Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Holidays, upstreet fans!

On October 2, I said "Nothing would please me more than to receive so many orders that I'll have to go back on the press." Well, that's exactly what happened--an order of 4,320 copies, mostly from Barnes & Noble (which includes B&N College Stores) and Borders (which includes Waldenbooks). Some will also go to Hastings Booksellers, and some to Disticor, which will put upstreet 3 into the Canadian chain, Chapters/Indigo.

The order has now been printed and shipped to four Source Interlink Distribution Centers--in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Texas, and Hawaii--and soon upstreet 3 will be in bookstores across the U.S. and Canada.

The best present I could have asked for.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

We are very, very proud…

...of upstreet’s Fiction Editor, Robin Oliveira, who has just won the 15th annual James Jones First Novel Fellowship. This $10,000 Fellowship, awarded to an American author of a first novel-in-progress by the James Jones Literary Society and Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, PA, is intended to honor the spirit of unblinking honesty, determination, and insight into modern culture exemplified by the late James Jones, author of From Here to Eternity, Some Came Running, and other prose narratives.

Robin Oliveira was born in Albany, NY, in 1954. She earned a BA in Russian from the University of Montana and continued to study at the Pushkin Language Institute in Moscow, USSR. She became a Registered Nurse, and then worked as a bone marrow transplant and cardiac care nurse in Seattle before earning an MFA in writing from Vermont College in 2006. Besides being Fiction Editor for upstreet, she is an assistant editor at Narrative Magazine. She lives in Seattle with her husband, Andrew Oliveira, their daughter, Noelle, and their son, Miles.

Robin’s novel-in-progress, The Last Beautiful Day, follows the story of Mary Sutter, a midwife at the time of the Civil War, whose desire to become a physician is hindered by tradition, the war, and family entanglements.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Getting it on more shelves--finally

On September 17 I signed a distribution agreement with Source Interlink Companies, which will expand upstreet's exposure beyond the independent bookstores, to the chains. Up to this point upstreet 3 has been marketed by two small distributors, Ubiquity (a national distributor located in Brooklyn) and Armadillo (which services California bookstores, primarily in the L.A. area), and has also been available online at and through the upstreet website. Additional marketing efforts have consisted of my contacting retail outlets directly, either by driving around Western Massachusetts and hand-delivering books, or by making phone calls to bookstores whose names were given to me by upstreet 3 authors. A labor-intensive operation, for sure.

I have been assigned a Circulation Manager, who will oversee the formal solicitation of the upstreet title to Borders/Waldenbooks, Barnes & Noble, B&N College Stores, Hastings, and Disticor (a Canadian distributor which services Chapters/Indigo, the largest Canadian chain, along with literary bookstores throughout Canada). That means that Source has sent a sample copy, along with relevant marketing information, to the people in charge of ordering for each of those corporations. My role at this point is to sit here in Richmond, MA, and wait to hear how many copies of upstreet 3 have been ordered. I should have this number by around November 1.

Nothing would please me more than to receive so many orders that I'll have to go back on the press. upstreet Fan Club members are encouraged to make burnt offerings to the deity of their choice.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The short story: an endangered species

Once upon a time, there were many popular, commercial magazines that published short fiction. You could buy them in bookstores, newsstands, drugstores, supermarkets, and variety stores. Today, there are very few of those periodicals, so publication of the short story has largely been left to literary journals. This has caused the literary journal One Story to begin a campaign, Save the Short Story, which was inaugurated at the Brooklyn Book Fair last week. upstreet supports this campaign, the details of which you can find on the Save the Short Story website. We especially like their Annotated History of the short story, and the section on How You Can Help. Here's my own How You Can Help list:

Read more short stories. I do. All the time. I even publish some of them. :)

Buy short story collections. I just bought several, including No One Belongs Here More Than You, by Miranda July; I Like It Better Now, by James B. Hall; and The Long and Short of It, by Pamela Painter.

