FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT SFX MAGAZINE
Last updated: 23 November 2012
1. What is SFX?
SFX is the world’s number one science fiction and fantasy magazine. It’s been running since 1995, and covers all aspects of SF and fantasy, including TV, films, DVDs, books, comics, games, collectables and more. It’s also a website (this one!), an app and more. If you’re into sci-fi, horror or fantasy, you should read/visit/attend SFX. The core team are based in Britain, although we have writers and readers all over the world, and it’s available internationally including the US and Canada – not to mention digital versions (Apple devices or Zinio). It’s published by Future and is the best selling magazine of its type, the market leader in the genre magazine arena.
2. How often do you come out?
Every four weeks. That means there are 13 regular issues of SFX a year. Outside the usual SFX schedule, we also publish a regular special edition (SFX Collections) which comes out six times a year and focuses on a single topic. See the website for details of other forthcoming projects. Six times a year you can also read our spin-off sister title, Comic Heroes. And of course you can get these digitally (see links above).
3. How many copies do you sell?
The ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulations) provides an official yearly circulation figure for every magazine signed up. Our latest print ABC figure is 27,743, making us the best selling magazine of our kind. Beware of other magazines’ claims when not supported by an officially audited number – if you’re thinking of advertising with them, ask them why they haven’t revealed an ABC figure. Of course there is also this website (over 200,000 unique users) and Comic Heroes (over a million downloads of the free issue on Apple Newsstand) and more; drop us an email if you want more information about all our brands.
4. What does “SFX” stand for?
It’s not really an acronym, although the “SF” bit obviously implies “science fiction”. The “X” bit? Er… Xtra? Xtreme? Xplosion?! Take your pick. It certainly doesn’t mean we’re a special FX magazine. We’re purely a sci-fi, fantasy and horror mag, so – PR folk please note – we don’t run features on films like Titanic or Poseidon, even though they’re heavy on effects.
5. So what exactly do you mean by “science fiction and fantasy”?
A good question, because our definition of “fantasy” is pretty broad. For us, The Wizard Of Oz is a fantasy film. So is Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. We cover horror films, if they have a supernatural or fantastical element (ghosts, zombies, etc) – but not if they’re just serial killer thrillers. We cover Lost and Alias because these universes have fantastical elements, but not 24 or The Saint. Where do 300 or James Bond fit in? Ultimately, it comes down to a gut feeling – we all know when something feels SFXy.
6. When does the next issue go on sale?
In-mag, this date can always be found on the opening Ed Zone page of the mag, the Next Month column on Development Hell, on the “Total Recall” page at the back of the current issue; or it should be at the bottom of the website’s details of the latest issue.
7. My local newsagent doesn’t stock SFX. Where can I buy it?
You can buy SFX wherever magazines are sold, including your nearest supermarket and WH Smith. Comic Heroes and the SFX Collections are usually best found in WH Smith. You could always simply ask your local newsagent to order it in for you. Alternately, you can order it online via www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk/sfx, or call our customer services team on 0844 848 2852. And don’t forget you can get it digitally, downloaded to your Apple device or Android/PC via Zinio.
8. How do I subscribe to SFX?
Subscribe online here, or call 0844 848 2852. You’ll save cash and there might be a special offer running too – this is usually described in the pages of the latest issue. If you’re in the US or Canada, click through instead to www.imsnews.com/sfx to get prices and information for your country. There are digital subscription offers too (see links above).
9. I don’t live in the UK. Where can I buy SFX?
SFX is exported to many countries, including America and Australia. The best place to find it is in bookstores, particularly Barnes and Noble. Alternatively, you can subscribe to the magazine online (see the question above) or order it by calling UK (+44) 844 848 2852 . We are now able to provide prices in dollars for North American customers. And there’s digital, too, for your iPad or Android device.
10. I’m a subscriber and the latest issue hasn’t turned up – what do I do?
Regrettably, the editorial team is unable to assist with queries of this nature. Please contact our customer services department by phoning 0844 848 2852, or by emailing email@example.com. There’s a thread on our forum too where subscribers can compare notes with each other.
