The Pitfalls of Stating a Literary Magazine
If you are running or have thought about starting a literary magazine, you should consider the follow problems you are going to run into. Am I the number 1 authority on the internet on this subject, no. Have I owned and operated successful literary magazines and writers sites for the last 12 years? Yes. Have I made a ton of mistakes and earned myself a ton of headaches? Yes. Read the article and do it better than I did..
Problem 1: Too much work
Literary magazine editors have: Too much work. Literary magazines are very labor intensive. You may get 10s, or 100s, or even 1000s submissions, and you’ll be expected to respond to all of them. Publish someone and you are their hero. Reject a writer and you can get a furry of slurs. Here are a few things you can do to limit the work:
1. Get a design template and stick with it. Make it easy for yourself to publish the site. Think it all out first, and then basically cut and paste.
2. Should you use a blog? It might make it easier in a lot of ways, but I personally think you should start with a website and add a blog.
3 . Write a form letter for responses. It’ll save a ton of headaches and offense. I’ve had editors send back a rejection like, “Ah, didn’t do it for me.” The magazine I got this from did very well at first and then faltered. I’m sure they wanted to keep it personal, but you end up hurting yourself in the end. This answer was the result, I would guess, of a editor who simply sent out too much mail. Maybe they didn’t care if I came back or not, but I would guess it was more along the lines of just being tired of dealing with people. I didn’t visit the site again until I heard they were having trouble. I never submitted anything else to them. A form letter might seem impersonal but it will save you from making a jerk of yourself on the day your dog died and your girl ran off
4. Try to get some help. If you go into it as a group, it is very helpful. If it is just you, it’ll be a lot of work.
Number 2: Too little reward
Right now dealing with a bunch of artists and writers and being able to publish their work sounds like a lot of fun, but 6 months from now you’ll think “What the heck am I don’t this for?” Do yourself a big favor and understand the following:
1. Make sure you love this going in. If you are doing it for any other reason than you love writing and want to support writing, walk away now. If you love writing, and you think you can create something unique in the writing world, do it.
2. Should you make money off a literary magazine? A lot of writers think you shouldn’t, but if you say it this way: Should you pay for other people to publish their work? Most people would say no. I say that you should love it, but you shouldn’t have to pay for it. You should at very least want to break even, and if you are very brave you should think you can make money on it.
Number 3: I can’t make money on a literary magazine or website
1. Bull. Yes you can make money on a literary magazine. In fact it is much easier to make money on a literary magazine or literary site than most people think.
2. Literary, writing, book publishing, book selling sites were and are some of the most profitable sites on the web. Amazon is one of the top literary companies and they started out by selling books.Self publishing book companies, magazine sellers, and many other “literary” type sites do very well, and they will pay you to put ads on your site or sell their products. DO NOT go into this thinking that your goal is to quit your day job, but you can make it easier on yourself if you decide right now to at least get the site to pay for itself and supplement your income. That is entirely possible.
3. Another reason literary magazines can do well selling is that they build a loyal readership, namely the people you publish mostly will sign up for your mailing list an even come back from month to month to read the magazine.
4. You will not, usually, make money by charging for content, but you can run ads or promote other products.
5. You should decide right now to run the site like it is a business. It will save a lot of time, energy, and headache.
Number 4: Not enough hours in the day.
Remember many people who start a literary magazine are also writers, and the thing I hear all the time is that it will take time away from your writing. This is true. It will, but if you set up a schedule right now, and limit your time online it will help. It will not cure the disease in the end, but it can help you to keep you writing.
Richard Edwards has a BFA in Creative Writing and Journalism from Bowling Green State University and an M.S. in Education from the University of Akron. Managing editor of Drunk Duck, poetry editor for Prairie Margins, reporter for Miscellany, Akron Journal, Lorain Journal…check our About Us page for more. Also here is info on our On Classic Articles