Recommend short stories to others. I'll recommend two old favorites right now, by Frank O'Connor, who was my favorite short story writer until I discovered Alice Munro: "My Oedipus Complex," and "Guests of the Nation" (just to show that I still hold a very warm place in my heart for Frank).

Support literary journals that publish short fiction. If you're a member of The upstreet Fan Club, you probably already do this. Encourage your friends to do the same. upstreet thanks you.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Eyes on the prizes, part two

The Pushcart Prize is one of the most sought-after honors in the literary magazine world. Each publication may submit up to six entries from its pages in a given year, in "any combination of poetry, short fiction, essays or literary whatnot." The winners, chosen by the Pushcart Press editors, are published in the annual anthology that represents "the best of the small presses." upstreet has made six nominations from its third issue, and they are being sent in today. Here they are--

Fiction (chosen by Robin Oliveira, Fiction Editor):
Nannette Crane, "Sunday Best" (p. 25)
Joyce A. Griffin, "Michael Ryan" (p. 199)

Creative Nonfiction (chosen by Harrison Candelaria Fletcher, Creative Nonfiction Editor):
Kelly Ruth Anderson, "This Good Year" (p. 187)
Frank Tempone, "Born Again" (p. 11)

Poetry (chosen by Jessica Greenbaum, Poetry Editor):
Stephen Ackerman, "Magic Lantern" (p. 214)
Aaron M. Beatty, "The Flood" (p. 197)

We congratulate our nominees, and wish them the very best of luck in the competition.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Eyes on the prizes, part one

One of the more pleasant duties of a literary magazine editor is choosing which of the works in a given issue to nominate for the many prize anthologies that are published each year. upstreet submits to several of these anthologies. Some of the better known ones--Best American Short Stories, Best American Essays, Best American Poetry, O. Henry Prize Stories--don't take nominations of individual pieces, but invite literary magazines to send in the entire issue, and choose that way. The same is true of Best American Nonrequired Reading, which is edited by Dave Eggers, who asks the kids at 826 Valencia, his San Francisco writing center, to help him make the selections each year.

One anthology, Best New Poets, allows eligible literary magazines to nominate two emerging poets (poets who have not published a book-length collection) each year. We submitted two nominations from upstreet number two (Stephen Ackerman and Judy Katz) for the 2007 book, but they didn't make the list, which was announced two weeks ago. Nominations for the 2008 anthology can be submitted between January 15 and April 15 of next year.

Two prize anthologies ask literary magazines to send in nominations for individual pieces that have appeared in their pages. The journal Creative Nonfiction is currently taking submissions for the second volume of its anthology, The Best Creative Nonfiction, and upstreet number three is eligible to submit. CNF Editor Harrison Candelaria Fletcher and I have chosen two personal narratives: "Born Again," by Frank Tempone, and "This Good Year," by Kelly Ruth Anderson, which were mailed in today.

The other upstreet number three editors and I are currently working on our selections for The Pushcart Prize XXXII: Best of the Small Presses 2008. We're going to nominate two poems, two creative nonfiction pieces, and two short stories. Come here at the end of next week to find out which ones.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

We are not your writing teachers

At upstreet, we get many different kinds of letters from writers. Some of them want us to double as their writing instructor. Here’s an exchange that followed a letter we wrote telling an author we wouldn’t be using her short story. Sally is not her real name.

