Thursday, January 19, 2012

Someday my print will come

Everyone in Manchester has started a literary magazine. You have too, haven't you? I thought so. This is good if you're a reader or a writer. This is not good if you hate literary magazines. If you hate literary magazines, run along now, this post will bore you.

I put this literary publishing frenzy down to the fact that it is so darn easy to publish an online magazine right now that a drunk kitten could probably manage it. Some of them are, essentially, group-written blogs, published on blogging platforms with a pared-down aesthetic. Others look just like proper print magazines, with design and illustration of a professional standard and are delivered via apps like issu, which aims to create a magazine-reading experience on your computer; turning pages instead of scrolling, for example. (It must be pointed out that some of these people are actually producing old-fashioned, hold-it-in-your-hands print mags and for this I salute them.)

Are they good? Some are fantastic, some aren't. But I like the fact that these writers are getting out there, messing about with words, and giving other writers a way to bring their work to a bigger audience. With some of these online projects the product isn't as important as the concept and the process. And it's interesting to think about how the publishing process itself is changing. When we can set up an online lit mag in an afternoon, and publish at the touch of a button are we losing time that in the days of print would be spent polishing, editing, perfecting? Is the fact that the finished product often isn't actually a product, in any but the most virtual sense, making us bolder (or less painstaking) editors? You can always go back and edit your post, right?

Anyway, enough of this. If you're a writer, you can send your stuff to:
Cutaway Magazine
Shoestring Magazine
Black & BLUE
There was nowhere to go but everywhere
Top Ten

By the way, if you're interested in places to read your work or hear people reading theirs, check out this list of live literature hotspots in Manchester I did for Creative Tourist earlier this month.

I don't know if you've noticed, but it's 2012 and we still don't have a Manchester listings magazine. Our last one, CityLife, closed in 2005. I was at a Christmas party with a newly arrived BBC staffer who wanted to know where we all found out what was on, and it was interesting to hear five or six Manchester folks who work in the arts share their own cobbled together collection of blogs, newspapers and websites. No easy answer there. Established listings magazine makers continue to snub Manchester, concluding that there is no money to be made from advertising here. And to be fair, they are probably right. But we are getting a new online listings site - Manchester Wire, set up by freelance writer Ruth Allan and my frequent collaborator Chris Horkan, with startup funds from Umbro Industries. I'll link to it here when it goes live.

Image by Leigh Jay Hicks (via Flickr).