Did people just quit writing once DepressionII hit?
September 28, 2011 9:52 AM   Subscribe

Where is a good place to seek submissions for a new, small-scale, locally-grounded literary magazine?

I'm starting a small magazine. Print, not online. I've done this before, in 2005, and in 2005, the place to seek submissions was craigslist. It worked very well for me back then, but now it seems a little dead. I posted a "seeking submissions" ad yesterday, and received two replies: one spam, and one from someone who clearly didn't read the instructions. Wonderful. In 2005, as a contrast, I received scores of submissions in the first hour I posted the ad. And it wasn't that I was paying back then and am not now: payment then was nothing, and payment now is a copy of the magazine, which will sell for between 7-9 dollars.

So, I'm wondering if there is some sort of forum or site where people make announcements regarding new publishing ventures. My magazine is NYC-centric, so something NYC-focused would be okay. I'm also seeking photography and art, so a forum or a site around those fields would be useful to me too.

Any ideas? And yes, I know "ask your friends and use your network." I am. I don't want my magazine to be so socially insular though. I would like strangers to be involved. I want to publish things I really like, and for that I need to cast my proverbial net wide.
posted by millipede to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Don't know of any forums by name, but a search for "writers' markets" should yield a few. (if you're NYC-centric, may be seeing if the Gotham Writers' Mart has one).

You probably won't need to post in more than a couple places, because the word will spread like kudzu.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:59 AM on September 28, 2011

posted by papayaninja at 10:03 AM on September 28, 2011

Duotrope.com a "resource listing over 3550 current Fiction and Poetry publications."

And local writers groups.
posted by maurreen at 10:16 AM on September 28, 2011

Duotrope and local creative writing programs. My creative writing department (in Chicago) may have been an outlier, but every class was started with a list of announcements including submission calls from all over. Worst case, they can post it on a bulletin board somewhere in the department.
posted by sugarfish at 10:27 AM on September 28, 2011

Generally, I think Craigslist is a little less interesting/popular than it was back then.

I think I've found the ad. The topic seems quite restrictive. And so is the prose format. It would seem that most people would have to write something new in order to submit at all, which could take a while. That could be a reason for few submissions.

Also the instructions for submitting seem quite complicated to me. Which could lead to people procrastinating.
posted by Jahaza at 10:29 AM on September 28, 2011

Response by poster: duotrope seems a little high-maintenance for my needs, and it seems like it's going to take a long time. I am looking more for a forum where I can just make a post. I'm not looking to be interviewed by a website so they can determine whether I am worthy of being listed.
posted by millipede at 10:30 AM on September 28, 2011

Without knowing what's topical for your endeavor, I would source from where you're intending to distribute it, from the readers you're trying to reach, and from how it's going to be promoted. Craigslist is just so broad, and it's so easy to miss an ad there and I would argue that people who are currently busy and successful aren't checking it all the time. On preview, I don't know how I could find the ad, but I'd say that I'm also more likely to submit to a magazine that I'd actually pay for, and that I'd desire to have a place in, rather than something that's starting up, especially with no pay. That's how my husband ended up being published in No Depression; it's why I keep thinking I want to submit to Worn Fashion Journal.

So, take Worn Fashion Journal, for example. Early issues had whatever contributors sourced by Serah Marie, I believe (I don't exactly know how they were determined, though some of it's covered here but another person involved was my boss's neighbour, and by virtue of that and it being complementary to our business, our vintage store carried the mag, and I still buy every one to this day).

After the initial issues, submissions followed from readers and the guidelines developed as need arose and the magazine grew (and shrank - I think at one point it was quarterly), and others followed and people like me keep thinking maybe I have something for them and I should see if it's a good fit, and I can see about this on the website. Having theme issues helps, I think, as do the events they produce at each launch and publicity about the magazine.

So, for example, if I were starting a NYC-centric magazine about, say, playground culture, then I'd throw up a few flyers around the playgrounds I'd feature. I'd look up NYC-based parent bloggers, and ask if they'll submit and then promote it once it's out. I'd see if the magazine stands, toy stores and clothing and gift stores that may be selling it have anyone who wants to write for it, or if they know any clients who are writers. I'd see if street fashion photographers or other artists want to submit by looking at blogs, and craft shows or nearby galleries, restaurants and shops in the area. In short, I'd do some good old-fashioned legwork and source it myself initially, then, from there build on that foundation.

Perhaps for your first issue you should solicit specific writers to achieve the quality you want to continue to present, even if it seems insular at first. Though you want to cast your net wide, you still don't try to encompass the whole ocean, you pick the area where there are most likely the best fish and go for it, right? But you'd also be sprinkling some chum with your first issue. Oh dear - that's a terrible analogy. No wonder I don't write.
posted by peagood at 10:48 AM on September 28, 2011

It's not as if people quit writing between 2005 and now. It's that most people quit writing for free. Frankly, it seems insulting to me to ask writers to donate their work to you so you can make $8 on their work. You're not getting submissions because the market has changed.

I think you're most likely to get submissions if you specifically post on college-centric sites and boards. Online probably isn't your best bet here anymore. Posting fliers around Colombia probably is.
posted by juniperesque at 10:54 AM on September 28, 2011

Response by poster: @juniperesque I'm not making any money on their work. I'm selling at printing cost+other costs incurred. Jeez. Thanks.
posted by millipede at 10:59 AM on September 28, 2011

It's not as if people quit writing between 2005 and now. It's that most people quit writing for free.

Hmm, I do not see that as being the case at all. I know tons of people who are writing for free (I do sometimes!) and also know lots of people that are publishing print one-offs, and they recruit writers through digital means: where they are.

Why don't you just... invite writers you like, instead of strangers? I mean, most people who do this kind of stuff could probably fill your magazine in an afternoon.

If you use Submishmash for submission organizing, they send out calls for submissions on their Twitter and stuff.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 11:10 AM on September 28, 2011

Frankly, it seems insulting to me to ask writers to donate their work to you so you can make $8 on their work.

Dude, you'd be surprised how many long-standing literary magazines do this exact thing, and have done so for years. Sometimes the only "pay" they offer for a submission is "we'll send you a few copies of the issue." Other markets only pay three cents per word.

Being paid for short fiction is an exception rather than a rule.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:15 AM on September 28, 2011

The problem isn't that people aren't writing for free anymore -- it's that there are so many unpaid or poorly-paid venues for writers that just offering a chance to be published is no longer an incentive in itself. Craigslist is full of such "offers." I think you're going to have to come up with a better incentive than a free magazine, or some way to distinguish your publication. Meanwhile, perhaps you could post it on Jobs.
posted by Wordwoman at 11:29 AM on September 28, 2011

Best answer: Duotrope would likely yield Craigslist-in-2005 results, assuming the listing is written well. The guidelines for a Duotrope listing are here.

The Poets and Writers Speakeasy has a Call for Submissions forum.

NewPages.com has a call for submissions section. Info is here (scroll down).
posted by gnomeloaf at 12:54 PM on September 28, 2011

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