Dear Vivian and/or editors,
Would you be so kind as to tell me how come. It would be very important for me to know what you didn't like about my short story. Please get back to me asap. In great appreciation of your trouble and time. Kind regards, Sally

Dear Sally,
It really isn’t possible for us to give a critique of every piece that is submitted to upstreet. We receive a great many submissions, and inclusion in the journal becomes more competitive each year. The Fiction Editor has read 97 short stories thus far, and turned down 92 of them. Five have been shortlisted, but it may be that none of them will ultimately make it into upstreet number four, since we will probably receive more than two hundred more stories to consider.
Best of luck with your writing,

Dear Vivian,
Thank you so much for getting back to me. But you don't give any personal critique whatsoever? After all you invest all the time into reading it? But maybe that is too much trouble. Kind regards, Sally

I don’t know of any literary journal that gives personal critiques, Sally. This is the sort of thing that writers pay an editor or ms consultant to do, or that one gets from a professional workshop at a writers’ conference, for example. At upstreet, we have a Fiction Editor, and she has no assistant or additional readers (and she reads for another literary journal as well). Reading to decide whether or not we’ll take a submission is a very different kind of reading from the kind that would be done by someone doing a critical evaluation. The stories that end up on the shortlist will be read two or three times before a final decision is made.
Best wishes,

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

R.I.P.: Bernhard DeBoer, Inc.

Every year, the distributor Bernhard DeBoer, Inc., sends out a notice to its clients, telling them which dates in August they will be closed for vacation. Yesterday, they sent out the following announcement:

August 20, 2007

Dear Gentlepeople:

With deep regrets, I am sorry to inform you that the changing economic climate in our industry has forced us to close our doors after 60 years. We appreciate your support and loyalty over the years and wish you luck in your future endeavors.

Faye Kosmidis
Owner, Bernhard DeBoer, Inc

upstreet was not one of the publications that received this notice, since our relationship with DeBoer had been terminated more than two months before. In her last e-mail to me (June 28), Faye said: “Just read your blogspot on Deboer. I guess we really did overstay.” About a week later, she sent me a check for what she owed me for distributing upstreet number one. I will obviously never get paid for number two. She had requested 150 copies of number three, and I'm very glad I didn't accept her offer to distribute that issue.

For its first thirty years of operation, the company was run by its founder, Bernhard DeBoer, and I have heard many good things about him. Based on what I know, the company's problems began more recently. I don't know who will become the premier distributor of literary journals to independent booksellers, but I'm hoping that Ubiquity will make an offer to purchase DeBoer's bookstore list.

If Faye had dealt with me honestly, I'd feel sorry for her; but she didn't, and I don't.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Number three is off and running

upstreet number three arrived on Friday, June 29, and is now available at several bookstores in the Berkshires--Barnes & Noble, Stockbridge Booksellers, The Book Store (Lenox), Water Street Books (Williamstown), Papyri Books (North Adams)--and will soon arrive at The Bookloft (Great Barrington), Wild Oats (Williamstown), Broadside Bookshop (Northampton), and Amherst Books. While I was in Montpelier, VT, last week, I delivered some to The Book Garden, which has since phoned in a larger order. There are also some at the UConn Co-op in Storrs, CT, and at The Lavender Inkwell in Syracuse, NY.

Ubiquity of Brooklyn is working on getting the issue distributed more widely, and tomorrow I'll be shipping an order to Armadillo Distributors, in the L.A. area. I'm still talking with Source Interlink and Disticor. But the real kick is being able to go to, type "upstreet" into the Book Search, and admire the pretty pictures that come up. Try it and see.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Getting it on the shelves, part three

As I said, I've been talking with other litmag editors who have experience with DeBoer, either currently or in the past. The first thing I learned was that everyone seems to know about Faye's unusual business practices. I wish someone had told me before I signed the contract with her. My colleagues' attitudes ranged from extreme chagrin at Faye's dishonesty, to a resigned willingness to put up with the way she operates. A lot of them feel sorry for her. (I don't.) Some have refused to put up with it, and stopped using DeBoer. I also found out that she pays some publishers, sometimes. It wasn't clear what the secret is, but her favorite journal is McSweeney's. She says she can't get enough of it, so I would guess that they get paid (but I don't know for sure). A couple of editors said she sent them checks after they had badgered her--one by barraging her with phone calls, and another by showing up at her warehouse in Jersey.

