Earlier this year, I had mentioned I had done some consulting for Apex Publications, which is the parent company of Apex Book Company, Apex Magazine and The Zombie Feed. A little over sixty days have passed since implementing a new strategy, and I all can say is “Whooo-hooo!”
In order to make the magazine soluble, I recommended amping up the subscription-based model and holding a drive for new subscribers in January. The tagline was simple. “New Year. New Stories.” This drive was a huge success and made possible by dedicated readers, newsletter subscribers, and fans of short fiction. Apex exceeded its goal and has continued that momentum. The magazine that wasn’t profitable has now broken even and there are signs of additional growth. What’s more, Jason is now able to start the arduous task of improving the magazine for existing subscribers and incorporating promotional aspects for the book line that provide value for readers. Previews or excerpts, for example, is something I just mentioned to Jason earlier this week. Instead of placing an ad, magazine subscribers can read the first chapter or two of a select Apex title in addition to the stories they read. That way, they get something new to read that allows them to make a decision whether or not they want to proceed with a sale.
The other thing that’s happened, is that I’ve seen an amazing groundswell of support from the authors who are publishing through Apex. The Apex blog has taken on a more focused tone; these talented individuals are talking about the things readers want to read — and the stats are backing it up, too.
These are nascent moments, but positive enough to spark Jason’s renewed enthusiasm. Unbridled excitement is an awesome thing to see, because when it’s unleashed it’s contagious. In other words, I coached him up front on what to watch out for and let him loose (so to speak). Now Jason is able to take off because he has a firm grasp on the core business, has seen a positive effect from the changes that were made, and he understands where he needs to go. So much so, that he’s planning long-term and releasing new things with a proper launch.
Businesses thrive when they have a strong core business with some amount of flexibility. It is important to be able to change-on-the-fly, but it’s also important to have long-term, measurable goals. Apex has all of these things and more.
I have no doubt that there are big things in this publisher’s future. What’s happened these past few months has been necessary for this small business to refocus its efforts, but there is a lot of room for growth.
Just in time for Spring. Yay!