Sunday, July 20, 2008

Question of Funding for Lit Mags

Susan of Rock and Sling recently wrote to inform me that they will be suspending publication of the magazine due to funding issues. As an independent non-profit, Rock and Sling is not alone in this struggle.

Susan writes: "Over the last few months we have been trying not to make the hard decision to suspend publication of Rock & Sling — pending procurement of long-term sustainable funding (tell me there is such a thing!). The problem of finances for independent presses runs deep. Without university backing to absorb some of the costs, the independent press must put an inordinate amount of time and energy into finding funding. We have found ourselves without sufficient partners and subscriptions alone haven't proved to be enough. Suspending publication will allow our (all volunteer) staff to spend their time in the donations, grants, and endowments world more effectively.

"It seems a shame to have gotten this far and feel like we have established a niche for ourselves, only to have to stop production and turn all attention to finding support. I suppose any business major would have seen it coming from the get-go. Perhaps on your blog you can throw out the question of how independent presses can maintain financial stability. Where they can find funding—is govt. funding the answer? How does a journal like Rock & Sling (with a Christian bent to its content) get past the hyper vigilance of separation of church and state? Clearly we don’t want to be under any denomination—so church monies are not to be had."

Susan also humorously added that it should be the law that writers who submit to lit mags should have to subscribe to at least one (another ongoing issue...). But, are subscriptions even enough in this day of increased postal rates and overall higher costs?

Any comments/advice? I'm sure this is an issue of concern for many. And, I already know what some will say - that even publications with university affiliation are not guarnteed funding. So, where does the money come from?


Anonymous said...

I believe the money comes from warm hearts and those with a passion for the written word, enough so to throw in their own long-term blood and savings. I don’t think subscriptions, advertising, and fund-raisers will result in enough revenue to sustain a typical non-college-affiliated lit mag these days, although there are a few success stories. I think if you are looking to break even, you are probably fooling yourself. I think that some lit mags are started by people with a lot of money who just woke up one day and said, “Gee, I’d like to start a lit mag and be an editor.” Not good. They will probably publish many friends (regardless of writing quality) and, after figuring out revenue is very slim, they’ll move on to something else. I think the most honorable and “successful” non-college lit mags are run by those where art means everything and what little money they have can be used to turn out a beautiful product.

Anonymous said...

"Clearly we don’t want to be under any denomination—so church monies are not to be had."

What about non-denominational sources? Corporate foundations with a Christian bent (Walden Media comes to mind; I assume there are others)?

Susan said...

To the first anon. comment--would love to talk to you about how any journal (independant or not)maintains intrgrity (with regard to who and what is published). Journals who show no integrity rarely last more than a year, at most two. See our website for an email address

To the second anon. comment--THANK YOU!

S. Cowger Editor R&S