Thursday, April 19, 2007

Welcome to the upstreet fan club

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.

1 comment:

Rosalind said...

Here in the south of Spain, with a blue moon rising over the sierra, pine trees climbing like a camel caravan on the ridge against an indigo sky with the Mediterranean Sea deeper and darker below, I confess I have never used a blog.

I am not a writer, much less a critic. But I do read, and I have been grateful to receive in the mail, first in Washington, D.C. and now in the local Post Office of our town of Frigiliana in Andalucia, my copies of upstreet.

As I read Vivian's series of comments and then also the review of the last upstreet, some things ring true. I find upstreet to be absolutely first class. My husband and I moved to Spain from Washington almost exactly a year ago and we brought with us very few "things", even fewer books. upstreet i came with us. And here we received upstreet ii.

At the same time, as I read upstreet ii, there struck a monotonous chord. It is difficult for me to put this into words, but I was missing a passionate passion, a truly quirky twist that made a piece so unique I wanted to read it again.

The only thing I can compare this to, being a visual artist, is my experience at the Washington Studio School (of visual art). There, as with this last upstreet collection, I found myself experiencing a "school", a mode of expression, in which individual pieces are entwined and lost in the underlying premises and, inevitably, the censorship that bind them. WSS was a scion of American University, as its instructors shared a view of what art (or should I properly say, "painting") should be> what it should be about, and how it should be given visual form.

I studied and later taught there, and, being rebellious by nature, sought a different approach--open ended and perilous. Not to be original (what on earth is that?), but at least to be true to my own instincts, vision, insights. Whether or not I succeeded, I learned a lot.

Living here in Spain, not far from Picasso's birthplace in the city of Malaga, and having made friends with a few local novelists and poets, I experience a tingling sensation of something exciting going on. I helped an American friend of mine translate some poems written by a Spanish friend, Juvenal Soto, and I read the short stories and novels of yet another Spanish friend, Antonio Soler. They are quite bizarre, poems and novels alike. Disquieting, thoroughly human, compelling.

I guess I wish something like this happens in upstreet. Cultures will be different, human nature astoundingly universal. Real voices should be heard. With the pitch, range and timbre that makes them unequivocally particular but also with the depth that resonates with alall of us.

OK, enough bloggin' (or whatever) for now. What truly matters is that people write, people read, people create, because it is in our nature. Olé!