The one theme that ran through all of these conversations, though, was that, while Ingram can put literary magazines into the big chains, only DeBoer can get them on the shelves of the independent bookstores. I find that hard to believe. Over and over again I heard them say that they liked to walk into a bookstore someplace and see their journal on the shelf. Well, I like that, too, and I think there must be some other way to accomplish it besides dealing with DeBoer. I agree with the editor who said, "I guess it's an issue of integrity, and Faye doesn't really have any." I may be crazy, but I don't think she should be rewarded for her behavior, and I'm not going to do it any more.

One of my colleagues suggested that I talk with three distributors: Ubiquity (Brooklyn), Small Changes (Seattle), and Armadillo (CA). I had talked with Joe Massey at Ubiquity before, but his terms looked a lot better to me after my experience with DeBoer. I called him again, and now have a contract with Ubiquity to distribute 95 copies of upstreet 3. Joe told me up front that he would only carry upstreet if he was free to give the magazine away to the booksellers. The first term on the Ubiquity contract is: “(1) Ubiquity Distributors will not be charged for copies of upstreet journal supplied to it by the publisher.” The contract goes on to say that if upstreet sells 50 copies or more of each issue regularly, the journal will go on a pay-for-copy basis, and I’ll receive 45% of the cover price for the copies that sell. I am quitting DeBoer and going with Ubiquity because Joe’s contract reflects the situation honestly, and Faye’s doesn’t. She pretends she’s going to do one thing, and then does something else. I've sent sample copies to Small Changes and Armadillo, and will be following up with them soon. I've also sent a sample to Disticor, a Canadian distributor recommended by Joe Massey.

This morning I got an email from a Business Manager at Source Interlink, asking for two sample copies of upstreet. She said it could take 30 days before I know whether they're going to take the journal, because they have to go through a review process and then negotiate a distribution agreement if it's approved. After that, she said, they would solicit orders from the chains. Chains? Quickly, I went to their website. Source Interlink distributes to Waldenbooks, Follett's, B. Dalton, Borders, and Barnes & Noble. This is a very, very long shot, but I never expected them to even consider upstreet. Ingram won't.

Source Interlink will receive its two copies tomorrow, by Express Mail. Keep your fingers crossed, upstreet fans.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Getting it on the shelves, part two

Sorry I've been away so long. No excuses.

When I went to the upstreet 2 reading in NYC on May 21, I talked about distribution with one of the featured poets, who used to run an independent press and publish a literary journal. One thing he said reverberated in my head for days afterward: "DeBoer has a rep for not paying its publishers."

After sending DeBoer one last email--consisting only of the subject line, "Are you still in business?"--and receiving no answer, I left a voicemail message, saying that the new issue of upstreet would be coming out soon. To my surprise, Faye called me back, opening the conversation with, "Yes, I'm still in business." I told her I didn't understand her affidavit, and couldn't figure out how many copies of upstreet 1 had been sold. She started spouting numbers of covers returned, and finally said, "Oh, I can't do this on the phone." Then, after a long litany of complaints about what a difficult business she's in and how she doesn't make any money on litmags, she gave me the bottom line: she can't pay me.

upstreet 1 was not a loser (some magazines are). It sold. DeBoer owes me money, but they're not going to pay me. I told her that upstreet 3 was going to come out at the beginning of July, and she said she'd do a recall on upstreet 2 to find out how many sold, but that she couldn't pay me for them. (That was just the whipped cream; the cherry on top was when she told me I could send her 150 copies of upstreet 3 to distribute, but she wouldn't pay me for those, either.) In the middle of her whining harangue, I asked her if she still distributed Fiction; she said they had sent her their last issue. I asked about Ploughshares; she said they had not sent her the last issue. So they've dumped her. I especially liked her remark about Poetry magazine: "I told them--You have millions of dollars. I don't see why I should have to pay you." I think I'll try that approach with the electric company or the phone company the next time they send me a bill. Before I hung up, she had agreed to send me the 25 undistributed copies of upstreet 2, and a statement of how much she owes me for upstreet 1. I got the books back, but not the accounting. (If I had to make a guess, I'd say DeBoer owes me between $700 and $800.)

