According to their website, "Spectacle was founded by Kevin Hale and Danny Dumas. Kevin is the CEO and creative director. He used to be a managing partner at Y Combinator. Danny is the editor-in-chief. He’s written for Wired, Esquire, GQ, Popular Science, and The Wall Street Journal. We like thinking about new worlds, the future, and investing in promising creative talent."
The exciting news is this market pays $100 for flash fiction and $500 for short stories up to 7,500 words. This means they meet the SFWA membership requirements of 6 cents a word, and maybe more per word depending on the length of your story.
There are problems, though. First, the magazine doesn't say what rights they purchase. Until they state that, and preferably show someone their contract, it's impossible to say what authors are giving up for that $500.
Second, it is also hard to know what types of fiction the editors really want until they publish an issue.
Third, there's also a chance the project could go belly up before seeing print. However, I've heard the editors have decent backing for their magazine so at least a few issues should see the light of day.
The editors are also new to the speculative fiction genre and may not know what they were getting into. In the first 10 days after opening for submissions on December 1, 2017, they received 500 submissions. In response the editors stated they may "need to rethink this process." They'd initially pledged to give a decision on each submission within a week. But with that submission onslaught, as of today they have yet to give any acceptances or rejections, at least per Submission Grinder.
I've subscribed to the magazine's first issue (which is a hefty $20) and will report on the issue once I receive it.
The editors also posted about their magazine at Product Hunt. Editor Kevin Hale said
The ultimate goal is to create a modern publishing company powered by software and ultimately helps writers and artists, which is something near and dear to my heart having studied digital art and modern American literature in college.
We’re also definitely making software. Most publishers and even literary agents don’t actually go through their slush piles. Average writers in genre will publish online for 10 years before getting recognized. Publishing is too much like a boys club still—you have to know someone to get noticed / read. For example, Tor, one of the big publishers in science fiction no longer takes open submissions, which is such a loss. The problem is they don’t have or use tools to help them get through the data and augment their editors ability to find diamonds in the rough. We want to always be able to take open submissions. We want to find great writers at scale and eventually invest in them. We’re starting with a magazine, we’re building internal tools to power it, and we ultimately want to use that data to publish books.
This is an interesting approach to publishing, especially if what they're really searching for is new writers to "invest" in. This is definitely a venture capitalist approach to editing.
As a final note, when I subscribed this is the message I received:
We really needed this win, friend. You have no idea. The women in our lives—Danny's wife and Kevin's mom—they've been wondering what we've been doing in the basement all day every day. Now we're going to rub this order right in their faces. Oh, and also deliver a great issue to you. That we won't forget. We're just going to do the gloating thing first. Thanks again! —Danny and Kevin
I'm making no comment on that statement from the editors, except to say submission guidelines are here.
Update: The only fiction acceptance I've found so far for Spectacle is from Alexia Tsotsis Bonatsos, who announced the acceptance in a tweet and added it was "my first fiction story in a decade." Bonatsos is a former TechCrunch co-editor and runs Dream Machine, a Palo Alto-based VC firm that is raising up to $25 million for its debut fund.
This seems to suggest Spectacle Magazine is leaning upon people in the venture capitalist community for writing. Take from that what you will.
On a more positive note, the magazine's Twitter feed says "Half the writers and illustrators in our first issue are glorious women! Over 10 countries represented!"
Update 2: Spectacle has been spending a good bit of money on a Facebook ad promoting their magazine. The ad has received hundreds of likes and comments, with many people criticizing the magazine for costing $20 an issue while others saying they've subscribed.
One interesting post from the editors on the Facebook thread said they'll soon accept submissions from illustrators. They said to check back on the website for more details, but as of January 6 no illustrator guidelines have been released.