Image by Wendi Dunlap

As part of my MA in Writing, Nature and Place, I had to do a publishing module. My fellow course mates and I edited, designed, typeset and distributed a literary magazine called Peninsula (you can read the magazine online). I absolutely loved the experience – contacting possible contributors, editing the submissions, the frenzied editorial meetings, and holding the final product in my hands.

Ever since then, I’ve wanted to start my own literary magazine. Mostly I’ve been too busy or focusing my energy on other projects. But now that I have a bit of time on my hands, I’ve started seriously thinking about it again.

The idea is still in the very early stages, but at the moment I’m fairly certain that I want my magazine to be about urban nature. I’m debating including poetry and fiction, but as a reader I’m mostly interested in non-fiction and I feel better qualified to judge it as an editor. What’s more, there seem to be plenty of fiction and poetry journals out there already, so I’d like to give non-fiction writers a chance too. I’m hoping this focus will fill a niche – whether anyone is interested in that nicheĀ remains to be seen!

There’s still a long way to go. Obviously a big first step is coming up with a name, which is not my forteĀ (my boyfriend came up with the name for this blog). I want a name that speaks to both the nature and the urban element. Ideas I’ve come up with so far include: Red Robin, Hedgerow, Writing the City, and Dandelion – none of which I like. I also need to find some lovely, urban nature obsessed types to get on board because I’m fairly certain I can’t do it all on my own.

There are a lot of details to figure out too. I don’t believe in not paying contributors, but that means figuring out a source of money. Do I charge people to submit? Do I charge for the magazine? How often will it be published? Should it be online, in print, both or a downloadable pdf? Will anyone even read it!?

I also have a very limited idea of how to make a website or how to typeset, so there’s definitely a lot to learn!

I’ll be blogging about the process as I go along. I hope making it public will help to motivate me and of course any thoughts, tips, contributions, or discouragement from this blog’s readers are most welcome.

12 thoughts on “On starting a new literary magazine

  1. Hey Naomi, Good Luck, Have you looked into crowdfunding/kickstarter etc… as a possibly way of raising some moneys to get things going.
    Take Care.
    Anya. x=

      1. True. But it can be a quite effective way of raising some funds and getting a bit of publicity at the same time. Other than that perhaps you can look at the this organisation that funds literary projects http://www.old-possums-practical-trust.org.uk/page.cfm?pageid=300 maybe you can make an application to them? I’m currently working as a freelance funding bid writer for a forest school organisation (getting paid to write stuff wooop wooop) so if I come across anything else that could seem relevant I’ll swing it your way. x

  2. Naomi,
    Would definitely be interested in being one of those ‘urban nature obsessed types’ you might need to be involved. I was thinking of doing something similar myself!

    I’ll DM you on Twitter with some contact details.


  3. A ‘Stonecrop’ is a type of flowering plant (also called sedum) which grows on, well, rocks obviously, but roofs, walls, cracks in the concrete, pavements.

    Not sure I like it as a title but I was thinking urban plants and sort of along the lines of urban nature writing being a kind of creative ‘stone crop’?

  4. Wow. The uni one is really good, I’d pay for a subscription to something similar – there’s not enough of this sort of thing around. Maybe quarterly would be the easiest to begin with, gives you plenty of time to sort editorial and production. It’s easier to have an online mag, but personally I think it’s nice to have real pages to flick through.

    Names are so hard to come up with. I started a regular London urban nature feature and it took me forever to come up with the name (Mind the Sap) and I still wasn’t really happy. Maybe walking through the city might help, noting down the things you see.

    1. Thanks – I would love to be able to produce something like that, but I’m not sure how/where I’d find the resources to do it! I agree though, I much prefer the experience of reading a physical magazine. It is nice to be able to have some time AWAY from my laptop screen. As a compromise, I was thinking of doing a downloadable PDF, which people can print off if they want/can. The Letters Page and Five Dials have taken that route.

      I like that name! Is it possible to read Mind The Sap anywhere?

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