Video Interview with David Bradley, editor in chief at SFX
David Bradley is the editor in chief at SFX magazine and Comic Heroes at Future Publishing. The publication is the biggest, brightest and boldest science fiction magazine in the world, full to the brim of everything and anything you ever wanted to know about science fiction, fantasy and horror.
What is SFX and what subject areas do you cover?
SFX is the market-leading science fiction and fantasy magazine across the world. We are devoted to fantasy television, film, comics, books, toys. Basically, if it's fantastical and there are spaceships, robots and dragons in it, then we cover it at SFX. Our sister title is Comic Heroes, which is a spin-off magazine dedicated completely to comic book superheroes.
What makes you different from other outlets in your sector?
SFX has been published for 15 or 16 years now, so it is established as a market-leader on both sides of the Atlantic. What we do differently from other magazines in this area is, although we concentrate on what might be considered geeky subjects, unashamedly geeky subjects, we do it with a sense of 'glossy newsstand magazine style' and there's kind of an irreverent and knowing humour about it; that makes us different. But also we try to give the magazine some personality. We like it to feel like it's a clubhouse for our readers, so all of our writers are named in the magazine, there are lots of photoshoots with our readers and our staff, so it feels like it has more personality than perhaps some of the other websites and magazines out there.
How do you decide what goes on the front cover as well as the top features?
Deciding what goes on the front cover and what the main features are requires a lot of forward-planning. We take a lot of trouble to know what's going to be coming out over the course of the next couple of years; what our big movies are going to be, what our big TV shows are going to be. We meet regularly with book publishers to find out what the big releases are going to be, so a lot of it is forward-planning.
We also have a very good sense of what our readers are excited about. As well as doing regular market research and meeting with them in focus groups at events, we also (having been published for sixteen years) are very familiar with what it is that they like, what sells and what feedback they give us. We're able to predict pretty accurately what movies they are going to be excited about in the course of the next 12 months, for instance. We know we're going to have to do a cover on 'Star Trek 2', we know we're going to cover 'Superman'; it's all about forward-planning and knowing your reader.
Do you work closely with PRs and if so, what information is most useful to you?
We do work very closely with PR companies; the publicity departments of all the major distributors and book companies. The things we like to know about are our release schedules, distribution schedules, as far ahead as possible, working on a monthly title. Although we do have a successful website too, the monthly title has a long lead-time so knowing in advance what are going to be the big releases next year, for instance, is always advantageous, so release schedules are good. Also, because a lot of our coverage is of authors and actors who are based (perhaps) in America, forward notice of trips to the UK, press visits and interview opportunities is always very handy.
Do you work closely with freelancers and if so, how would you like them to get in touch?
SFX works with a lot of freelancers. A large portion of the magazine is written by the team, actually, but a good half of it comes from external reviewers, feature writers and interviewers in America. We prefer to be approached by email with a solid pitch and some indication of what contacts the freelancers have that we currently lack on the magazine. The most important thing is that the person is able to plug a gap in our knowledge. We have quite a big team and, of course, we're life-long science fiction and fantasy fans so the best way to approach us with work is to email us with access to people to interview, or a subject area that we currently lack in the magazine.