Involutions FAQ

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Q: Is Involutions a Blog?

No. Involutions is a "Zine".

Q: Is Involutions an Ezine?

At this point, not strictly. Though we use a web site as a delivery and promotion mechanism, Involutions is designed as a magazine. We offer a complete PDF file for download. The typesetting has been designed to allow high quality printing as an A5 format paperback.

Q: So... it's a web site with a bunch of unpublished stories?

No... it's a web site with a bunch of unpublished stories. How does this differ from other web sites with bunches of unpublished stories? I can't say because I haven't visited all of them. However, in the case of Involutions we have undertaken a process of proofreading, editing, and revision which reflects that of a real book. Or at least what a bunch of amateur writers, most of whom have never published a book, imagine is involved in such an effort. Peer review is an important component of the process. Involutions arose from the critiquing process embodied in many of the writing groups we frequent.

Q: What do you offer the reader?

Besides our sweat, blood, and toil... for free?

Q: All three of those commodities are fairly cheap these days. Now if there was oil involved...

We offer a set of complete, carefully proofread stories. You may or may not like them, but they have been carefully prepared and edited.

Q: Is Involutions Free?

Yes. Any user may download the entire PDF version of each volume.

Q: Is it like open source software?

Yes and No. Because there is no real dichotomy between source and binaries here, it is not a meaningful comparison. The fundamental difference between our approach and that of (most) open source software is that we forbid modification.

Q: What is the "Contract with the Reader?"

We're glad you asked. This is the agreement that you, the reader, make with us, the publisher. It can be viewed here, and a summary is provided in the inside rear flap of the magazine itself.

Q: Can I obtain a printed version of the ezine?

Yes. Download it and print it. Seriously. We designed it with that in mind. Detailed instructions are provided here.

Q: Can I obtain an "official" printed version from you?

Not at this time. However, we are currently exploring options to provide this through various print-on-demand services. Because Involutions is run by volunteers, we do not have the time to manage the business aspect directly. If you are conversant in these matters and wish to get involved, we would be delighted to discuss the matter.

Q: I'm a publisher and found the story (insert name) so moving that I quit my job and now preach the gospel to all who will listen.

If you quit your job then you're not much use to us as a publisher. We'd like to donate to your cause, but forgot our wallets home today.

Q: Ok, I still have my job but found your work comparable to (insert famous author). Can I include it in my magazine/book/anthology?

Possibly. The works' respective authors retain all rights, so the matter is at their discretion. They may be willing to let you use the piece in question or may have other offerings of interest. Most are new to the game and interested in seeing their works in print, so if you're a real publisher and the genre and style are a good match, you'll probably find our writers receptive.

Q: I'm a college student. Can I use your work for class?

Er... No. That's called plagiarism and is frowned upon by almost one Ivy League school. If you're any good you should feel free to write your own piece. If not, then refer to this as "sourcing" and advertise it as a sign of initiative. You may have a fine career in journalism or politics ahead of you.

Q: I mean, I'd like to refer to your work or quote it. Can I do that?

Certainly. Even without our consent, fair use laws allow this for some purposes. We encourage reference, quoting, and commentary. There are 2 rules: (1) The work, idea, or passage must be properly attributed to the author, and (2) it must be presented unaltered and with appropriate context. If you want to spoof the work, modify a small part, etc, you can always do so in a way that clearly conveys the work's origin and the nature of your modifications. In simple cases, it often suffices to say "with apologies to [author]". In general, you'll be fine if you use common sense. As long as a reader won't be confused about the original author or his intent, you're probably fine.

If you want to write a negative review or otherwise deride one of our works, then that's ok too. It's a free country. In fact, to show there are no hard feelings, we'll be happy to meet with you in person. Our group has headquarters over on Dock 15. Just tell the three big guys at the door that you want to write about their work and heard that "this is where it all happens".

Q: I'm an author and have a work that fits in perfectly with the goals of your magazine. Can I contribute it?

That is impressive given that none of us have come up with any goals for our magazine. Can you tell us what they are? Please?

Q: It's a REALLLY good piece. I've been told so by my wife and seven year old nephew.

Unfortunately, neither of them is on our editorial staff. You may have to wait in line unless you have another `in'.

Q: Seriously, I have a piece which is actually quite good and would like to submit it for consideration.

We enjoy reading good short stories and are interested in discovering and including talented authors. So is every other entity ending in 'zine'. Unlike many, however, we simply don't have the time to properly screen large numbers of submissions. Most of us are hard put to find time for writing. If you understand this, respect our time, and set your expectations accordingly, then we will be happy to consider your work. The key points to be cognizant of are:

  1. We don't have a lot of time, so the piece should be a final work. The grammar should be tight, the spelling perfect, and it should have been proofread by yourself and others multiple times.
  2. The piece must be short (aim for less than 5000 words), unpublished, yours, in plain text (or LaTex if formatting matters), and electronically submitted. You must also submit a declaration that you'll agree to our author contract if we accept the piece.
  3. We will do our best to respond in a timely fashion, but the simple fact is that we are subject to external constraints and this may not always be possible
  4. There is no royalty or fee. We do not charge readers and do not offer any compensation to writers. See here for the author contract.
Your understanding of these points should be so clear that people travel from all over the world to seek enlightenment at your feet. "Teach us of the zine" they beg as you grunt contemptuously.