I told all this to someone at an independent publishers' organization I belong to, and he said that Faye hardly ever pays, and that the editors who continue to use DeBoer consider it a "marketing tool" to get their journals into the indie bookstores, and just kiss those few hundred copies goodbye, expecting nothing in return but some visibility and readership. In other words, I give DeBoer 250 copies of upstreet (which I paid to have printed and shipped) and they send them out to the bookstores; then, when they do their recall and get paid for however many copies were sold, they just keep all of it.

This organization suggested how I could get some information and advice on distribution from others in the litmag business, and I've been talking with a number of them over the past couple of weeks. What I learned from them, and what I'm planning to do next, will be the subject of my next post.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Getting it on the shelves, part one

I'm about to fire my distributor. This is a long story, but it may be of interest to litmag editors and publishers, or those who would like to become litmag editors or publishers, so bear with me. The first and second issues of upstreet were distributed by Bernhard DeBoer (owner: Faye Kosmidis), whose clients included Ploughshares, Fiction, Poetry, Jubilat, and McSweeney's. Seems like that must be a reputable outfit, right? And they were willing to take on an unknown literary journal that only comes out once a year. (Most are quarterly, and are replaced in the bookstores every three months.) All this cost me up front was a $100 contract fee and 200 flyers for DeBoer to mail to bookstores. In December 2005, I had the printer ship 250 copies of upstreet 1 to DeBoer, and it was distributed to their list of bookstores across the country. When it's time for the next issue to come out, the distributor does a recall. The bookstores pay for the sold copies, tear off the front covers of the unsold copies, and return them to the distributor, who sends an affidavit to the publisher stating the number of covers received. What the distributor owes the publisher is the contract price for the number of copies sold, minus whatever it cost to mail the books to the bookstores. All well and good.

In November 2006, at Faye's request, I sent her 225 copies of upstreet 2. I still didn't know how many copies of upstreet 1 had been sold, since the recall wasn't complete. The second year was much the same as the first, except that I didn't have to pay the contract fee or provide any flyers. All I was out was the actual copies of the book I had shipped to DeBoer. It became increasingly difficult to communicate with Faye; e-mail and voicemail messages had a way of disappearing into a black hole, unless she wanted something--for example, to talk about distributing the next issue. Besides this, it is impossible to find out where the books were distributed to, since DeBoer's list of bookstores is proprietary information--and, according to Faye, her only business asset. So, if someone e-mails me and says, "Where can I buy upstreet in Boston?" my answer is "I don't know," which sounds really stupid. Stay tuned for part two of this continuing saga.

Monday, June 4, 2007

On the Road with upstreet 2

On Monday, May 21, upstreet held its final reading for the second issue. This event, the seventh in the upstreet 2 road tour, featured six New York City poets and took place at McNally Robinson Booksellers at 52 Prince Street in SoHo, drawing an audience of 40-45 people--a very good turnout, according to the bookstore's events coordinator. This was the first reading we held outside Western Massachusetts, and it felt like a milestone. We hope to do it again for upstreet 3; there will definitely be enough authors from the NYC area to make this possible. I'd like to thank everyone who attended, and especially those who traveled as much as an hour and a half to reach the bookstore. This kind of support really keeps morale up, and I truly appreciate it. If you'd like details on the rest of the reading tour, go to the upstreet website and click on "Events."

Thursday, April 26, 2007

As long as they spell our names right

One of the things I learned from Casey Hill is that there is now a review of upstreet 2 on The reviews are listed alphabetically; to read it, go here, then scroll down to upstreet:

The conventional wisdom regarding publicity is: "I don't care what they say about me, as long as they spell my name right." That may be true to a certain extent, and I'm glad to have upstreet reviewed in NewPages, but it has to be said that this is kind of a grumpy review. I guess we're too pedestrian for Miles Newbold Clark. As a former mentor told me a few months ago, though, it takes time. We at upstreet are in search of more interesting and varied voices, in all genres, which is why the ads I placed in Poets & Writers and the AWP Writer's Chronicle called for "quality submissions with an edge." (Some of the early submissions made me wonder why I had ever made such a rash request.)

