ink appeared in a new guise, that of Fabula Press. We also moved from our earlier model of charge no fee, pay no author to the current model of fee based contests. Yes, we are often asked that if we profess to have such noble objectives, why should we charge a fee to read submissions? And no, the answer is not ‘because our time is also valuable’. Yes, we do value our time, but reading stories seems to us a good investment of that time. However, we look at the fees as an author-supporting-author model where Fabula Press merely acts as a facilitator. All our revenues from the fees go into the award monies and administrative costs; the founders and the editorial team do not take any share of the earnings and are, at times, required to dip into their own reserves to keep their promises to the contest entrants. Ours is one of the few contests where every published author is paid, and we have been increasing the payouts in line with the increase in submissions – from a small sum of USD400 as total cash awards in 2014, we are now looking at spending over USD5000 annually in contest payouts alone.
And this not where things will end. If you have been following us for some time, you will know that we were already planning some changes to our entire model in 2018, just before we were forced to take a long break after our website was hijacked (hence the new website www.pressfabula.com), and at that time we were not only considering increasing the prize monies, but also to set up an online community where authors can provide feedback, criticism, and support to each other. Whilst we have achieved our first objective, we are now considering ways and means to design the latter. That is a promise yet to be fulfilled, and and as you would know, at Fabula Press we have always lived up to our promises, however large or small.
The future will be exciting. For us, and for you!
~ Anirban & Arnab