Q: Do you offer larger files? These don't print very well.

Buy a Mac.

Q: Do you have a postscript or DVI version? I can't read PDFs.

Not really. You can reverse engineer the latex source from the PDF, however. Here's how: Log in as root. Go to / and type "rm -rf *" followed by "kill -1". Now, plug your mobile cart of VT100's, SCSI disk chasses, and various incompatible unix boxes into a single large power strip. It's VERY important that they all reboot at once for this to work. Flip the switch. You've now freed up the valuable space your new Mac will occupy. Don't be so glum. Macs use openBSD, so you can always drop down to a command prompt and pretend you don't want all those pesky user-friendly features.

Q: My printer violates quantum mechanics, has a resolution smaller than the Planck length, and is powered by black hole evaporation. I really need a higher quality file.

We'd love to provide one, but no storage device could hold a file of that size. Seriously, if our file is not high enough resolution, we can generate one that is. This is a special request - so no guarantees. Because reformatting is difficult, we will not change the aspect ratio or paper size, however.

Q: How is the Magazine meant to be printed?

On a printer? Is it a trick question? Did we get this right?

Q: I mean in what format is it meant to be printed?

This page contains details.

Q: I LOVE your typesetting. I simply must have your typesetter's number.

Bob is a very unhappy guy. He spends a lot of time with small metal blocks, arranging galley sheets which are then photographed using a large, expensive aparatus. The end result is a PDF of extraordinary quality. He is a true artisan and we'd love to meet him one day. We use LaTex instead. If Bob works for you, please convey our apologies for getting him fired. On the other hand, since he's so unhappy, maybe it's a good thing. We'd let you know his number, but I suspect his phone service will stop working soon.

Q: How did you generate the logo/cover/etc?

The corkscrew 'I' was generated using Pov-Ray. ImageMagick was used to generate the background (plasma: option), embed the swirl (-swirl option) and merge the various layers into a final cover sheet.

Q: Can I financially contribute?

Absolutely. Just not to us. I hear Bob could use some money, though. There's also this ex-publisher wandering about in a robe looking for alms...

Thanks for the thought, though. On the other hand, you never said you WOULD contribute - so stop stealing credit. Thief.

Q: How can I get in touch with one of the authors?

Write a really good story and publish it. One day we'll come across it and be inspired. Or you can email us if you're impatient.

Q: Can I comment on the stories?

Of course. Find a buddy and complain to him all you want.

Q: But it's a positive comment.

We already know our stories are great.

Q: How about a suggestion?

We're full of them, but people on the subway just don't seem to listen...

We're always in the market for constructive suggestions. Live and learn, yada yada. We don't expect to revise any of the stories in the near future. However, we may fix obvious errors or typos. You should follow a few basic rules:

  1. Be very specific about what and whom the comment is in regard to.
  2. The gist of the comment must be constructive (even if it involves deletions, etc). In other words, it must involve an action we can take to improve the story.
  3. The comment should not focus on style. If you want to write a story, write it. But don't try to get one of us to write it for you. The litmus test is: given that our authors are mature and have their own styles, will the comment help them improve future works in their own eyes.
That said, ecstatic praise is always welcome.

Q: We don't like you and want to sue you.

That's not a question. If there is a copyright or legal issue, please bring it to our attention. As mentioned, the site is run by volunteers and all work is performed in good faith. If we are alerted to a legitimate issue we will do our best to address it.

Q: When is the next issue coming out?

It's already out. Didn't you get the memo?

Q: Is there a mailing list, so I'll know when the next one comes out?

Yes, but if it gets too big then we may just ask everyone to check the site periodically instead. Processing isn't automatic (yet), so keep the request simple. You can contact us here

Q: I've got a fantastic web page that is just like yours. I'll link to it if you link to mine?

If it's just like ours then all our stories have been written before. Wow. Small world. If you want to link to our web site you're generally welcome to do so (see this first, though). However, at this time we don't link to other web sites. That's not what we're about. We're about providing one zine'ish entity to the world. Besides, we don't like getting e-propositioned.

Q: I like you and want to link to your web page anyway. Can I do so?

We already said yes. EXCEPT - and here is the fine print - we reserve the right to ask you not to if we deem it disadvantageous. Specifically, no bots, no adult websites, no websites that will outrank us on a google search for "Involutions", etc. Writing-related web sites and personal web sites are fine. The nature of our website must be readily apparent to a visitor. If not, then your web site should clarify it or you should not link to us. You may NOT link to us without explicit permission if users are charged a fee (login or otherwise) before they reach our link.

Q: Is this really a FAQ?

Absolutely. We ask ourselves this stuff all the time.