The Pitfalls of Stating a Literary Magazine
If you are running or starting a literary magazine, consider the following problems. Am I the number 1 authority on the internet on this subject? No. Have I owned and operated successful literary magazines and writer’s sites for the last 22 years? Yes. Have I made many mistakes and earned myself a ton of headaches? Yes. Please read this article and do it better than I did.
Problem 1: Too much work
Literary magazine editors can use less work. Literary magazines are very labor intensive. You may get 10s, 100s, or even 1000s submissions. You will 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 many ways, but 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 initially did very well and then faltered. They wanted to keep it personal, but you hurt yourself. This answer was the result, I guess, of an editor who sent out too much mail. Maybe they didn’t care if I returned, but it was more like just being tired of dealing with people. I only revisited the site once 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 beneficial. 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 six months from now, you’ll think, “What the heck am I don’t this?” 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 can create something unique in the writing world, do it.
2. Should you make money off a literary magazine? Many 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. You should love it, but you shouldn’t have to pay. You should at least want to break even; if you are courageous, you should think you can make money.
Number 3: I can’t make money on a literary magazine or website
1. Bull. Yes, you can make money on a literary magazine. It is much easier to make money on a literary magazine or literary site than most people think.
2. Literary, writing, book publishing, and bookselling sites were and are some of the most profitable sites on the web. Amazon is one of the top literary companies that started 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. Literary magazines can sell well because they build a loyal readership. Namely, the people you publish will sign up for your mailing list and 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 now decide to run the site like a business. It will save a lot of time, energy, and headache.
Number 4: More hours in the day.
Remember, many people who start a literary magazine are also writers, and I often hear that it will take time away from your writing. It’s true. It will, but if you set up a schedule and limit your time online, it will help. It will not cure the disease in the end, but it can help keep you writing.
We have an extensive listing of literary magazines if you would like get ideas and look at examples.
Another thing that makes it a thankless task is that many wannabe writers are so obsessed with getting published that they don’t bother to read the guidelines for submission.
They don’t particularly care about your magazine or website. All they want is an audience!
Hence submissions that are totally unsuitable and a very full inbox!
It definitely takes time away from writing and generally doing what you need to in your life but it is a rewarding experience. Someone pointed out that it was an advantage as a writer to be involved with a lit mag as you got to see so much other material. I publish realism mostly at Roadside Fiction