Clark was (sort of) complimentary about upstreet's minimalist aesthetics. I receive many compliments about the look of the journal, usually involving the words "sharp" or "elegant." The minimalist approach reflects my personal taste, and I'm happy about it. Two short stories were singled out, deservedly, for positive comments: "Hidden Camera," by Camp Gordinier, and "Heretics," by Ed Anthony. I hope Fan Club visitors will check out what the reviewer has to say about them, and then go on to read the stories themselves, as well as the rest of the upstreet 2 lineup. The thing that really mystified me about the review was that the poetry was ignored completely. I don't understand this, unless Clark is only interested in prose, or just doesn't feel equipped to evaluate poetry. There are some very good poems by established poets in upstreet 2, including the three we nominated for Pushcart Prizes: "Live at the Village Vanguard," by Bill Zavatsky, "My Erotic Double," by Judy Katz, and "Strange How Trains," by Steve Ackerman.

My thanks to NewPages for reviewing upstreet 2, and we hope they'll take another look when our pages are not so new. We've gotten better, and we'll keep getting better. You'll see.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The numbers game

A lot of people I meet are interested in what it's like to run a literary magazine, and some of the questions I'm asked most often have to do with the submission process--how many we get and how they're handled. This year, upstreet received more submissions than ever before: 295 short stories, 92 creative nonfiction pieces, and 820 poems. This was a lot to read and, no, we didn't do it all at once--at least, we tried not to.

The submissions came to me--either by e-mail or to the upstreet P.O. box--and I gave them an identifying number, logged them into an Excel database, removed the cover letters, and sent the mss to the appropriate editor (fiction, poetry, CNF). Let me use fiction as an example. I sent the very efficient upstreet 3 fiction editor, Robin Oliveira, 14 batches of short stories, the first one on October 21, 2006, and the last on March 6, 2007. These batches ranged from 12 to 25 short stories, depending on how many I received and how quickly she was able to read them. The volume of submissions gets larger as the deadline approaches, and the final batch consisted of 53 stories. What I did with creative nonfiction and poetry was similar, except that there were fewer nonfiction pieces (about half) and many more poems (about 8 times).

Robin had never done this before, so she had to develop a system for what to do with all these stories. Based on what she told me, I know that she read each story once, and made brief notes in a notebook she kept for the purpose. Based on the first reading, she decided if it should be read a second time. After the second reading, she decided whether to put the story on her short list for further consideration, or recycle the manuscript. She reported to me on each batch, giving me the numbers and titles of the stories she was keeping on the short list, and frequently including comments on what she liked or thought needed work. I also read all of the stories myself, and a few times (very few times) added a story to the short list, but in the vast majority of cases I told her to go ahead and dispose of the stories she didn't want to keep. Our level of agreement was very high. I kept a record of all the shortlisted stories on my computer. I knew the names of the stories' authors, but Robin did not. From time to time she thought she recognized the style of a writer whose work she was familiar with, but she wasn't always right about that. (We received a number of submissions from fellow alumni of the Vermont College MFA in Writing Program.)

Robin also was able to place some of the shortlisted stories roughly into categories: cats, death, illness, high school sex, etc., which frequently helped her decide among them (i.e., which of the two cat stories is better?). Once we were finished, she narrowed her short list down to 38 stories, roughly in order of preference, 17 of which she labeled Yes, and 21 Maybe. The top 13 stories (102 pages) made it into the book. I made this decision based on her choices and the choices of creative nonfiction editor Harrison Fletcher, who gave me a similar (although much shorter) list, which ended up with 10 CNF pieces (52 pages) in the book. Because, due to family issues, poetry editor Jess Greenbaum didn't finish reading until much later, I left her 33 pages, which ended up with 22 poems by 16 different poets. My involvement with the creative nonfiction selection process was not as close as it was with fiction, and I read very few of the 820 submitted poems, most of them at the end of the process. The Wally Lamb interview, conducted by me, takes up 17 pages, one of which is a photo page.

