Today I had a phone conversation with Casey Hill, who runs NewPages.com, 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: www.upstreet-mag.org 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.