Last time on Real World: Editors, Split Lip editors answered questions about the submission process for their particular genres. This week, editors from a few other journals weigh in on the following question:
Episode 2: Paying In Exposure
Do you feel like our magazine pays in exposure/publicity? How do you keep up with former
contributors? How do you promote current contributors? Are there downsides to promo/publicity (or things that people might not think about)?
This is something that, at first, I did not realize was vitally important. Again, editors and staff need to make this a priority. Some journals do it really well (Split Lip, Midwestern Gothic, Little Fiction, WhiskeyPaper, Smokelong). However, it takes a lot of energy, and as an editor at Fear No Lit, I mostly just find myself retweeting contributor's accomplishments. It's not great, but it's something. Honestly, I wish I was better at it, because for writers it feels really good to have that support system.
Since we can’t pay contributors in money, we try our best to do so in exposure, appreciation, and social media love! Obviously your CHEAP POP piece will be proudly promoted all over our social media, but we’ll also always do our best to keep an eye out for new stories/collections/other publications to post about.
If we miss something, don’t hesitate to email us. CHEAP POP is a family. We want to celebrate you and your accomplishments.
One of the facets that I'm very interested in as rising Editor-in-Chief is social media. I especially love Twitter, and I love keeping up with our former contributors. Every few weeks, we're sure to remind our contributors (over Twitter) that if they have any news such as publications, chapbooks, and books, etc., to please DM or email us. We want to be able to share the good news with our following. I also make sure to scroll through all my social media feeds to see what contributors are up to. Besides social media, I'm also working on online content and adding more interviews to our newly designed website (many many thanks to brilliant Online Editor, Zach Linge who has helped us innovate so many features of SER). Recently, I interviewed Issue 36.1 contributor and author of Bridled (Pleiades Press), Amy Meng, and forthcoming Issue 37.1 contributor and author of Reservoir (Yemasse), Taneum Bambrick.
I think the only downside to promo/publicity is missing a contributor's achievement, which is why I think it's so important to be active on social media. And again, I think it's important to remind contributors that we're here for them and we want to share their good news.
We really try to do all we can when it comes to exposure—we tag contributors on Twitter, we give the option for all contributors to be a part of our Contributor Spotlight posts, we help share good news (other publications, events, awards, etc.) and we try to set up readings whenever we can. I don’t see any downside to promo/publicity broadly—sincerely, we exist because of contributors, because writers allow us to publish their beautiful words. It’s one of the reasons we love going to AWP, to conferences in general, to talk to contributors and readers, to connect face-to-face, to finds ways promote the heck out of them and their work. I always want to do more, and we’re constantly trying to find ways to do this. (An aside: being independent—i.e. not funded by a university—makes it more challenging, financially, but we are always trying to find ways to lift contributors up.)
L: When we have our contributors sign contracts for publication, we always ask for their Instagram and Twitter handles so that we can keep up with them even after their issue comes out and continue to follow their writing.
M: Lynsey and I both man the Twitter account for Hypertrophic, and we try to retweet and hype our former and current contributors publications elsewhere.
L: I think it's super important for small presses to promote their past contributors on social media, Twitter in particular. Because we're such a small publication, we're very limited in ways that we can give back to contributors monetarily, so showing them some love and supporting their work and hopefully showing it to new eyes and maybe even new lit mag editors is one way that we can try to help. We also give free full-page ads in Hypertrophic to all past contributors so that our readers can keep up with them and have the opportunity to get their hands on new projects from writers they've enjoyed before. I think this also goes a long way in showing our contributors that we appreciate them and aren't just trying to fill a magazine.
We mainly keep up with contributors on Twitter, but of course, not all of our contributors are on Twitter. We try to encourage contributors to tell us when they have news in whatever way they can, and we do have a newsletter where we try to promote contributors' new work, but there's always more we can do.
Instagram is easier to promote our artists' work – it's where most of our artist contributors are, and it only takes one click to repost a new illustration or similar, and can often go further than a single tweet, which can get lost on a timeline.
In terms of exposure, we’ve tried to fine-tune this over the years. We now publish our online issues across one month instead of all at once, with new pieces going up every other day. We found that gives each writer or artist their own spotlight and a good bit of exposure.
We used to pay contributors a small amount up until this year (out of our own pockets), and then realised it was not the way to go. It's an important conversation – where do/can funds come from in the literary world – and it's one we want to encourage: to find a way to pay contributors for their work, to pay staff for their time and effort, and to balance the costs of running a literary magazine. It is not cheap – not if we do it the way we want to do it, with a good website, good design, good editors. But that's a separate conversation!
Next time on Real World: Editors, we talk about submission pet peeves and some guidelines for what not to do.