I believe this process has resulted in a good balance among the different genres. I purposely increased the proportion of creative nonfiction in this issue, which was made possible by the improved quality of the submissions. upstreet has now reached 224 pages, and I'd like it to stay that size. I'm increasing the price from 10 to 12 dollars to accommodate the larger number of pages, which I didn't do last year. I believe that the more submissions we get, the better the journal will be. This also means, of course, that it will become more competitive, harder to get accepted. I have already begun receiving submissions for upstreet 4, and Robin can't wait to get her hands on them, but we won't begin reading until after the current issue comes out, which will be around June 15.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Decisions, decisions

When I opened this Blogger account, I had to make a bunch of decisions about settings: layout, formatting, etc. Among those decisions were that (1) this blog is not restricted in any way, but open to all readers; and (2) readers are free to make any comments they choose, without being censored or edited. The second decision required some thought. I'm responsible for what's published here, and Blogger could terminate my account if their terms of agreement are violated--either by me or by a commenter. So, if you do comment on one of these posts, please try not to libel anyone, include links to porn sites, use hate speech, or engage in any other illegal or unethical activity. :)

This may seem like a silly request, but I'd rather not be in the position of having to moderate comments. My son works for a company that automatically filters all incoming e-mail, and won't let a message through to an employee if it contains offensive or objectionable language. I've been on the receiving end of this policy, I find it offensive and objectionable, and I don't want to do it to others. I've also had a comment of my own, to a friend's blog, censored--not because I was being a criminal or a pottymouth, but because he disagreed with what I was saying. (As far as I'm concerned, that's even worse than being busted for using an f-bomb in an e-mail to my son at work.) Thanks for understanding.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Welcome to the upstreet fan club

Today I had a phone conversation with Casey Hill, who runs, a very attractive listing service for literary magazines. Since February 20, upstreet has been listed on NewPages. Today I learned that, in the past two months, the upstreet listing has been viewed 750 times, and 450 of those views have gone on to the upstreet website: This probably accounts for part of the increased volume of submissions we've been receiving.

I called Casey to ask for his advice on distribution. The last time I'd spoken with him, he suggested that I look into a distributor named Ubiquity. I'd e-mailed them, and then sent them a copy of upstreet 1, but hadn't received a response. Today I called Ubiquity and found out that they have a new policy regarding journals: because they don't make any money on journal distribution, the only way they'd be able to take on a new journal is if they were permitted to give the journal away to bookstores at no cost. In other words, they really aren't interested. (Neither are most other distributors, from the giant Ingram to the very selective Small Press Distributors.) So, how does a start-up literary magazine become established? The consensus seems to be that, while everyone assumes bookstore sales are important, that isn't the way to go. A bookstore presence may increase a journal's visibility, but most copies are sold by subscription. Every time I hear that, I wonder how you sell a "subscription" to a publication that comes out once a year. A one-year subscription is the same as buying a single copy.

Casey also suggested that one of the best ways to enhance the visibility of upstreet is to start a blog, which explains why I'm here. For now. I'm going to try this and see what happens. If I get over the feeling that this is a totally self-indulgent ego trip--which is the impression I have from amost all the other blogs I've seen--then maybe I'll keep it going. I have to keep reminding myself that this is not about me, it's about upstreet. That gives me an excuse to talk about my favorite subject. I hope it will also give me someone to talk about it to, which is the point. If you're interested in the process of publishing a literary magazine, specifically upstreet, come on back. I welcome your comments.