11. You’re giving a free gift to new subscribers, but I’m already a subscriber. Can I get the free gift?
You know how these offers work – you see it all the time with mortgages and sale items in shops. Sorry you missed out, but you probably got a great offer when you subscribed originally. If we have enough stock, we may be able to offer the current promotion to existing subscribers who renew – use one of the customer service contacts above to discuss your request. We are planning to arrange some special offers, discounts and gifts for existing subscribers – watch this space.
12. Where can I buy back issues of SFX?
Our customer services people (0844 848 2852) keep copies of the three most recent issues of the mag, and you can also buy them online here. If you’re looking for an issue older than that, you’ll have to try and track down a second-hand copy on your own. Unsold copies of the mag are recycled and pulped (standard practice in publishing). We have started to make some of our back issues available for the iPad and the text of certain articles available for Kindle users.
13. Can I buy SFX merchandise, like t-shirts?
Yes indeed, over at our new official store. As well as a range of SFX t-shirts, we also offer TV and movie-themed clothing and other collectable items. Visit www.sfxmerch.co.uk.
14. How do I contact you?
The website has details for the editorial team and our advertising manager. If in doubt, the communal mag email is firstname.lastname@example.org, which is where you should send letters for our Post Apocalypse page. We regret we are unable to respond personally to most correspondence. Here are some other contact email addresses you might want to know:
Questions for our SFXperts page: email@example.com
Subscription queries: firstname.lastname@example.org
15. I’ve got a sci-fi related question I want to ask you. Where do I send it to?
See answer above – you can email email@example.com or write to Ask The SFXperts, SFX, 30 Monmouth Street, Bath BA1 2BW. Sorry again, we can’t promise to answer your question (we simply may not know the answer!), or to reply personally.
16. I’m a publicist – who should I send press releases to?
All our details, including what areas we are each responsible for, can be found on the contacts page on the website. If it’s news, it’s Richard Edwards. If it’s an interview/set visit opportunity, then it’s Nick Setchfield. If it’s ready for review, then it’s Ian Berriman. If it relates to the website it’s Dave Golder. Competitions are best placed with Jordan Farley. If it’s important strategic stuff that affects the whole magazine, or its cover and free gifts, then it’s editor-in-chief Dave Bradley you want. Comic Heroes is Matt Bielby. If in doubt, add firstname.lastname@example.org to your database.
17. Can I book an advert in SFX?
Hell yes! Whether it’s a full-page display ad or a titchy classified, you can find out our rates by contacting Adrian Hill – email email@example.com or phone him on 01225 442 244.
18. Didn’t you used to do free reader ads in the mag?
Yes we did for many years, but the number we received diminished as people turned to online services like eBay, Twitter, Match.com, Facebook or even our own forum to swap things, find bargains or meet people. You are still very welcome to write a letter to the magazine’s Post Apocalypse pages if you have something, like a fan event, to promote. We still plug fanzines, amateur websites, short films and self-published books in our letters pages so keep contacting us about those.
19. What are your rules about entering competitions?
Our competitions can now be entered online, or by SMS. Future Publishing has a set of standard terms and conditions for online entry: check ‘em out here. If you are entering a compo in the mag via SMS, please read the small print on the relevant page. We are unable to accept entries by post.
20. I won a competition but I haven’t received my prize yet – what do I do?
Our staff writer Jordan Farley is the contact for all compos queries. Ring SFX on 01225 442244 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
21. I won a free book for having a letter printed, but I haven’t received it yet – what do I do?
Contact the member of the editorial team who compiled that issue’s letters page. Tell them your address, and which issue your letter was printed in (if you can’t remember, contact email@example.com and give us much information as you can).
22. Will you print this feature/review/news story I’ve written?
Short answer: probably not. Sorry, we do not accept speculative submissions. We write as much of the magazine as possible in-house. In nearly all cases, reviews and features not written by the team are specially commissioned from a pool of regular freelancers, and we’re not actively seeking more contributors just now. Feel free to email us a CV and samples of your work for consideration (Word documents are best), but unless you have some clear access or expertise we currently lack we are unlikely to commission you. Here is a little advice on submitting samples.
