Tuesday 15 May 2018

Literary journals and longevity

With the rising cost of paper and stamps, what's the point of producing a paper journal? It's unsustainable. Why not publish online? If the production quality of HTML isn't sufficient, you can offer PDF, which is what Antiphon does. And the best online magazines are taken just as seriously as paper ones.

Paper magazines are indeed being converted into online publications, but even those are disappearing - some with a bang, some with a whimper. Web sites and submission guidelines are abandoned without as much as a goodbye. The trouble is that the hidden cost of running a literary magazine - the time required dealing with submissions - increases when online submission is offered. Magazines have dealt with the extra load in several ways -

Limiting submissions

  • Retaining a paper submissions process - South for example does this
  • Online submission windows - US magazines often close during summer. An increasing number of UK magazines open for a month per issue.

Increasing person-power

  • Internships - The Forge advertised one that wasn't unpaid.
  • Teams - Realising the fatigue of sole-editorship, recently launched magazines are team efforts. The Forge has a rotating editorship - see their About The Forge page.

Getting money

  • Applying for grants - not easy nowadays unless there are special reasons
  • Having the support of an institution - This is much less common in the UK than in the USA. Magazines like Flash are based in Universities, run by staff. Sometimes a magazine is running by students, associated with a Creative Writing course, providing editing experience
  • Competitions - Reflex runs a quarterly Flash competition, entries doubling as submissions for being printed on their site
  • Submission fees - Magazines like Iota charge for submission via submittable


  • High production values - Strix (paper-based, with care) has recently appeared.
  • International contemporary writing - Wasafiri (paper-based) has lasted a while. Grant-aided.

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