Interview with John Raab (CEO of Suspense Magazine)

author, fiction, film, litmag, magazine, writing

We have a very exciting interview this week! The founder/publisher/CEO of Suspense Magazine took the time out of his busy schedule to answer a few of our questions. John founded Suspense Magazine in 2007. Since then, it has become a major publication of the genre, showcasing the work of many established and new authors. Be sure to check out their website HERE!

Suspense Magazine May June July 2018 Cover Online

1. What made you decide to start Suspense Magazine in 2007? What was your goal with the publication?

It started with a trip to Barnes and Noble. What my wife and I realized was that all you saw was basically the same authors at the front shelf each time you went in. When you went to the stacks to try and figure out who else to get, it was very time consuming and hard to figure out who these authors were. So I thought well someone has to have a magazine or something online to help us out. When I started to search what I found was way too many websites that were basically incomplete. That’s when I said to my wife, why don’t we start one and put everything in one place giving every author in the genre a chance to showcase and feature their work to new fans. So that’s what we did and keep doing today.

2. What are some of the biggest hurdles you have had to overcome with Suspense Magazine and how did you overcome them?

Well I’ve not overcome them all, that’s for sure, it’s a grind every day. But we have made great strides in getting the magazine out to as many people possible. Of course every publication or movie or Tv show would love 100% of everyone to see their work, but we all know that’s not possible, so the struggle is always to find more fans. We are read by a little over 100,000 people. When we started we never thought we would be able to get that far, but we were lucky. The one thing that we did which was a big mistake was printing the magazine. I know that many people like print magazines, but I’ll let you in on a little secret. When you print a magazine, if you are lucky you are able to sell 30% of what you print. That would be like People or Vogue, etc. However if you don’t get massive ad revenue you will fail, which is why you saw so many print magazines go away, and keep going away since 2008. Also when you deal with a company like Barnes and Noble, you don’t get paid on your magazine for 11 months after the on sale date. So we were basically giving BN an 11 month no interest loan on our money. Unless you have serious capital behind you or willing to take the loss, you can’t stay in business. We decided that all digital was a better option. The next item we need to tackle is getting an app. That’s on the horizon, but we do have a radio show and other ways to get as much information to fans as possible.

3. If you had to pick your proudest moment/achievement with Suspense Magazine, what would it be?

Interesting question. I’m going to give you a little insight into myself personally, something I don’t do very often, as I’m a very quiet, boring person. However being a practicing Buddhist, I find success in everything we do. I can’t say I have one moment that is better than other, I find them all equally successful. I will say that the biggest surprise we ever had were two things. First when Stephen King said yes to us interviewing him, that was special and then being asked out to lunch by Dean Koontz when we talked to him. Growing up those authors were very special to me, reading everything I could by them. When I was able to talk to them, not as a fan, but as an equal in the business, that made me very proud that we were able to create something that they wanted to be a part of. Since then I’ve interviewed and made friends with so many wonderful authors, something that we didn’t expect to happen.

4. After over a decade of experience as the CEO of Suspense Magazine, what is your biggest advice to new/upcoming authors?

Two words of advice. Read everything and anything you can. Not just in your genre, but fiction, non-fiction, inspirational, business, sports, articles, blogs, etc. Get as much knowledge as you can about the subject matter you are writing about. The second and the biggest one is editing. As an author you are the number one worst person to edit your own work. The second worst person is anybody that is a friend or a relative, since they won’t tell you exactly how it is, cause they don’t want to hurt your feelings. Sorry but you need that. You need your feelings hurt to be a better author. You think that Stephen King, etc woke up one day started writing and Carrie or Salem’s Lot just flowed out of the typewriter? Hell no! He had to work his butt off, being told what was wrong, what was right, etc. To this day he still needs an editor. He’s still learning his craft. Hire an editor that wont care about your feelings and will really give you excellent advice in what you are writing. This is a business. And like every business you need to surround yourself with the best possible people to be successful. If that is your family telling you how great you are all the time, that’s fine to keep you motivated and inspired to write, but if you really want to make a living out of writing, you need people that will get in your face and tell you the real story.

Thank you for such detail responses, John! It is amazing to see how such great things can start with such humble beginnings. You have definitely done a lot for the genre over the past decade. We are honored to be able to host this interview on our blog. I encourage everyone to check out Suspense Magazine’s website for some great content.


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