23. How do I get a job on SFX?
Unfortunately job opportunities on SFX are very few and far between – people generally stay on the mag for a long time, because it’s a fun job! There are other opportunities within our parent company, however.
24. Have you got any advice on becoming a sci-fi journalist?
Our first advice would be: just aim to be a journalist! There are few professional science fiction magazines in the world, so there’s a lot of competition for staff jobs. Most of the writing team on SFX worked on a variety of other publications first, so why not work for a local paper or something, and work your way into a specialist area you love?
Secondly: try and get work experience at your local newspaper, free magazine or TV station. This can be a very good way of getting your foot in the door in the media. If you make a good impression you might get some freelance work out of it; if you’re really lucky you might be in the right place at the right time when a vacancy opens up. We do sometimes take people on for work experience on SFX – contact the team (above) if you’d like to find out more.
Our third piece of advice for would-be journos is: write! Write lots! Then write even more! Good writing requires talent, but it’s also a skill you can get better at through practice. So write for a fanzine or a website – or start your own! Even just putting together a regular diary or blog can improve your writing. If you contribute to forums and blogs, that could raise your profile too, and you may hear about opportunities.
Finally: when you’re contacting a prospective employer asking for work, make sure your letter/email isn’t full of spelling mistakes and basic grammatical errors. You’d be surprised how many flawed applications we receive – make sure yours isn’t one of them.
25. Can I do work experience on SFX?
There are opportunities to gain unpaid work experience with the SFX team, although we only have a few slots per year, and placements typically last only a couple of weeks. They take place in our Bath office and we don’t pay travel or accommodation expenses – please bear location and transport in mind when applying! Due to demand and experience we typically give priority to university students or graduates but this is not a fixed rule. Please contact the editor-in-chief to find out if any placements are available.
26. Can I send you my comic strip/short story/poetry?
No thanks. Unfortunately we’re not looking to run any cartoons, comic strips, poetry or short stories in the mag at the moment.
27. If I send you the manuscript of my novel can you help me get it published? If I send you my movie screenplay can you help me get it made?
Sorry, but we can’t help – we’re in the magazine publishing business, not the business of publishing books or making movies. Producing a magazine and website takes up all our time, so sadly we don’t have the spare time to read people’s work and offer advice. And we can’t help you become an actor or an extra either.
28. I would like to offer you an item for review: what is the correct formal procedure?
Simple. Post it to our reviews editor, Ian Berriman at: SFX, 30 Monmouth Street, Bath, BA1 2BW. Then cross your fingers.
29. Will you review my self-published novel?
‘Fraid not. We receive great mountains of books for review (last time we counted, it was about 80 a month), far more than we can possibly cover in the available space. It’s hard for us to justify reviewing a book self-published using Lulu or a vanity press rather than a book by a major SF imprint that will be available in stores nationwide. Occasionally we are able to plug independently published books in our letters pages (see point 18 above) but generally we don’t review them. Sorry.
30. Will you review my fanzine?
Maybe – we try to recommend the occasional one in our Your ‘Zines slot (now appearing on our Post Apocalypse page). Send samples to firstname.lastname@example.org or Your ‘Zines, SFX, Future Publishing, 30 Monmouth Street, Bath, BA1 2BW. See point 18 above.
31. I’ve made a short film/put on an amateur play! Will you write a feature about it? I’ll give you an exclusive and everything!
We’re very impressed by people’s enthusiasm, but there is so much to write about and limited space in the mag, so we have to be very choosy. We often have to turn away giant multinational companies with their multi-million-dollar projects, so please don’t be shocked if we decline this opportunity. However, we do try to blog about exciting fan projects from time to time and there is a chance we could do a small piece in the letters pages of the mag – if you’ve got something interesting coming up, email email@example.com about it (see point 18 above).
32. Can you give me the home address of my favourite actor?
No. We don’t know them all, and even the ones we do know personally would not thank us for sharing their private details. We correspond with most actors via their agents and PR representatives, and so should you. If you want to send someone a fan letter, you need to write to them via their agent. If they’re a British actor, try using the Spotlight website to find out who their agent is.
