by Meghan Pipe, Colorado Review Editorial Assistant
I came to the Center for Literary Publishing and Colorado State’s MFA program from the development team at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. At the Loft, I spent a lot of time talking about numbers with my colleagues: operating budgets, fundraising goals, renewal rates. Magical stuff happened at the Loft—creative-writing classes, readings, and community events, to broadly list a few—and it was possible only because we had grant and donor money to fund those initiatives.
Given that experience, it drives me nuts when people joke about how writers are bad at math. I will concede, though, that we bookish people tend to shy away from numbers when it comes to money; it’s perceived as gauche to talk about, and, as everyone who doesn’t write likes to remind us, writing isn’t exactly a money-making vocation. But it’s so important to think about the financial sustainability of the literary entities we love, and to that end, to support them. How else can we expect our favorite literary journals to be around to publish innovative work, pay their contributors, read our submissions, and keep the lights on too?
With that in mind, here are three things you can do to support the literary journals you love:
Subscribe. For all the reasons we know it’s great to support local bookstores, it’s also important to subscribe to the literary journals you love. You’ll encounter writers and poets you otherwise might not have heard of, you’ll support an entity that’s often dedicated to finding and promoting new voices, and you’ll get to hold a bound, printed copy of your own when it arrives in the mail. I took advantage of the Loft’s library of literary journals while I worked there, combing through recent editions to see what resonated, what I wanted to emulate, where I thought my own stories might have a home. After I found my favorites, I let them know how much I loved them by subscribing.
Submit. It’s important to know that you should submit your work to a literary journal after you’ve actually read it. How else will you know if the aesthetic they’re publishing fits your own (and vice versa)? When you do find those literary heart-homes, though, feel good about the $3 submission fee when you send off your stories and poems. At Colorado Review (and many other journals), it goes toward paying writers for their published work.
Share. This one doesn’t cost a thing, but it’s just as important as the first two. Share the stories and poems you love with your friends and fellow writers. Be a vocal advocate for writing that moves you. If more people are reading your favorite journal, it means that more of them might feel compelled to support it through subscribing and submitting. Social media makes sharing easy: on Twitter and Facebook, we can connect directly with journals and writers we’re reading, which means that shout-outs are simple to do. Start conversations about the work in literary journals you’re excited about, and you’ll help gain new readership for those journals.
However you decide to do it, I hope you’ll support literary journals like Colorado Review. Writing would be even more solitary a pursuit without the exposure to new voices and ideas that literary journals offer up to us. By supporting these places, you’re keeping our writing community a vibrant one.
Bookshelf photo by Andrew Mangan