Funding The Deadlands

A Brief History of Funding The Deadlands


Sean Markey here, publisher of The Deadlands.

I’m coming to you today to talk to you about this little zine and funding, always a hot topic in our corner of the world.

When I started this magazine, we launched a successful Kickstarter project that funded us through the first year. The subscription software I paid a developer to customize never performed the way it should have. Subscriptions were a nightmare-tangle of badly-behaving technology and a lack of time/money to untangle it. Before a chunk of our initial subscriptions would have renewed, I made the decision to make the magazine free to read as long as you were on the email list. Of course, it is always free to read on the website, but to get a fancy issue formatted for your favorite eReader, you had to sign up to the list.

After that first year (May 21 – May 22) I paid out of pocket to fund The Deadlands. I’ve been lucky in life, and I could afford to do this for a little while, assuming I’d figure out something more sustainable and long term in the future.

October 2022 saw us host The Festival of The Deadlands, where we ran another Kickstarter and tried to make it an event people could participate in, have fun with, while hopefully donating some money to the cause.

The Festival was not a success—the Kickstarter barely made it across the finish line. Maybe my hopes were too high, but we did not generate the kind of attention and participation I had hoped we might. I’m deeply grateful to everyone who did participate and DID help us fund. I don’t want my summary of events to come off as ungrateful or unappreciative because: nothing could be farther from the truth.

The goal for the Festival was $19,000. We chose a number lower than we needed to make sure we funded (on Kickstarter), because if we hadn’t funded it would have been devastating. I hoped we’d sail past it to a number that would actually meet our financial needs as a magazine.

With this Kickstarter, I went hard on physical goods. I thought people would be so excited for the Ferryman’s coin we offered—and many were!—but nowhere as many as I thought it would be.

What It Takes To Run The Deadlands

#RealTalk time.

I added up all of the costs of our issues (including June and July of this year, which aren’t out yet at the time of writing).

It has cost $48,580 to publish The Deadlands so far, which comes out to an average of about $1,800 per issue.

That includes the content: fiction, poetry, and nonfic, as well as the cover art, and staff honorarium payments.

Left out of that number are a lot of other things necessary to power a magazine in this day and age, among them Moksha submission software, and Google Workspace for staff email.

The Future Of Funding The Deadlands

As I find my way forward with The Deadlands I’m making a few changes that will, hopefully, help keep this zine around for a long time to come.

Here is an overview of the changes/the ways you can support us.

1. Subscriptions Are Necessary

We are no longer sending a PDF and EPUB versions of The Deadlands to email subscribers. We WILL send announcements of new issues and other exciting news via our email list.

There will be two ways to buy our issues and support us:

  1. Find us on (first choice, highly recommended) or (🤮); purchase them there starting June 19th
  2. Join our Patreon at the “Death Enthusiast” tier or higher and you’ll be sent the latest issue every month.

You will still be able to read the amazing stories, poems, and essays we publish here on when they go live.

2. We Have a Patreon Now

You know Patreon—you’re probably a Patreon patron already!

We’re planning a lot of fun, interesting things on our Patreon, in addition to providing an e-copy of each new issue.

We’ll have four tiers:

  • Ghost
  • Death Enthusiast
  • Junior Psychopomp
  • God of Death

You can check out all the details and what comes with each tier on our Patreon here:

Join Us In The Underworld At Our Patreon… OF DEATH

The short version:

  • you’ll get the latest issue of The Deadlands each month
  • you’ll get some physical rewards on your anniversary of joining (depending on the tier)
  • you’ll get to interact with The Deadlands staff
  • you’ll get to participate in polls and discussions within the community
  • you’ll get a discount to our store
  • and some other goodies you can read about on Patreon

3. We’ll Soon Be Launching Our Store: Grave Goods

Shout out to Elise for coming up with that awesome name. Grave Goods.

We’re gonna keep selling these amazing Ferryman’s Coins.

We’re gonna sell hoodies again.

We’ll have hats, and maybe shirts, possibly notebooks, and a bunch of other stuff I haven’t even thought of yet.

If you’re on our email list or a member of our Patreon you’ll definitely hear about the store’s launch.

If you love us and what we do, if you love our deathy magazine and our weird Twitter account, please consider supporting us.

We’ll be selling our issues and back issues starting when we launch Issue 26 in June.

We have a donate button on the site.

We’ve got a Patreon.

We’ll soon have a store.

There are a lot of ways to support us. I know not everyone will be in a position to—and that’s ok! It’s why we’ll still release the issues on our website over the course of a month. We all strongly believe that one should have access to art without the expectation of payment.

We believe that artists should absolutely be paid for their work, and we’ll continue paying them.

But we also believe that what we’re doing is valuable, and hope to, at least, break even.

Beginnings and Endings, With Gratitude

I want to end by thanking everyone who has supported The Deadlands so far.

Thank you to the amazing staff: Elise, Nico, Amanda, David, Christine, Rekka, Laura, and Cory.

Thank you to all of the writers that have sent us wonderful things to publish.

Thank you to everyone who supported us so far by backing a Kickstarter, subscribing to our email list, sharing with a friend, reviewing an issue, interacting with our Twitter account, and just…reading and enjoying what we publish.

I love publishing The Deadlands, and I hope to be able to do it for years and years and years.

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