33. Why do you always cover up the “F” in “SFX” on the cover? It makes it look like I’m buying a magazine called “SEX“!
It’s funny isn’t it? But it doesn’t happen all the time. We don’t select or reject cover images based on whether or not they’ll cover up the F – you’ll find a number of issues where our logo isn’t covered up. Look at any magazine and you’ll see that sometimes, to create a design with impact, the main image stands out in front of the magazine’s logo. This is known as “crashing the logo”. It’s just standard magazine craft and although it makes us chuckle sometimes, it’s not an intentional attempt to make you look like a perv.
34. On the letters page every issue, there’s always a little quote at the bottom of the list of contact details – what do they mean?
These are funny or stupid things said by members of the team during the course of making the issue. (Our jargon for that list of contact details is “flannel panel”, fact fans).
35. What do the star ratings on your reviews mean?
Our star ratings roughly translate as:
And no, we’re not going to bring back the A+ to E- rating system the mag had many years ago.
36. Why didn’t you review Monkey Tennis III until after it had been released?
We do our very best to run advance reviews, but it’s not always possible. Every issue of SFX goes to the printers way before it hits the shops. This means that to review a film before it goes on general release, we need to see it weeks in advance. Unfortunately, sometimes film screenings take place as late as a couple of days before the film goes on general release (often when the film is a bit of a stinker…). In these situations, we try to make the reviews available online as soon as possible.
37. Got any freebies? Come on, you must have some of those badges left over…
Sorry, we don’t have any left-over cover gifts lying around. They’re stored in a warehouse in Market Harborough somewhere, not in the editorial office. So trying to blag off us is unlikely to be productive.
38. Can you turn off the ads on your website? They’re really annoying!
‘Fraid not! Ads provide valuable support to us and are one of the reasons we are able to maintain a website at all. You may find that there are useful software solutions if this is something that really bothers you. We’re grateful to our sponsors for supporting SFX – gazing at their ads is a small price to pay for all the content we upload for you every day, isn’t it?
39. What do those Spoiler Threat levels in your magazine’s news section mean?
Spoilers can be tricky things to pin down, because everybody seems to be watching TV at different speeds these days. So in order to make sure that everyone can read news stories in SFX without fear of having their favourite show ruined, we’re classifying news stories according to the potential spoiler damage they’re likely to cause. Every TV-related news story comes with an exclusive SPOILER THREAT rating. We’ve sifted through the facts to decide whether the information contained wherein is safe, a bit risky or downright dangerous. No other mag cares more about ensuring you stay spoiler free! The ratings work as follows:
GREEN: SAFE FOR ALL VIEWERS
Anything with a green rating will be spoiler free for anyone watching at the pace of UK terrestrial analogue TV (though if you’re waiting for the DVD, we still advise caution).
AMBER: SAFE FOR MULTI-CHANNEL VIEWERS
Anything in a story rated amber will not be spoilery to anyone watching at the pace of UK satellite, cable or digital TV.
RED: NOT SAFE FOR UK VIEWERS
Beware! You might find spoiler information in here about shows that are yet to air in the UK (although they may have been broadcast in the US). You have been warned…
40. Who are those bloggers spouting opinions on the SFX site?
Back at the start of 2009 we invited readers of the site, forum and magazine to get in touch if they’d like to be official SFX bloggers. Out of all those who submitted contributions, we chose 12 people, and they’ve now begun regularly posting on the main SFX website. They will be contributing thoughts about SF, fantasy and horror in all its forms, giving their own personal opinions on the hot topics and leading discussions and debates on the site – join in!
41. You made a mistake in your mag! Can I point it out?
Sure, as long as it’s not just a typo. Mis-typed words or commas in the wrong place just happen sometimes and pointing them out doesn’t make it less likely to happen in future. However, if you’ve spotted a genuine factual error or gap in our knowledge, then please proceed to our buzzing SFX forum, where you can share your observation with everybody. Just don’t expect to win anything…