from the editor
Why we are free.
Recently on Twitter we engaged in a brief discussion on how to get SUCKER more widely distributed, which also included getting it “live” in bookstores. In some private emails, the staff has offered some suggestions about how to make this happen. All of the suggestions required funds. Yep, go ahead and try to think of a way to get us more widely distributed and I guarantee that when you get to the end of the thought, money will be involved.
I am not new to the world of self and indie publishing. I knew exactly what I was getting into with SUCKER, which is why I kept every single part of this FREE and grassroots. Publishing, no matter what the gimmicky self-pubbing websites tell you, is never ever a monetarily free enterprise. This is why I also wrote off the idea of having the magazine ever leave the virtual world….unless we found a way to create revenue that we could then turn back into the magazine. But this seemed like a lofty idea. To do that, I would need time and some start-up funds (to obtain said funds would require time), and I have very little of that as it is. Plus, quite honestly, I wanted to see if SUCKER, as a concept, would connect with readers and writers first, before I thought about the big picture.
But the real reason is…
SUCKER grew out of a personal need. A need that was pretty pure and maybe even naive. The need to create a community for writers just like me: Emerging (on the journey to publication) writers of edgy YA fiction. I didn’t have any dreams or desires to take SUCKER to Hollywood, so-to-speak, because my original writing dreams were all about that and those dreams kind of kicked me in my ass. Don’t get it twisted though, if Hollywood calls, all of us at SUCKER, not just me, will be running to the phone. But I don’t want that to be the focus of the work in SUCKER. Cherry on top. Not the cake. Without the cake, the cherry is irrelevant.
A funny thing happened on the way to Purity
At the time I created SUCKER, I was agentless and facing an inbox FULL of rejections plus YEARS of almost “making it” but not. I actually wrote off the possibility of “making it” in the industry. I finally let go, completely, of any kind of ego attachment to my so-called failures. I decided that I was going to go purely into my work as an artist. This kind of felt like I was joining a monastery…or I was becoming a vegan. Or a born-again virgin.
Then the FUNNIEST thing happened on the way to purity….Publisher’s Weekly interviewed me…my now agent FOUND me…all while I was trying to go clean on the whole thing.
But I took it all in stride, and I decided that SUCKER would always be a pure enterprise. I would wear the artist’s hat only while working on SUCKER (mixed a bit with my teacher and mother hats). That way if the other stuff didn’t work out, I would still have this new home for me as a writer.
Why Not Put Your Money Where Your Mouth IS?
Because while I am a risk taker, I am a calculated one. I need to see this SUCKER thing through, without the pressure of money (getting it, giving it out, expectations attached to it).
Now one Twitter buddy said that research suggests people attach more value to something that has a fee or price or cost. Hmmmmmmm……maybe. Probably. But what about the music industry? Most music is (sadly for the artist) quite free. Concerts, no. But songs, yes! Isn’t SUCKER but a song in a concert of literary magazines? Okay, that really makes no sense. But do you get what I mean?
SUCKER offers mentorship to its submitters if the editor (me) sees potential. If I start charging a fee, I feel there will be a conflict of interest in the mentorship.
SUCKER is created by two mothers with full-time jobs. If we start charging for the magazine subscriptions and the like, then there’s the expectation of a certain number of issues per year. We can’t promise that we can live up to that expectation.
The other issue is: I’m still creating this thing. If I put on my business hat for a moment, I know that this product of mine is not yet in the place where I want it to be if I were to sell it, if I were to attach consumer expectation to it; it’s still in the test pilot phase. We have a lot of kinks to work out and things to figure out. Will it be POD? Do we need a real website? Do we want to accept donations, and what will we do with those monies? How many issues a year do we want? Can I even continue to do this in a regular basis? Do I want to? On and on…
Not only that, but here’s the DEEPLY PERSONAL part of it:
I want to pay it forward so badly that it hurts. There’s no cost in paying it forward, for me or for the writers out there who need this opportunity to place their work.
Money is a Good Thing.
Many successful literary magazines charge a reading fee or a cover price. Those that don’t are usually a non-profit receiving funds from donors, or they rely on advertisements, etc. The point is that literary magazines are difficult to maintain long-term without some kind of funds. The funds are used for important marketing and PR items like professional websites and submission trackers. Print and virtual advertisements. T-shirts and mugs. Conferences or events. Also, with funds, the magazines can have a pretty wide distribution both on-line and/or in print.
With money, possibilities for spreading the word about a publication are really limitless. This is a very good thing…a thing that could be in our future.